September 8, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (35) and linebacker Anthony Barr (11) celebrate after bringing down Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez (3) during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Football Preview: South No. 3 UCLA Bruins


October 27, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Season Preview Series

South:

4. Arizona

5. Utah

6. Colorado

 

2012 record:9-5 (6-3 Pac-12

)

Key returnees: LB Anthony Barr, WR Shaquelle Evans, QB Brett Hundley, OG  Xavier Su’o-Filo

Key departures: TE Joe Faria, RB Jonathan Franklin, DT Datone Jones, DE Cassius Marsh

Key additions: S Priest Willis (Marcos De Niza HS/Tempe, Ariz.), DE Kylie Fitts (Redlands East Valley/Redlands, Calif.), LB Deon Hollins (Thurgood Marshall HS/Missouri City, TX)

2012 season recap:

Jim Mora Jr.’s first year on campus couldn’t have gone better. He ran a (very talented) freshman out at quarterback and he thrived. Anthony Barr emerged as arguably the best defensive player in the conference (Will Sutton would like to have a word on that). And he led the Bruins to their first win over USC in seven years, this one coming after a 50-0 blowout the year before.

If not for two straight losses to Stanford – even just one win would’ve done it – the Bruins would have been crowned Pac-12 Champions and gotten a chance to play in their home stadium against Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl. Instead, UCLA was thrown into the Holiday Bowl, where it disappointed, losing to Baylor in a surprisingly noncompetitive game, 49-26. Nonetheless, the Bruins had five players named to the first and second All Pac-12 teams and eight more honorable mentions.

2013 season preview:

With the success the Mora and the Bruins saw last season comes lofty expectations for this one. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they lose a few key contributors from last season and the scheduling gods were not on their side this season. Fortunately, they do return one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 and Barr, the All Pac-12 linebacker from last season.

If not for missing out on Washington State and having to face Oregon in Eugene, UCLA may have been my pick for first in the South. That’s how close the top three teams in the division are talent-wise. It will most likely come down to head-to-head match ups and schedule difficulty. I think the Bruins lose out on both, though their home game versus Arizona State in Week 12 should be one of marquee matchups of the season.

2013 predicted finish: 7-5 (5-4 Pac-12), third in the Pac-12 South

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