After starting the 1982 school year ranked No. 18, UCLA slowly moved up in the polls, finishing the season at No. 5 in the nation with a 10-1-1 record. UCLA won the Rose Bowl that season, defeating Michigan 24-14.
UCLA had high expectations in 1987, entering the season ranked No. 3, but a week two loss to No. 2 Nebraska dropped UCLA to No. 13 in the polls. The Bruins bounced back into the top 10 midway through the season, ending the year ranked No. 9 after defeating Florida 20-16 in the Aloha Bowl.
The Bruins spent the entirety of the 1998 season in the top 10 after opening the year ranked No. 6 in the nation. After 10 straight wins, UCLA lost its final two games to finish the year at No. 8. The second of those losses was UCLA's 38-31 defeat at the hands of Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
2005 was the last time the Bruins broke into the top 10. UCLA started the season unranked but jumped up in the polls after a 47-40 win over No. 10 Cal. UCLA finished the season ranked No. 16 and won the Sun Bowl in a matchup against Northwestern.