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Dr. Saturday’s Too Early Top 10: No. 7 UCLA

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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The 2014 season might be eight months away, but it's never too early to start thinking about the teams that could challenge for the new College Football Playoff. This week, we'll count down Dr. Saturday's Top 10 teams for 2014. Past entries: No. 10: LSU, No. 9 Stanford, No. 8 Oklahoma

UCLA Bruins
2013 record:
10-3, 6-3 Pac-12
Final AP ranking: 16

Bowl result: def. Virginia Tech 42-12 Sun Bowl

Top returners: QB Brett Hundley, RB/LB Myles Jack, WR Jordan Payton, WR Devin Lucien, WR Devin Fuller, RB Jordon James, C Jake Brendel, LT Torian White, RT Simon Goines

Top losses: LB Anthony Barr, LB Jordan Zumwalt, OT Xavier Su'a-Filo, WR Shaq Evans, DE Cassius Marsh

Overview: Expectations were high for UCLA coming into the 2013 and were quickly derailed thanks to back-to-back losses to ranked Stanford and Oregon teams in the middle of the season. But this was a young UCLA team that learned valuable lessons from those experiences and will only get better in 2014.

That improvement started with the return of quarterback Brett Hundley, who put the NFL on hold another year. He is the anchor of an offense that returns nine starters, including four members of the offensive line. And that doesn’t include freshman Myles Jack, who became a standout running back and linebacker for the Bruins.

Hundley established himself as one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, but one of the biggest knocks against him was his decision-making, which is something he will need to refine this offseason. The Bruins also need to scale back on his running. Hundley led the team in rushing, and some of that was out of necessity because of injuries, but if Jordon James and Jack can shoulder more of that load, it will make for a better offense.

Defensively, the Bruins do lose linebackers Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt, who were two of their star players, but eight players return from a unit that saw a lot of help from a slew of freshman, especially during the latter half of the season.

The biggest thing that stands between UCLA and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff is the Pac-12. That league has become one of the nation’s toughest conferences in the past few years and the Bruins have struggled some in conference play. However, thanks to several young players getting meaningful playing time in 2013, the Bruins do have one of the league’s deepest teams and that should serve them well in 2014.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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