UCLA has been down this road before. The Bruins say they are wiser now.
There is growing belief that UCLA is back in the college football playoff picture. The Bruins were written off by many a month ago, after back-to-back losses to Utah and Oregon. The college football world has spun a few times since, and fans and media are repainting the bandwagon blue and gold.
UCLA needs only to win its last two games to get to the Pac-12 title game. If the Bruins then defeat No. 2 Oregon, they will be very appealing to the selection committee.
It’s a topic players prefer to avoid.
“We have to push that out,” receiver Jordan Payton said. “Everyone is back. A couple of weeks ago, it was quiet, no one was bugging us. Now we’re back in play.”
The Bruins were billed as a national title contender in August and were called underachievers in September before being dumped in the also-ran bin last month.
Now the talk has circled back.
“We can’t believe the hype,” linebacker Myles Jack said. “I guess it’s back. It can all be taken away like it was before.”
UCLA players did keep an eye on Saturday’s Oregon State victory over Arizona State, which put the Bruins back into control of the Pac-12 South Division.
Their reaction to the news of the Beavers’ victory was reserved.
“We understand that it just doesn’t matter unless we keep winning,” Payton said. “For the past four or five weeks, in order to get what we want, we have had to win each week. That hasn’t changed.”
What has is how the Bruins view being back in the discussion.
“We went through the expectations and the hype at the beginning of the season, where everyone wanted us to win by 60,” quarterback Brett Hundley said. “We’ve grown. We learned to play football and not worry about the rankings. We sit in a pretty good position, but it doesn’t matter right now.”
When will it matter?
“All we want is to be in the discussion at the end of the season,” Hundley said.