A funny thing happened this pre-season after the trojan brain surgeonss assumed they would power through an unbeaten season, anointed themselves national champions, and awarded the Heisman Trophy to Mr. Unfinished Business: They found out that they actually had to play the games. That has not worked out too well for them.
Meanwhile, the unassuming Bruins, with a new coach who started the year having never been the head guy on a college sideline, with a rookie quarterback, and with apprehensive fans, are now ranked in the top 20.
After the arrogant trojans were totally and deservedly embarrassed by the Stanford Cardinal, Mr. Unfinished now finds himself in an interesting position personally. After three games, a quick look at the national stats show him with virtually the same numbers as UCLA’s freshman stalwart, Brett Hundley, who isn’t even the primary focus of Bruin Heisman hype. And, where they differ, Hundley has the better numbers almost down the line, such as with a 67% completion pct. to Unfinished’s 60.6%, and a QB rating 6 points higher, more yards passing, oh, and a slight advantage when it comes to carrying the ball (which includes sack stats the way the NCAA does things), 119 net yards gained for Hundley to minus 59 yards LOST for Unfinished, an average of minus 7.4 yards every time he keeps the ball himself. Of course, Hundley has the biggest stat advantage of all, a 3-0 record, as compared to Unfinished’s 2-1 mark.
There is a long way to go this season, but the spunky trojans and Unfinished are in a spot they never imagined they would be in. Part of course is their arrogance and over estimation of their talent level. Realistically, though, once you get through the front-line, both on offense and defense, their depth is non-existent. In a long season, that will continue to be a major factor in any success they may actually have, especially if a few injuries start popping up.
On the other hand, the biggest surprises on the Bruins have included the depth of young talent, especially in the skill positions, where expectations have been surpassed with exceptional play in particular from freshmen such as Steve Manfro and Devin Lucien, and after a horrendous first game, even from rookie placekicker Ka’imi Fairbaim. On defense, the biggest single surprise has been the tremendous play of converted received Anthony Barr at outside linebacker, especially with the loss of Patrick Larimore.
This coming weekend will be telling for both teams. Unfinished will lead his brain surgeons against Cal, which didn’t figure to be more than a .500 team at best, but who are coming off an extremely disappointing loss to No. 16 Ohio State in a game that they should have won. The Bruins play a very good Oregon State team coming off their upset win against Wisconsin.