The first Bowl Championship Series standings, announced Sunday, could have been a big moment for UCLA players -- except for that 24-10 loss to Stanford on Saturday.
UCLA was 12th in the BCS standings. Stanford was sixth. That might have been reversed had the Bruins won.
"We were 12th? OK," linebacker Anthony Barr said Monday.
Said receiver Jordan Payton: "I get notifications on my phone. I looked at it, saw 12th, not bad."
Said quarterback Brett Hundley: "All I know is that a lot of top 10-teams lost last week."
Five, to be exact, and UCLA was one of them. The Bruins had been ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll before the Stanford game.
So one view was that the Bruins could celebrate being No. 12 in the BCS standings. It's the highest they have been since 2005, when they were No. 5 in late October and finished 16th.
But the Bruins have lofty aspirations. "I would definitely be lying to you if I said I didn't want to play in the national title game," Payton said. "That's in our sights."
Getting there will now require some help. Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, Missouri, Miami and Texas Tech are undefeated and in the BCS top 10.
Beating Oregon this week would be a start. The Ducks are third in the BCS standings.
"We've got to win out," Hundley said. "We win out, play in the Pac-12 championship game, that will show a lot. We would rather be in control of our own destiny, but sometimes you win out and still have to hope and pray."
UCLA was the No. 1 team in the first BCS standings in 1998. The Bruins were as high as third in 2001.
UCLA isn't likely to shut out Oregon, which is second in the nation in scoring. But the Bruins hope to play keep-away by keeping their own offense on the field and sustaining scoring drives.
"I have a feeling, and believe, that our defense is really ready for this game," Hundley said. However, he also acknowledged, "We expect that every time we touch the ball, we've got to score."
UCLA's offense had an uneven game in a 37-10 victory over California on Oct. 12 and was shut down against Stanford. The Bruins have lacked a running game the last two weeks, and penalties upset the rhythm.
The Cardinal had the ball for 37 minutes. If Oregon has the ball for 37 minutes, scoring records are going to fall. The last team to score 100 points in a Division I (now Football Bowl Subdivision) game was Houston in 1968, when it routed Tulsa, 100-6.
Oregon ranks 116th out of 123 FBS teams in time of possession. Yet the Ducks average 57.6 points per game.
"We've got to help the defense out," Payton said. "What Coach [Jim] Mora wants is first downs. Third and five, move the chains. We don't necessarily need the big play. We need to march down the field, score, and give our defense a break. Let them come back and play some real football."
UCLA will play Colorado at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 in a game to be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
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