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2016 Pac-12 preview countdown - #4 UCLA: Bruins almost fulfill potential, again

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NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The long torture of summer sports is almost over, but we still have a little ways to go. To get things ready, I went over every single game on the Pac-12 schedule in 2016 and predicted records for each team.

I'm going to countdown how I think the teams ultimately stack up in the final regular season standings with snapshots of each team.

#12 was Oregon State

#11 was Colorado

#10 was Cal

#9 was Arizona

#8 was Utah

#7 was Arizona State

#6 was Washington State

#5 was Washington

#4 is...UCLA

Prediction: 9-3 (7-2) second in South

Wins: UNLV, at BYU, Arizona, at Arizona State, at Washington State, Utah, at Colorado, Oregon State, at Cal

Losses: at Texas A&M, Stanford, USC

Bowl: Sun Bowl vs. NCStateThis seems to be becoming a format for the Bruins - load up on talent, achieve (but always underachieve just enough), lose a lot of talent to the NFL, repeat. I have a feeling the Bruins will have another similar season to that formula in 2016 and continue to succeed under Jim Mora, but just never quite get to the level where they could be. I know nine regular season wins and seven conference wins is pretty amazing, but it just seems like business, as usual these days in Westwood.

Non-Conference: The Bruins have one of the toughest non-conference slates in the nation as they play at Texas A&M and at BYU. The Bruins could easily win both of those games, but I will play it safe and say they win one and lose one.

In-Conference: The Bruins have a nice in-conference schedule. They avoid Oregon and Washington in the North and get the two toughest teams in the conference in my opinion (Stanford and USC) at home and with huge gaps between them.

I think the Bruins will do a good job of beating the teams they should beat in the Pac-12 this year. Having Josh Rosen at quarterback and a loaded defense should keep them consistent, but I think they won’t get over the hump in their showdown games. Unfortunately, I don’t think they can get wins against Stanford or USC this year, even though they are both at home, and it keeps them out of the Pac-12 Championship Game and shoots them down the bowl selection ladder since they have disappointed in the Foster Farms and Holiday bowls in recent years.

How Will This Feel In December?

It is very hard for a fanbase and program to have a bad taste in its mouth with the amount of games UCLA has won under Mora, but I think even a 9-3 7-2 showing for the Bruins in 2016, won’t get people excited, especially if they lose to USC and the Trojans win the South, again. No one is going to be fired, and the Bruins will be just fine, but I think that general malaise that hangs around the Bruins will stick as the Bruins get ready to head to El Paso for bowl season.