LOS ANGELES -- UCLA Bruins coach Jim Mora said he is not concerned about his team losing focus or getting too excited after a dominating victory over Arizona pushed the Bruins ahead of crosstown rival USC in the Pac-12 standings and the national rankings two weeks before the teams meet.
UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) is No. 18 in the BCS standings, one spot ahead of USC (6-3, 4-3). The Bruins are No. 17 in the Associated Press poll, four spots ahead of the No. 21 Trojans. It is the first time in 10 years that UCLA has been ranked ahead of USC.
"They haven’t been distracted up to this point," Mora said. "They’ve done a tremendous job of focusing on the here and now and on the goal that is directly in front of them. The goal that is directly in front of them is the Washington State Cougars. So that’s what we think about."
Others, however, are thinking about USC. This is the first time sine 2001 that UCLA has a better record than the Trojans through nine games and the Bruins control their own fate in the Pac-12 race. But the Trojans do, too. If UCLA defeats Washington State Saturday and USC defeats Arizona State, then next week's showdown will decide the Pac-12 South champion. Quarterback Brett Hundley said he has to keep telling fans that there is still a game to be played before the USC game.
"There’s been a lot of people talking about the SC game, but I try to remind everybody that they have an opponent who is not us this week and we have Washington State," he said. "That shouldn’t be coming in to our heads and it hasn’t. We’re preparing for Washington State and we will play them on Saturday and then after that we’ll get ready for USC."
The Cougars are 2-7, 0-6 in the Pac-12. Still, UCLA will play Washington State on Saturday on the road, in a difficult environment with temperatures expected to be in the 20's by the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. With UCLA coming off a dominant 66-10 victory over Arizona and a showdown with USC looming the following week, it is a classic trap game, but Mora said his team will be prepared.
"I don’t believe in trap games," Mora said. "I believe that is a term that the media and fans use. Coaches don’t use it. For us, it’s just about getting on to the next game, focusing on what we need to do to win this game."
Said Hundley, "Every team is dangerous. We don’t play the record, we play the team."