How UCLA is poised to be a College Football Playoff contender


It’s the first Sunday of September, which means half the fan bases across college football can wake up and keep on dreaming, none more so than long-suffering UCLA diehards.

So, good morning, Bruins. Does the coffee taste better with Tiger tears? Is the bacon tastier seasoned with the false bravado of the Southeastern Conference?

UCLA’s 38-27 humbling of No. 16 Louisiana State wasn’t just a big win in Los Angeles. It was the biggest win for the Pac-12 since Oregon beat Florida State in the 2014-15 College Football Playoff semifinal played on that same pristine patch of grass in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl — and achieved maybe not coincidentally by a bunch of players recruited to their school by Chip Kelly.

This is all to say that eight-clappers should feel no hesitation on this fine morning to breathe in the idea of UCLA as a playoff contender with the ocean air.

Let’s go there. Assuming the Bruins can keep their focus and mojo going through the upcoming bye week, they don’t overlook feisty Fresno State on Sept. 18. Then it’s Stanford (embarrassed by Kansas State on Saturday), Arizona State (it’s at home, and now we can expect 70,000 strong in blue and gold, right?), Arizona (uh huh) and Washington (victims Saturday of hungry Montana Grizzlies from the Football Championship Series subdivision). A 6-0 record is certainly there to be had.

No. 11 Oregon, which trailed Fresno State 24-21 early in the fourth quarter Saturday before prevailing, visits the Rose Bowl on Oct. 23, and the Ducks have real issues offensively. Then it’s on to No. 24 Utah. That two-week stretch will show us whether we are being fools right now.

After that, a trip to the Coliseum looms Nov. 20. USC could end the dream in heartbreaking fashion, but Bruins fans shouldn’t worry about that right now, especially with the Trojans’ underwhelming effort Saturday against San Jose State.

Where’s the loss? Well, it’s college football, so it’s probably hidden in there somewhere. And if UCLA does lose one, will this Pac-12 (see above) have gained enough respect to get a one-loss team into the playoff?

Oh, disregard that. The fact such a scenario could even be debated shows that this is a Sunday morning worth savoring in Westwood.

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