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Underrated Teams in 2013: The UCLA Bruins

Underrated Teams in 2013: The UCLA Bruins

Jul 14, 2013

Everyone’s list of top football programs for the upcoming season is sure to be filled with powerhouse names such as Alabama, Georgia, and Notre Dame. One team a lot of people are going to make the mistake of overlooking is the UCLA Bruins.

The Bruins finished last season at a respectable 9 wins, 5 losses, going 6-3 in conference play. Though it may seem underwhelming, their season showed flashes of greatness and plenty of reason to believe they’ll be a top contender this year.

The Bruins finished 20th overall in passing yards gained, and with the return of sophomore phenom Brett Hundley at the quarterback position this year, expect their passing to keep getting better. Last year Hundley had 38 TD’s, 29 of them passing, had a 66.5 completion percentage, and only 11 interceptions. Returning as a sophomore he will have another year under his belt and should have better control of both his passes and the flow of the game.

Though they will lose their leading rusher, senior Jonathon Franklin, they have talented running-backs to fill the spot, including the dangerous Damien Thigpen and the fast-as-lightning Jordan James.  Neither is expected to completely make up for the loss of Franklin, both should fill his shoes nicely as Brett Hundley is capable of sharing the rushing load as well. With Hundley’s accurate passing and ability to rush, the transition into starting running back should go rather smoothly for whichever back is chosen as the starter.

On the other side of the ball, expect the same ruthless tenacity that you saw from the Bruins last year. After a season in which UCLA was 4th in sacks and 28th in interceptions, it’s safe to assume they’re going to continue to put a lot of pressure on teams defensively. When you calculate the high-powered offense of the Bruins into the equation, this defense could get nasty early on in games.

Most of the popular lists and polls of the top NCAA football programs don’t have the Bruins in the top-25, but as the season begins and teams see how hard it is to deal with this rapidly improving UCLA team, they’ll most likely get penciled in.

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