WESTWOOD—With the Bruin Bear in “hibernation,” the Rose Bowl vacant, and their players safely at home in Westwood, UCLA had one of its best weekends of the season, climbing three spots in the AP poll to #11 in the nation.
Facilitating their ascent were losses by #1 Mississippi State, #7 Arizona State, #9 Auburn, and #11 Nebraska. Though all four losses jump-started the pulse of the Bruins’ once-faint College Football Playoff hopes, the Sun Devil’s 35-27 loss to unranked Oregon State tops the list of weekend victories for a suddenly surging UCLA squad.
Previously the undisputed leader in the PAC-12 South, Saturday’s loss placed Arizona State (8-2, 5-2 PAC-12) in a three-way tie with UCLA and Arizona for second place in the division.
Meanwhile, with a 38-30 home victory over the visiting Cal Bears, 24th-ranked USC (7-3, 6-2) seized a half-game lead in the division.
Last weekend’s PAC-12 action makes Saturday’s approaching match-up between USC and UCLA, the hot topic of debate in Los Angeles, more significant than any in recent memory.
Having already defeated both Arizona State and Arizona, the Bruins can seize sole possession of first place with a victory over the Trojans.
Saturday’s game will pit an ultra-talented USC squad, placed in an unfamiliar underdog position, against a Brett Hundley-led UCLA team hungry to announce themselves to not only the PAC-12, but the nation.
In essence the title game in the PAC-12 South, the teams will kick-off at 5 p.m. (PST) at the Rose Bowl on ABC.
By Joseph Wilhelm