Notes: UCLA’s win over USC featured several milestones

Brett Hundley celebrates UCLA's 38-20 win over USC on Saturday, a game in which he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.

Brett Hundley celebrates UCLA’s 38-20 win over USC on Saturday, a game in which he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.

» I mentioned it in my story from UCLA’s 38-20 win over USC last night, but it’s worth repeating again: For the first time ever, the Bruins’ football program has three straight nine-win seasons.

Several times before, UCLA had gotten close. The Bruins had back-to-back nine-win seasons in the mid-1950s, but those were bracketed by a eight- and seven-win campaigns. Tommy Prothro opened his tenure a decade later with eight, nine and seven wins. And from 1982-88, Terry Donahue had five nine- or 10-win seasons broken up by seven wins in 1983 and eight wins in 1986.

Last month, Jim Mora got particularly defensive about the Bruins’ lackluster midseason performances, and challenged everyone to find a stretch of UCLA football that’s better than this one — considering youth and turnover. With UCLA potentially in line to win 11 games for the first time, his argument looks stronger by the week.

» How much has the rivalry swung? UCLA hasn’t won three straight games over USC by double digits since 1952-55, when Red Sanders coached the Bruins to 13-0, 34-0, and 17-7 victories.

» Brett Hundley finished the game against USC with all types of new UCLA records, passing Cade McNown to become the new career leader in total offensive yards (11,353) and extending his own mark of 300-yard total offense games to 19. He had his 10th career 300-yard passing game, and needs just one more to tie McNown. He ran for his 28th career touchdown, which breaks his tie with John Sciarra and puts him alone in second behind Gary Beban (35) among Bruin quarterbacks.

But despite finishing 22-of-31 for 326 yards and three touchdown passes, it was not an overly impressive game for the redshirt junior. He didn’t see the defender on his early interception near the sideline, and it was the type of coverage that had cost him turnovers before. A lot of his longer passes also benefited from yards after the catch by his receivers, or poor coverage by USC, or both.

It’s clear, however, that he trusts his offensive line more and more — something offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone confirmed after the game. He has good reason. UCLA has allowed 32 sacks this season, but just eight in its last five games. That stretch coincides with when Conor McDermott taking over as starting left tackle.

» The defensive line played its best game of the season, finally generating the type of pass rush that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had promised would come for most of the season. Continue reading

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Jim Mora is the 19th-highest paid coach in college football

Jim Mora is the third-highest paid coach in the Pac-12, and the 19th-most well-off in college football.

According to figures collected by USA Today, Mora’s $3.25 million in total pay puts him behind Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez (a hair under $3.3 million) and Washington’s Chris Petersen ($3.68 million). It did list salary numbers for Steve Sarkisian, as USC is a private institution not obligated to disclose its financial details. Sarkisian made roughly $2.25 million per year, though that would have jumped to $2.85 million in his final season.

An interesting note in the Pac-12: Mark Helfrich, who coaches first-place Oregon, makes $10,150 less than Mike MacIntyre, who coaches last-place Colorado.

Unsurprisingly, the Big Ten and the SEC each had four coaches place in the top 10. Alabama’s Nick Saban leads the country with total pay of $7,160,187. That puts him $1,524,042 ahead of Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, who holds second place.

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Paul Perkins comfortable with increased workload in UCLA’s backfield

Paul Perkins has lived up to any and all expectations in his first full season as UCLA’s starting running back, becoming the program’s 13th 1,000-yard rusher and ranking third in the Pac-12 with 117.2 yards per game.

Along the way, the redshirt sophomore has had to adjust to a much heavier workload. Last season, he only took double-digit carries five times, and finished the year with 130. This season, he has taken at least 14 carries in every game, and has a total of 190.

“It’s good to have a bye,” Perkins said. “That’s pretty much all I can say.”

Head coach Jim Mora hasn’t noticed a difference in the 5-foot-11 tailback’s performance.

“He hasn’t really shown any indication of being worn out or worn down at all,” he said. “Even on a Tuesday, he bounces back. I guess that’s the good thing about being 19 or 20 years old.” Continue reading

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Washington dismisses starting cornerback Marcus Peters

Washington has reportedly dismissed all-conference cornerback Marcus Peters, dealing a significant blow to its already thin secondary heading into Saturday’s game against No. 18 UCLA.

From the Seattle Times:

Peters got into an argument with an assistant coach during practice Wednesday, a source said, apparently the final straw in a series of run-ins with Washington’s new coaching staff. He also got into an argument with coaches during UW’s victory at Colorado on Saturday and then missed practice on Tuesday, sources said.

After injuries in the defensive backfield, the Huskies had already planned to play leading receiver John Ross III as a nickel cornerback. The Huskies could potentially start three true freshman defensive backs against the Bruins. UW ranks eighth in the Pac-12 in allowing 7.3 yards per pass attempt and 275.3 passing yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks are also completing 65.1 percent of their passes against Washington, the highest mark for any team in the conference except Arizona.

A third-year starter who led the team with three picks and 10 pass breakups, Peters is regarded as a potential first-round draft pick who is ranked the No. 13-best prospect in 2015 by CBS Sports.At least one UCLA receiver was looking forward to the matchup.

“He’s definitely an NFL corner,” said junior Jordan Payton, who leads the Bruins with 783 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches. “It’s definitely exciting. You only get a couple of those corners come your way in a lifetime, so you have to take advantage of it.”

UCLA head coach Jim Mora looked surprised this morning when asked about Peters’ dismissal: “He’s a good football player. He’s an NFL-type guy.”

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