LOS ANGELES -- All of a sudden, the UCLA Bruins have become road warriors.
UCLA has risen to No. 25 in the nation thanks in large part to a pair of dominating road performances this season. The Bruins (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) defeated Colorado, 42-14, Saturday in Boulder, Colo., adding another resounding road victory to the 49-24 drubbing of Rice in the season opener.
Certainly, you can chalk it up to poor quality of opponents, but this is still the first time since 2005 that UCLA has won its first two road games in a season and only the second time since 1991 that the Bruins have won two road games by 25 or more points in the same season.
“The key I believe is our players have just focused on the game, not the environment, not the plane trip, not the hotel,” coach Jim Mora said. “We have a routine whether we’re at home or on the road that starts Friday morning and we just stick to it.”
The routine over the last few seasons was to lose road games. UCLA was 8-27 on the road the last six seasons and some of the most embarrassing losses in school history took place during that stretch. Last season’s 50-0 loss at USC, a 60-13 loss at Oregon in 2010, a 59-0 loss at Brigham Young in 2008 and a 44-6 loss at Utah in 2007 come to mind.
But this season, the Bruins have turned those tables and have already matched the number of road wins they had in 2011 and 2010 combined.
“It’s a team thing,” quarterback Brett Hundely said. “It’s a business trip and it’s a mindset. You just have to go and know that you’re not in familiar territory. You just have to go and take it as it’s us against them. We’re traveling with our group and we’re going into their territory and we just have to come out with a win.”
Hundley, a redshirt freshman, was thrown into the fire immediately when he made his first career start at Rice. It didn’t seem to faze him much as he ran 72 yards of ran touchdown on his first snap.
“I always felt comfortable on the road,” Hundley said. “I always felt excited to go on the road and experience different places. Colorado was cool, it was loud. And just to hear about all these other atmospheres that there are to play in, it’s pretty exciting. It’s always nice to be home, but it’s always exciting to go on the road.”
The last time UCLA won two road games by 25 or more points was in 2007 when the Bruins defeated Stanford, 45-17, and Oregon State, 40-14. The 28-point win at Colorado Saturday tied for the second largest margin of victory in a road game over the last 10 seasons, trailing only a 43-7 victory at Washington State in 2009.
Extending the road win streak to three games, a feat last accomplished in 2005, will not be easy. UCLA plays at California on Saturday and the Bruins haven’t won in Berkeley since 1998. Mora said his team must continue to show the same focus and maturity it has during road trips so far.
“Our players have been mature enough to avoid the distractions that could potentially be there for them and I credit them for that,” Mora said. “It’s been really impressive, but we need to continue doing that because we’ve still got some road games to go.”