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A guide to the UCLA Bruins for students who don’t follow football

The UCLA Bruin football team begins its season in less than a week. This is exciting! This is one of the reasons why you came to UCLA!

“Wait,” you say. “I actually chose this school because of its academics and social atmosphere – I couldn’t care less about sports.” Sports might not be everyone’s highest priority, but one can’t help but pay a little bit of attention when news of the Bruins’ clutch victories and narrow defeats are always the talk of the campus. Regardless of personal interest, sports are a big deal.

New and returning students alike may find social situations where you’re compelled, for one reason or another, to talk about football. Before Saturday’s game against Virginia, here’s what you need to know about UCLA football so you can sound like an expert this season, even if you know nothing about sports and have never touched a football.

This guy Josh Rosen is a really big deal

Rosen, a greater L.A. native, generated more social media buzz than usual when coach Jim Mora named him the team’s starting quarterback Wednesday. It’s no surprise that the quarterback is the subject of the most intense speculation and commentary – a good quarterback is the linchpin of any decent team, since they are the team strategist and captain. He also fills the shoes of Brett Hundley, who left UCLA early—as is typical for top talent—to play in the NFL. Both are immensely skilled players, although Rosen is more of a passer and Hundley, a runner, if we want to simplify things.

People have been, and will be, talking about Rosen for two reasons. First is the fact that he is a true freshman – a new student playing on his first year of eligibility with no prior exposure to the team. This has been a cause for some concern, especially as he was chosen over redshirt junior Jerry Neuheisel, even if he is a middling player by most accounts.

Rosen’s second claim to relevance allays these concerns – he is really, really good. Depending on who you ask, he is the No. 2 or No. 1 quarterback to come out of high school in the class of 2015. Much of the coverage has been congratulatory or hopeful, with some reporters suggesting that he could finally push the team over the edge and transform the Bruins’ recent successes into a division or conference championship. Call it the two-point conversion the team needs.

Rosen is even a football player you might want to talk to off the field – and not about football. Though technically a freshman, he started college this Winter quarter, essentially leaving high school half a year early to become acclimated with campus life and academics. He boasts a 4.3 high school GPA, which is very close to the entering freshman average – and most of us don’t have to balance grades with hours of practice a day.

But there are other players on the team, too

Quarterbacks are important, but don’t have a job if they don’t have a receiver to catch a pass or offensive players that give them the chance to throw the ball in the first place. Other players deserve some attention as well.

Myles Jack is one of those players. The junior, who is starting for his second year now, is one of the Bruins’ top linebackers – in other words, a player who huddles near the line of scrimmage and stops opponents who are trying to move the ball or catch it from afar. A real rarity, Jack can play offense, too, as a running back – a key ingredient in those exciting highlight reel plays where a player magically emerges past the chaos near the line to rush or score. He also is uniquely engaged with student government. Freshman Sotonye “Soso” Jamabo is another promising RB, and he has a real sense of humor. The more experienced redshirt junior Paul Perkins is considered the best in the conference.

Wide receivers are also important people to keep an eye out for – if the camera can pan to them fast enough. They’re some of the fastest players on the team, with just enough pounds on them to shrug off tackle attempts as they catch far-flung QB passes. Junior Eldridge Massington has impressed with some surprising plays. During the UCLA flood caused by a water main break last year, he had a brief stint with watersport.

UCLA’s potential: Games to watch instead of studying

All this talk about players, but all you want to know is: “Are the Bruins any good this year? Otherwise I’ll just find something better to watch.” The hype that was around last year has been tempered by quarterback uncertainties, which means there’s less pressure on the team. Still, expect the Bruins to win most its games – my arbitrary prediction is 10-2 overall. Top national predictions place the Bruins at around No. 13. The catch is that UCLA competes at one of the most competitive conferences in the country.

Here are a few games worth watching:

  • Stanford (Oct. 15): Even the uninitiated know that the real rivalry is between Stanford and UC Berkeley. But the Cardinal have dashed championship hopes by defeating UCLA for the last six years. A losing streak ought to not outlast the Great Recession.
  • California (Oct. 22): A feel-good match, in case Stanford extends its buzzkill reputation, with our academic rival being played at home – and the only other UC school in the Pac-12.
  • USC (Nov. 28): This inclusion seems self-explanatory. But while UCLA won the last three crosstown matchups, that history won’t predict the outcome of the regular season closer as USC recovers from crippling sanctions imposed by the NCAA. In fact, the media predicted that USC will come out on top of the conference. Can the Bruins upset the predictions – and more importantly, the Trojans?

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Super Bowl Highlights As Told By Someone Who Doesn’t Watch Sports

Super Bowl Sunday is over, and students living in apartments are dreading the cleanup of viewing parties, but unfortunately not everyone had the opportunity to watch the Seattle Seahawks face off against the New England Patriots on the year’s most important day of football. Or maybe some of us just didn’t prefer to (yup, that’s me). Either way, here are some highlights from the NFL Super Bowl XLIX, as told through GIFs.

Idina Menzel sure did “Let It Go” with her vocals by nailing the national anthem.

