Heading into last week's game at Arizona, much of the talk surrounding the UCLA football program was about how the Bruins could get into the thick of the conference title race with a victory.
The Bruins are, mathematically, still in the hunt, just don't expect to hear any talk about it on the practice field this week. Coach Rick Neuheisel insinuated the Bruins were caught looking past Arizona on Thursday when the Wildcats thumped UCLA, 48-12.
"I don’t think we talk about the race," Neuheisel said. "I think maybe too much was made of the race."
If the Bruins win out, they would finish 7-2 in the Pac-12 South and hold head-to-head victories over Arizona State and USC, the two teams ahead of UCLA in the South division standings. The key to finishing strong will be to bounce back from such a devastating defeat by learning from mistakes, but erasing any lingering doubts such a loss may have planted.
"You have to discard he emotional setback that that game can give you because it’s baggage," Neuheisel said. "It doesn’t help you go forward. It needs to be instead churned into fuel that can help energize you for the next contest. That’s exactly where we have to be. We have to get energized. We’ve been through tough losses here before and we’ve responded and we need to respond again."
And Neuheisel's plan to do that is the old coaching cliche: One game at a time.
"I think we just talk about playing a great football game, doing all the things that great football teams deserve in terms of your execution, your assignments, your focus, your intensity and all that stuff and let’s go out and play it," he said. "Let the fur fly, as they say, and see exactly where that leaves us."