The UCLA Bruins and embattled head coach Rick Neuheisel will have their hands full Friday night in the inaugural Pac-12 Football Championship Game against the No. 4 Oregon Ducks. The Bruins are coming off a humiliating 50-0 defeat at the hands of the USC Trojans, and are a whopping 30-point underdogs against Oregon.
The Bruins' players were given Sunday off after the night game against USC.
"It's a different kind of situation to be coming off such an emotional low, and yet be pointed in such a great opportunity," Neuheisel said in a press conference on Sunday. "We have to discard the baggage that accompanies emotional lows, and move toward the preparation that is required to play a top notch opponent like Oregon."
Neuheisel, amid reports that his job is in jeopardy, insisted he has to stay positive, because that's the only way he knows how to deal with adversity. "Every time we've taken one on the chin, we've responded, especially as the stakes rise," Neuheisel said.
Indeed the Bruins have suffered five blowout defeats this season, and have won the next game after the first four:
- UCLA lost 49-20 to Texas on September 17, then won at Oregon State 27-19 one week later
- UCLA lost 45-19 at Stanford on October 1, then won at home against Washington State 28-25 the next week
- UCLA lost 48-12 at three-win Arizona on October 20, then beat Cal at home 31-14 nine days later
- UCLA lost 31-6 at Utah on November 12, then beat Colorado at home 45-6 one week later
It seems the pattern here for UCLA is that they have been pasted by the good teams on their schedule, and have been able to beat a good portion of the bad teams. Unfortunately for the Bruins, their opponent in the Pac-12 Championship Game is not a bad team, but in fact a top ten team in the country.
Did I mention the game Friday night was in Eugene, Oregon, home of the Ducks? Good luck staying positive, Rick.
The inaugural Pac-12 Championship Football Game will be played on Friday, December 2 at 5 p.m. PT on Fox. For more news and information on UCLA football, be sure to read Bruins Nation.