Just like us, football players get the munchies before the game starts.

Sports stuff happens. Like kicking balls.

And touchdowns.

Looks like some serious stuff.

But then the best part: halftime. Katy Perry sure did make a “Roar” while performing for the halftime show this year.

She came into the stadium on her “Dark Horse” (if you call that a horse).

She might have kissed a girl, but no kisses for Lenny Kravitz.

She pointed out to the stage and told us to live our “Teenage Dream,” but for most of us that teenage ship has sailed. Sigh.

Katy Perry danced around with her “California Gurls.” But wait, is that a  I’m not even gonna ask.

Missy Elliot joined too, and she sure did “Work It.”

Then Katy Perry flew up into the sky like a “Firework,” and ended with a bang.

And there were the much anticipated commercials. Kate Upton made her way off of Trivia Crack and onto our TV screens with her ad for Game of War.

Kim Kardashian speaks of the tragedy of unused cellular data.

Budweiser used puppies to make everyone’s heart melt.

Oh yeah, and then more sports stuff happened. Like touchdowns.

And impressive hand-eye coordination.

A little bit of dancing.

Maybe the dance battle went a little too far…

Tom Brady looks happy. So I’m assuming the New England Patriots won.

Yep. They sure did.

Final score:

New England Patriots      28
Seattle Seahawks                     24

Congratulations to the Pats…

But we all know who the real winner was tonight. You live your life, Mr. Shark.


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UCLA Basketball Commit Zach LaVine Wins BallisLife Dunk Contest

 Each year, BallisLife holds a series of basketball competitions for top-tier high school players from around the country. Taking place in Long Beach, California, the event includes a dunk contest, in which participants show off their creativity and jumping abilities. UCLA commit Zach LaVine placed first in the contest.

LaVine is a 6’3″ point guard from Washington. His highlight videos show off his polished passing abilities and insane shooting skills, often from feet behind the three-point arc. LaVine was ranked 11th in his position by ESPN and fourth by, and was named Mr. Basketball for the state of Washington.

My own experience with basketball is limited to my time on an intramural basketball team that went 0-4 (we tallied a combined double-digit score over those four games). But I know a good dunk when I see one. Let’s talk about these five dunks.

Dunk No. 1: Lobbed pass to between the legs AKA Class is in session

LaVine starts off with a huge dunk. While between-the-legs dunks are not uncommon, this caliber jam is usually saved for later rounds. LaVine makes a statement that he’s starting off big with the intention of only going bigger. I call this dunk “Class is in Session” because he’s beginning his series of dunks strong. Also, my third grade teacher used to start off class with an in-between-the-legs dunk (just kidding).

Dunk No. 2: Lobbed ball to behind the back dunk AKA the Pee-Wee Herman

From his highlight tapes, I was skeptical that LaVine would be in a dunk competition. His repertoire of skills suggested that he could dunk, but it was not necessarily his strongest ability. As he lobbed the ball in the air, however, he grabbed it with one hand, switched hands behind his back, and slammed it in. For those of you who cannot imagine this dunk, it kind of looks like Pee-Wee Herman’s dance in midair and with a ball in play. Awesome.

Dunk No. 3Lobbed ball to cocked back arm AKA the Jai Alai

LaVine started about four feet behind the arc. This would lead most to believe that he was just going to shoot the ball during a dunk contest – but that’s silly. Once again LaVine lobs the ball in the air but this time he grabs the ball and cocks back his arm to behind his head. My skepticism had me fooled for a second time because I thought this would be a dunk that anybody could do (disclaimer: not everybody can dunk like this).

But wait a second.  No way.

He’s still in the air.  Excuse me, Mr. LaVine, do you mind staying in the air while I do a quick 5-minute work out in my room?  Thank you. I return just in time for BOOM. At first glance, sure it was a powerful dunk, but did you notice the camera actually shake a second after he dunked it?  This doesn’t happen in any other dunks in the video. Seismic activity is not out of the question.

Dunk No. 4:  Between the legs to pass off of the backboard to 360 spin AKA the cheat code. 

It was difficult to literarily describe this dunk, mainly because I know it better as “square, circle, circle, x, x, up, down, up, down” in “NBA Live 2003.” The easy part is the between the legs jump pass. He must have been doing lots of plyometrics to train, because his ability to land and go straight into a 360 dunk is awesome. The recovery time is extremely key, in that he still needs to catch the ball and spin all in one motion. LaVine’s acrobatics could be beneficial for the Bruins next year as the point guard looks for the open man and uses his body to his advantage.

Dunk No. 5:  Lobbed pass to between the legs reverse AKA money AKA Blue Ivy

The highest sign of praise in a dunk competition is the towel spin and throw. LaVine received multiple gross towels to the face after his monstrous dunk. He practically did the entire Cha-Cha Slide in flight. I can’t help but wonder what would be going through LaVine’s head during the dunk, mainly because he was in the air for so long. He had the time to answer some of life’s greatest questions. He absolutely slammed the rim, and almost fell because of his jump height and body contortion.

Which of Zach’s dunks was your favorite?  Tweet us your answer @dbmojo or comment below.

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