After defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 23-13, UCLA became the seventh team in the Pac Ten Conference to become bowl eligible. This is the first time since the Las Vegas Bowl in 2007 that the Bruins are going bowling. This is a step in the right direction for Rick Neuheisel as he tries to get UCLA back to being a perennial top ten program. With USC showing signs that they are no longer invincible, a Bowl appearance by the Bruins this season could help bring in some quality recruits that will help them move up in the Pac Ten Standings in 2010.
UCLA got a strong performance by their defense in their victory over ASU. The Bruin defense forced six turnovers. The Sun Devils were responsible for five fumbles and one interception. Coming into this week UCLA had the fourth rated defense (total defense) in the Pac Ten Conference. LB Kyle Bosworth is 10th in the Pac Ten in tackles with 39. FS Rahim Moore leads the Pac Ten with 9 interceptions and CB Alterraun Verner is tied for 5th in the conference with 3 picks. The Bruins defense was a big reason why they were able to defeat Tennessee at Neyland Stadium 19-15 and Kansas State 23-9 at the Rose Bowl earlier in the season. UCLA did lose five games in a row, but the loss of their starting QB Kevin Prince was a big reason why the Bruins hit a rough patch in the middle of the season. The Bruins were able to right the ship by winning three in a row in the month of November. Rick Neuheisel and the rest of the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for getting the team to respond in a positive fashion and keep fighting for a Bowl bid.
With a Bowl game in the month of December UCLA will now benefit from a couple extra weeks of practice. The extra practices will enhance the development of RFR QB Kevin Prince (6 TD's, 5 INT's) and Sophomore WR's Taylor Embree (38 Receptions) and Nelson Rosario (28 Receptions). Now UCLA will turn their attention to their cross-town rival the USC Trojans. Last season USC defeated the Bruins 28-7 and in 2007 the Trojans beat them 24-7. The last time the Bruins beat USC was a 13-9 victory in 2006 that prevented the Trojans from going to the National Championship. After USC was dominated on the ground by Oregon and Stanford it will be interesting to see if the Bruins can control the line of scrimmage against the Trojans. A win against USC would be a great way to end the regular season for UCLA.