Bruins still have big games ahead

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
7:14
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The 24-hour rule is in full effect.

Nevermind that UCLA just defeated crosstown rival USC for only the second time since 1998 in a victory that could signal a turning of the tide in the Los Angeles college football scene.

Too bad that this is the first time any UCLA player has defeated the Trojans in a heated rivalry and that they probably will be talking about it for the rest of their lives. As far as coach Jim Mora is concerned, the same rules apply to that game as have applied to every game this season: You get 24 hours to celebrate or pout and then it's on to the next one.

"As long as they talk about it after the season is over, I'm OK with it," Mora said. "I don't want to hear about it this week. They've got until after our meetings tomorrow morning to be excited about it and then they've got to get back to business and that's getting prepared to play an outstanding Stanford team."

Truth be told, that would make it more like a 40-hour rule, so maybe there is some additional time allotted for this one. Still the message remains that UCLA still has some unfinished business on the field.

No. 8 Stanford (9-2, 7-1) visits No. 17 UCLA (9-2, 6-2) for a game that has an impact of the futures of both teams.

Stanford is looking to secure the Pac-12 North Division and if the Cardinal win, it would set up a rematch with the Bruins in the conference title game in Palo Alto. A UCLA victory coupled with an Oregon victory over Oregon State would mean UCLA has to travel to Eugene, Ore. to play the Ducks in the Pac-12 title game for the second consecutive year.

Another scenario is that if UCLA wins and Oregon loses, then UCLA and Stanford would meet at the Rose Bowl for the second time in six days. Some might say UCLA would be better off losing to Stanford to avoid playing Oregon in the title game, even if it means playing the game at Stanford. To that, Mora says baloney.

"Thinking about losing a game this Saturday?" Mora said. "No, No, no. Come on. Jiminy Christmas. If I thought that way, I should never be in this business."

Of course, if Mora wants to win Saturday, he's going to have to keep his players focused and motivated after the USC victory. Not only did that win end years of misery against the Trojans, but it also clinched a spot in the conference title game, so the Stanford game has very little in the way of small-picture ramifications. The Bruins can lose the game and still with the conference title.

But big picture, it still carries some weight. UCLA is No. 17 in the BCS standings and, unless the Bruins win the Pac-12 title game, they need to be in the top-14 to qualify for a BCS Bowl. A win over No. 8 Stanford would go a long way toward getting there. Also, defeating Stanford is the only hope UCLA for to play the conference title game at home. As mentioned, the Bruins would also need an Oregon State victory over Oregon, but Mora said he had no question his team would remain focused because there is still a lot to play for this week.

"I think this team's motivation is to win as many games as they can and go out and perform at a high level every Saturday and their motivation is to win every week," Mora said. "I don't think their motivation ever at any point this year was just to beat USC and just to win the Pac-12 South. That's not the sense I got from being around these guys."

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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