UCLA kept its raucous celebration in the locker room, with only a few tweeted photos providing any evidence. By the time the Bruins emerged from their Rose Bowl party following their 36-30 victory over Nebraska on Saturday night, they were all business again, insisting it was just another victory.
“It’s only one more win, that’s it,” defensive end Datone Jones said.
It sure felt like more than that after a long-struggling program defeated a perennial college football power.
With a new coaching staff, an exciting freshman quarterback and what certainly seems to be a novel attitude toward success, these Bruins are off to a strong start in the lengthy task of fixing 15 years of mostly mediocre football at UCLA.
The Bruins (2-0) cracked the AP poll at No. 22 on Sunday, earning their first ranking in more than four years. They began preparations Sunday for a Rose Bowl visit from Houston (0-2), the Bruins’ first home game as a ranked team in a half-decade.
Jim Mora might be a college coaching newcomer, but he kept a studious, professional approach to an enormous win in his Rose Bowl debut. Mora declined to address the crowd postgame, as his predecessor Rick Neuheisel sometimes did, and thoroughly downplayed the victory afterward while still praising his team for its poise and calm, particularly in its fourth-quarter rally.
“When you get in an environment like this, it’s intense,” Mora said. “You’re playing a great opponent, and you’ve got a big crowd, and the lights come on, and you can become overwhelmed. You didn’t see that with these guys. I’m very proud of them.”
The Bruins are ranked for the first time since Sept. 2, 2008, when they entered the poll at No. 23 after an overtime victory at Tennessee in UCLA’s debut under Neuheisel.
Hogs take big fall
Arkansas has taken the second-largest fall out of the AP college football poll, dropping from eighth to unranked after losing to Louisiana-Monroe.
The Razorbacks were upset 34-31 in overtime after losing quarterback Tyler Wilson to an injury. The only team to take a more drastic fall from the poll was Michigan in 2007. The Wolverines opened the season at No. 5 and dropped out after a Week 1 loss to Appalachian State.
Alabama remains No. 1. Southern California is No. 2, followed by LSU and Oregon. Florida State moved into a tie for fifth with Oklahoma. Georgia is No. 7.
Arkansas was one of four teams to drop out after losses, along with Nebraska, Wisconsin and Oklahoma State.
Moving in were UCLA, Tennessee, Arizona and BYU.
Tulane player has surgery
Tulane football player Devon Walker’s fractured spine was stabilized in a three-hour surgery Sunday, though it’s too soon to tell whether he will be paralyzed from the injury he suffered while making a tackle, the team’s doctor said.
Dr. Greg Stewart, Tulane University’s director of sports medicine, said Walker was in stable condition and was expected to stay in the intensive care until of St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa for the next few days.
“These kind of injuries take 24, 48, sometimes 72 hours to fully declare themselves,” Stewart said before the surgery. “We don’t know what the long-term implications and outcomes are going to be.”