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UCLA Back on Top?

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Bruins Maul Colorado to Gain Control of Pac-12 South Division

By G. Montgomery, BVN Staff –

The 2011 football season could most aptly be remembered by borrowing the dormant NBA’s tag line ‘Where Amazing Happens”.

UCLA’s 44-6 thrashing of the wounded Colorado Buffaloes propelled the Bruins right to the top of the Pac-12 South division and a shot at playing in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game.

“We’re playing SC for the championship. That’s the way it should be. That’s the way it used to be. When I was in school, this was the game you always pointed to,” said Rick Neuheisel.

Amazingly, Neuheisel and his team, left for dead at least twice this season, have risen from the ashes and could not only play in the Pac-12 championship game but also land a big postseason bowl payday.

But before we go there, let’s examine the reality of UCLA’s current situation. It is something akin to Tebow Mania. It’s unfolding in plain view so there is no sleight of hand or optical illusion involved but still you have to question how a 6-5 team could possibly be in such a strong position.

“Say all you want about the lack of great teams on this side of the division or blah blah blah, but the bottom line is that we’re playing for the championship,” said Neuheisel.

Neuheisel seized the moment to accentuate the positive and sublimly lobby for the final year of his contract. However, Colorado (2-10; 1-7 Pac-12) is not having much fun in its inaugural Pac-12 season.

Coach Jon Embree is rebuilding a program that has suffered nearly a decade of mediocrity from a variety of administrative and personnel wounds.

The Buffaloes entered Saturdays contest with 68 players on the roster and 15 freshmen in the lineup, the team with the seventh most true freshmen playing in the nation.

Coming off its lone Pac-12 victory over Arizona last week, the Buffaloes were looking for a better showing against UCLA.

“You have to come out and match their energy and passion and we didn’t do that. We were OK early, but the first pick that turned into six and having a chance to come back and do something after that, we just couldn’t sustain anything” said Coach Jon Embry.

To add to his misery, Emery was coaching against his son Taylor a senior Bruins’ wide receiver playing behind Nelson Rosario. Taylor was held to just 2 catches for 13-yards.

“Never want to do that again (coach against his son). I’m glad it’s a one-time deal. It’s awkward. You’re cheering against him. After the game, I told him I loved him. I told him congratulations for getting bowl eligible, because that was his goal going into his senior year. He didn’t want to finish by not going to a bowl game,” said Embry.

To say the game was a one-sided affair is an understatement. Kevin Prince was 15-19 for 225-yards and 4 touchdowns. Prince also rushed for 91-yards. Jonathan Franklin rushed for 162-yards on 15 carries. UCLA had 328-yards of total rushing yards.

Unfortunately, amidst all of the celebration, a brief examination of UCLA’s season record offers a somewhat troubling pattern going into Saturday’s game against USC.

After nearly every win, UCLA has lost the next game on the road. And even more troubling, Neuheisel’s Bruins have barely shown-up on those road losses. UCLA is 5-1 at home and 1-4 away from the Rose Bowl this season.

The Bruins have won consecutive games only once this season, beating Cal and Arizona State, both at home.

With USC and Matt Barkley seemingly peaking. UCLA will have to break their season long pattern and play the best road game they have played all season.

G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

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