Vento: Has Exposed UCLA Football been Overhyped?

Posted on October 8, 2021

  By Edward Vento, SportsPac12

UCLA fans don’t want to hear this, but I believe we may have put the cart before the horse with UCLA football.

Coming off consecutive seasons of 3-9, 4-8, and 3-4, the sentiment surrounding the Bruins in 2021 was clear: Win games, or it might be time to send Chip Kelly packing.

A 44-10 romping of Hawaii in “Week Zero” was nothing more than taking care of business. But then along came the then-16th-ranked LSU, two years removed from the national championship, and UCLA takes the Tigers down 38-27.

UCLA’s Zach Charbonnet vs. Hawaii. | Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

That win propelled the Bruins to the 16th spot in the AP Poll, and up to 13th after a bye week, as teams around them fell.

UCLA’s beat-down of LSU was called a “signature” win when, in reality, it should’ve been the expectation. LSU was 5-5 last season, with defense ranked 13th in the SEC in yards per game, good for 124th in the country.

The Tigers also ranked 98th in the country in points per game, allowing 34.9.

LSU currently sits at 3-2, as does UCLA, with losses at home to Fresno State, who just lost to Hawaii, and to No. 22 Arizona State last weekend.

UCLA’s Kyle Phillips vs LSU | John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Now, these aren’t necessarily bad losses, but the manner in which they came, certainly wasn’t encouraging.

After the first two games of the season, it looked like the Bruins’ experienced defense—with no starter younger than a fourth-year senior, under coordinator Jerry Azzinaro—was going to be the strong suit.

But since the LSU game, the defense has allowed 35.3 points and 464 yards per game.

The cherry on top for the defense was the final drive of the game from injured Fresno State QB Jake Haener, where he took the Bulldogs 75 yards in 40 seconds to win the game.

UCLA’s Mitchell Agude chases Fresno State’s Jake Haener | Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As for the offensive side of the ball, it hasn’t really been an issue for the Bruins.

Through five games this season, UCLA sits at fourth in the Pac-12 in yards per game with 429.4, and second in points per game with 35.8.

The 23 points the Bruins scored last Saturday against Arizona State was the lowest point total of the season thus far, and all 23 points were scored in the first half.

UCLA might still have what it takes to finish with a record along the lines of 7-5, but the team that penciled-out as Pac-12 South favorite after two games seems to have vanished.

Or maybe it was never even there.

—Recent Edward Vento Stories—

Subscribe to our newsletter and keep up on the latest.