Hope is a dangerous thing.
Those were words of warning issued by Red to Andy Dufresne in the film “The Shawshank Redemption”, after Dufresne is sent to prison for a crime he did not commit.
And those are words that UCLA fans are beginning to understand, after the Bruins’ high expectations for the season were dashed by Saturday’s 24-10 loss to Stanford.
With six games completed, UCLA football is at the midpoint of its regular season, and it’s been a roller coaster of a ride so far. After breaking out of the gate at full sprint, trouncing some early season opponents and setting records along the way, UCLA’s race to a BCS bowl has slowed to more of a canter at this point.
After starting the season ranked No. 21, the Bruins shot up, finding themselves ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 2005 – but as with their previous trip to national prominence, the Bruins’ stay was short lived, dropping down to No. 12 after a week in the spotlight.
In its loss to Stanford, UCLA’s offensive firepower, which had been one of its defining factors, was missing as redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley threw for under 200 yards for the first time all season. The Bruins’ offense was shackled down by penalties, play calling and injuries, mustering just 10 points in the contest compared to their previous average of 45.8. What had been a strength for UCLA turned into a glaring hole that not even a Rita Hayworth
it’s a reference to the poster Andy Dufresne hung on his wall in prison to cover up the tunnel he was digging.” class=”inline-comment collapsed”> poster could cover up.
Things don’t get any easier for the Bruins in the season’s second half, as UCLA plays No. 2 Oregon on Saturday and will also face two fringe top-25 teams in Washington and Arizona State.
But while any national title hopes are likely dwindling, the Bruins still have a reason for optimism. UCLA boasts a young and talented squad now considered the top team in Los Angeles, and is finally garnering some national recognition. So while the win over Stanford eluded them, UCLA’s otherwise strong first half to the season will pay dividends down the road, as more recruits and national pundits begin to take the Bruins seriously.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the Bruins – and unlike Dufresne’s, this tunnel doesn’t lead to a sewer.