VIDEO: Brett Hundley on what USC rivalry means to his UCLA legacy

If UCLA beats USC on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, Brett Hundley would leave the program with three straight rivalry wins under his belt. That’s something that former Bruin quarterbacks Gary Beban (Heisman winner) and Troy Aikman (first overall NFL draft pick) can’t even say.

“It would mean a lot to look back and say I’ve been undefeated versus Southern Cal,” Hundley said. “But at the same time, right now … the focus is on us and getting the victory.”

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UCLA vs. USC will kick off at 5 p.m. Saturday on ABC

With the Pac-12 South at stake, UCLA will host USC in a primetime slot this coming Saturday.

The rivalry game will kick off at the Rose Bowl at 5 p.m., with a national broadcast on ABC. Arizona State had held the inside track to the Pac-12 title game for the last month, but its upset loss to Oregon State last night shifts to spotlight to Pasadena — where the Bruins and the Trojans will play a de facto division elimination game.

With two weeks left, five teams still remain mathematically alive to win the Pac-12 South. But despite the hodgepodge of potential tiebreaker scenarios, UCLA holds the clearest path: win out against USC and Stanford, and the Bruins will earn a second shot at Oregon at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 5.

Beat the Ducks, and a playoff berth that seemed laughable a month ago will be within UCLA’s grasp.

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Jim Mora defends UCLA football against ‘gloom and doom’

UCLA slipped past Colorado on Saturday with a 40-37 road win in double overtime, but it was a victory that saw the Bruins make mistake after mistake against a lesser opponent.

A day later, Jim Mora wanted to remind everyone that this program looked far worse not too long ago.

“Let’s all remember that the last game UCLA played before this whole thing started was a 50-0 ass-kicking,” he said Sunday.

The third-year head coach was referring, of course, to the Bruins’ 50-0 loss to USC in 2011 — one that came just days after former head coach Rick Neuheisel said UCLA had “closed the gap” with their crosstown rivals.

Technically, the Bruins played two more games before Mora took over: a 49-31 loss to then-No. 8 Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, and a 20-14 loss to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

But that 50-0 shellacking against the Trojans was the low point that prompted Neuheisel’s firing just days later. Two weeks after that, UCLA hired Mora — who, despite his team’s recent struggles, orchestrated a quick turnaround that few expected.

“We’re only two and a half years into our tenure here, and we’ve won 75 percent of our regular season games with a completely overhauled roster,” Mora said. “I don’t know if you guys know that, but we’re 24-8 in regular season games here since we’ve been here, with a completely overhauled roster.” Continue reading

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UCLA ranked below USC in AP poll for the first time since 2012

For the first time in almost two years, UCLA is ranked below USC.

The Bruins fell a spot to No. 12 in the Associated Press poll following Saturday’s 42-35 win over Memphis — their second straight closer-than-expected victory over a seemingly inferior opponent. UCLA had started the season at No. 7, and was a trendy pick to make the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff.

Meanwhile, USC rose to No. 9 in Sunday’s poll after upsetting Stanford, 13-10, on the road. This is the first time the Trojans have been ranked above UCLA in the AP poll since Oct. 28, 2012, when they were seven spots ahead at No. 18.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Oregon rose a spot to No. 2 — earning 16 first-place votes after a 46-27 blowout of then-No. 7 Michigan State. The Cardinal and Arizona State are ranked 15th and 16th, respectively.

Full Associated Press poll below: Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: USC’s Josh Shaw (doesn’t) save nephew from drowning

» USC cornerback Josh Shaw sprained his ankles saving his nephew from drowning during a family social on Saturday. Remarkably, Shaw leaped off second-story balcony when he saw the 7-year-old struggling, landing on the concrete before crawling into the pool.

UPDATE: Serious doubts about Shaw’s story have surfaced, and USC is investigating further.

» Anu Solomon officially became Arizona’s starting quarterback, marking the first time since freshmen became eligible in 1972 that the Wildcats will open the season with one behind center.

» A closer look at the running ability of Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly, whom Jim Mora called “tough as nails.” Continue reading

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Pac-12 Media Days roundup: Bruins and Trojans and Huskies; oh my!

Photo gallery from Day 2 of Pac-12 Media Days (Andy Holzman/Daily News)

The Pac-12 stretched its annual media event across two days for the first time, In case you missed any of it, here’s a roundup of all the coverage that appeared in Los Angeles News Group newspapers.

Day 1
– Columnist Jill Painter, on the “glitz and glamour” of the Pac-12′s coaches and athletes.
– The Pac-12 returns 10 of its starting quarterbacks … leaving defensive backs somewhat forgotten.
– It’s a high-scoring conference, but its member teams find the end zone in different ways.
Steve Sarkisian does not care that his USC team received just one division vote to UCLA’s 37.

Day 2
– He isn’t the biggest UCLA name, but linebacker Eric Kendricks is ready to play.
– How many good quarterbacks does the Pac-12 have? Not one, not two, not three
– Washington suspended quarterback Cyler Miles, the Pac-12 Networks are going international, and other conference notes.

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Pac-12 notes: Mike Leach thinks Connor Halliday is better than your quarterback

Connor Halliday is the best quarterback in the country, according to Connor Halliday’s coach.

After talking up the Pac-12′s depth behind center on Wednesday, Washington State’s Mike Leach said he would take his redshirt senior over just about anybody else.

“You might be rooting for your guy, and I don’t care what you think,” Leach said. “He’s better than your guy is.”

Some other Pac-12 Media Day highlights from the conference’s most quotable coach (as well as other coaches and players) …

» Asked how he would pick a bear-hunting partner between Washington coach Chris Petersen and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham: “We get a large bag and we stick in Coach Petersen, Coach Whittingham, and we shake that bag up really high and really hard.”

» On his fishing trip this summer: “My staff and I went fishing up in McCall, Idaho on the Snake River and got a huge 9.5-foot, 350-pound sturgeon, probably 95 years old. Of course, turned him loose so he could pull somebody else’s boat around for a while next time.” Continue reading

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Oregon picked to win Pac-12 title over UCLA in preseason poll

Oregon and UCLA are both overwhelming favorites in their respective divisions, but for the fourth time in five years, the Ducks are the preseason pick to win the Pac-12.

Media members gave Oregon 24 votes to win conference title game at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 5, nearly double the 13 votes UCLA received. Stanford and USC also received one vote each to win the league, though they only combined for three votes to take their respective divisions.

The preseason poll has correctly picked 28 of 53 conference champions, and 11 of the last 14. Continue reading

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UCLA loses three-game series to USC for the first time since 2008

UPDATE: With a 7-4 loss on Saturday, UCLA suffered a sweep to USC for the first time since 2005.

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With two losses to open the weekend, UCLA baseball has dropped a three-game series to USC for the first time since 2008.

The Bruins lost 3-2 on Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, falling to 22-18 on the season and 9-8 in Pac-12 play. They had dropped a 10-0 decision to the Trojans on Thursday, a game that ended a nine-game streak over their crosstown rivals

Riddled by injuries as well as significant losses to the MLB, UCLA looks like an unlikely bet to defend its first-ever national title. Without starting pitchers Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig, the team’s ERA has risen from 2.55 to 3.01 entering this series.

It is also now 7-8 in one-run games after going 17-2 during the 2013 championship run.

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