Defensive back Ishmael Adams skipped into the UCLA locker room, screaming to anyone who cared to listen: “SC baby, SC.”
The Bruins have an extra week to rev up for USC. They earned this week off by handling Washington, 44-30, at Husky Stadium on Saturday. Up next, USC, in the Rose Bowl on Nov. 22. Still on the table, the Pac-12 South Division title.
“We’re hitting on all cylinders,” receiver Jordan Payton said. “Your best football is supposed to be in November. We’re scary when we’re hitting on cylinders.”
The No. 18 Bruins (8-2 overall, 5-2 in Pac-12) have refused to do things the easy way this season, winning five of their games by a total of 23 points. They meandered when they were supposed to romp. They lost at home. They appeared determined to keep referees sharp by offering plenty of flag-throwing opportunities.
That, though, was in the past, at least for one night. UCLA won its ninth consecutive game away from the Rose Bowl and now gets an extra week to rest on this laurel and prepare for USC.
Brett Hundley threw for 302 yards. He tossed two touchdown passes and ran for two more, while directing an efficient offense. The defense was effective-adjacent, with a solid first half and a second half where they kept the Huskies (6-4, 2-4) at arm’s length.
Things were going so well, the Bruins did not have one penalty in the first half after rolling up more than 100 yards in their last two games.
“Someone alerted to me that and I almost passed out,” Coach Jim Mora said. “I just told them to own it. It was time for that to go away.”
The Bruins finished with 37 yards in penalties, but it was hardly noticed during a game where so much was going right.
“That was probably as complete a game we have played from start to finish this year,” Mora said. “That has to be the focus, to continue to build consistency.”
The timing was right with USC approaching.
“My mind isn’t there yet,” Mora said.
Others were way ahead of him.
“Thank God we got a bye and can get some rest,” Hundley said. “This will be a serious game.”
Hundley played a serious game in preparation. He completed 29 of 36 passes .
“He was the Brett everyone wants to see,” receiver Thomas Duarte said. “Tonight it was on display.”
Things were pretty much settled by halftime.
Things were so bad for the Huskies that the Washington band played the national anthem for a second time at halftime, possibly hoping referees would give the team a do-over. It didn’t work, and the Huskies lost the fourth time in six games.
By halftime, the Bruins were cruising toward their bye week.
UCLA’s offense had what might have been its best half of the season. Hundley completed 19 of 25 passes for 214 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Walker III.
The most impressive play came from a cameo at running back by linebacker Myles Jack. He swept left through a big hole, spun out of a tackle and danced along the sideline on a 28-yard touchdown run.
The Huskies feigned interest, getting to within 14-10 on a six-yard run by quarterback Cyler Miles at the start of the second quarter. It was a mirage. UCLA scored on its last three possessions of the half to take a 31-10 lead into the locker room.
Washington never got closer than 14 points in the second half. The Bruins’ defense bent a little, but gave up only 366 total yards.
“We ran the ball, we threw the ball, we had some fun,” Hundley said. “To put together a game like this goes with what we’re trying to do: finish strong.”
A strong finish could land the Bruins in the Pac-12 title game. They started the day one of four teams with two losses in the South Division. All were chasing No. 9 Arizona State, which pulled off a significant nonconference victory over No. 10 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Arizona State has Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona remaining on its schedule. UCLA closes the regular season at home against Stanford on Nov. 28.
But first comes USC.
“We’re ready,” Payton said. “We’re ready.”