Don’t ask Chip Kelly about Stanford’s 11-year winning streak over UCLA football.
He isn’t interested.
“It’s irrelevant to this game,” said the coach following Monday’s practice. “I don’t think because someone lost three years ago that that has an impact on the game this season. It doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter if it’s Stanford-UCLA or Army-Navy, the game could have been lost four years ago – it should not affect what goes on now.”
Despite the fact that not a single player on the Bruins’ roster has ever beaten the Cardinal, Kelly said the rivalry’s recent history should have zero mental effect on his players heading into Thursday’s matchup.
“All of our players weren’t here a year ago, most of them,” Kelly said. “We’re such a young team, I don’t think that has any relevance to some of those guys. They were never here for it, so I don’t think it’s a real big factor.”
However, unlike Kelly, some players, such as senior center Boss Tagaloa, said they are hoping to “reverse the curse.”
Tagaloa – a Northern California native – has played in each of UCLA’s previous three meetings with Stanford. He said that although he doesn’t know when the Bruins last beat the Cardinal, he is focused on getting a win in the rivalry before his time in blue and gold is up.
“I just know that I haven’t beaten Stanford yet, so I want get this last (win) before I get up out of here,” Tagaloa said.
Tagaloa also said the team is feeling good after getting the chance to recover physically during the bye week, and added that the energy at practice this week has been positive despite the program’s second straight 1-5 start.
“(Practice has) been good. No head-hanging, no nothing,” Tagaloa said. “Everybody who comes out just works.”
UCLA closed out the first half of its season with a 17-point loss to Oregon State at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 5, one of the Bruins’ three home losses on the year.
However, despite UCLA’s five losses through six weeks, redshirt freshman defensive back Rayshad Williams doesn’t think the Bruins are far from figuring things out.
“(We’re) super close,” Williams said. “We’re literally just one play away or one drive away from being where we want to be at.”
After starting 1-5 last season, UCLA went on to finish 3-9, displaying an upward trajectory down the stretch with wins over USC and California.
The progression from the end of last season hasn’t yet translated into wins this year, but the Bruins will have a chance to repeat last year’s late-season success Thursday.