UCLA 17, Arizona 7: Head coach Jim Mora

UCLA head coach Jim Mora talked about the Bruins’ 17-7 win over No. 14 Arizona, one that kept his team alive in the Pac-12 South race.

“We are 7-2 and it has not been easy,” he said. “They keep fighting. That’s what we’re supposed to do, but not everybody does it.”

He addressed UCLA’s penalties (11 flags, 118 lost yards), quarterback Brett Hundley’s play, and the defense’s resurgent performance.

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Paul Perkins joins UCLA’s 1,000-yard single season rushing club

On just his second carry Saturday night, Paul Perkins became UCLA’s latest 1,000-yard rusher.

The redshirt sophomore entered the Bruins’ game against No. 14 Arizona needing four more yards to hit quadruple digits on the season. On his first touch, he cut upfield for three yards. On his second, another three.

He is the 13th UCLA player to ever run for 1,000 yards in one season, and the latest since Johnathan Franklin did so in 2012 with a single-season record of 1,734. Franklin, the program’s all-time leading rusher, also crossed 1,000 as a sophomore in 2010.

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What to watch: No. 25 UCLA vs. No. 14 Arizona

I have no idea what’s going to happen to UCLA tonight. The No. 25 Bruins kick off at 7:30 p.m. and could find their groove again against 14th-ranked Arizona — romping out to their most convincing win of the season. They could completely implode in a turnover-filled blowout. They could fall just short, or squeak by in yet another close effort.

Anything is possible!

What to watch at the Rose Bowl as UCLA tries to fix its own recent foot-shooting habits:

UCLA offense vs. Arizona defense: Brett Hundley has lost a fumble in three straight games now, and can’t afford another one in a game that could knock the Bruins out of the race for the Pac-12 South. Tasked with trying to pop the ball out from Hundley’s grip is linebacker Scooby Wright III, who has turned himself into college football’s resident expert in this particular field.

Wright has turned himself from a two-star recruit into one of the conference’s hardest hitters. He leads the country with five forced fumbles, his biggest one coming against Marcus Mariota to clinch the Wildcats’ upset of Oregon. He is also third in the Pac-12 in sacks (8) and second in tackles for loss (14), and is the key to the front of a 3-3-5 scheme that is only giving up 3.88 yards per carry.

Establishing the run will be key for UCLA, which is good given the roll that Paul Perkins has been on recently. Continue reading

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Five questions: Arizona Daily Star’s Daniel Berk talks Wildcats

Sitting near the top of the Pac-12 South, Arizona has quickly become the conference’s biggest surprise. On the other side of the Rose Bowl this Saturday is UCLA, arguably the conference’s biggest disappointment. Both have six wins, but the former has earned its record in far more convincing fashion than the latter. Daniel Berk from the Arizona Daily Star answered five questions about the No. 14 Wildcats.

Nearly three years in now, how has Rich Rodriguez measured up to what most Arizona fans initially expected? How much did the upset of Oregon earlier this month feel like a turning point for the program?

I think two-plus years in, he’s ahead of where most people thought he’d be. The cupboard was pretty bare when he got here other than Ka’Deem Carey, and he managed to win 16 games in two seasons and win back-to-back bowl games. I think fans were willing to be patient and let him build something, but the expectations changed and were raised going into this season after having some success the first two seasons. I think the win over Oregon was significant, but I’m not sure if it was viewed as a turning point, because Arizona has gotten some big wins like that before, but hasn’t backed them up the following weeks. So I think some fans have been waiting for a letdown game. I think a win Saturday would be more of a turning point with some of the recent struggles UA has had with UCLA. A win Saturday would also set Arizona up pretty nicely with the remainder of its schedule.

How has Rodriguez kept the Wildcats’ offense firing despite cycling through a different quarterback each year?

He’s a quarterback guru and knows how to get more out of guys at that position than most coaches in the country. Few, if any, thought B.J. Denker was a Pac-12 quarterback and he turned him into one in less than two seasons. Anu Solomon certainly had some talent coming out of Bishop Gorman High School and had other options, but the fact that he’s playing as well as he is so early in his career is both a surprise and a credit to Rodriguez and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith. Continue reading

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First look: No. 14 Arizona Wildcats

No. 25 UCLA Bruins (6-2, 3-2) vs. No. 14 Arizona Wildcats (6-1, 4-1)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., Rose Bowl
TV: ESPN (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Jessica Mendoza)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Coach: After lasting just three seasons at Michigan with a 15-22 record, Rich Rodriguez has found Arizona to be a friendler home for his spread offense.

Despite starting a different quarterback each season, the 51-year-old has guided the Wildcats to back-to-back 8-5 seasons and made them one of the country’s top-10 offenses twice in three years. Now, he has them on the cusp of their best campaign in over a decade. After upsetting then-No. 2 Oregon earlier this month, they went from unranked to No. 10 in the country — the largest jump by any team since the Associated Press poll expanded to a top 25.

Arizona hasn’t appeared in a final AP poll since 1998, when its 12-1 run made it the No. 4 team in the country.

Key players:

QB Anu Solomon, RFr., 6-2, 205 — 200/316, 2,430 yards, 20 TD, 4 INT
– Didn’t win the quarterback competition until late August, but he’s been entrusted to throw 45.1 passes per game. Third in the Pac-12 in yards per game (347.1), but eighth in completion percentage (63.3).

RB Nick Wilson, Fr., 5-10, 199 — 100 carries, 592 yards, 7 TD, 10 catches, 1 rec TD
– He’s splitting the workload with redshirt senior Terris Jones-Grigsby (70 carries, 406 yards), but Wilson is the one responsible for seven of the team’s 13 rushing touchdowns. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Quarterback Brett Hundley preaches focus on Arizona

UCLA has not played good football as of late, but it nevertheless remains in position to claim a Pac-12 South title with four games left.

To keep those hopes alive, the Bruins (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) will need to beat No. 14 Arizona on Saturday. The Wildcats are one of three teams in the division who have lost just one conference game. The others are Utah and Arizona State, who play each other this weekend.

“This is one of those weeks where, you have to understand that this is a big game for us,” UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley said. “This is a huge game.”

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