LOS ANGELES — For UCLA football, each week keeps getting bigger and bigger.
In its last two games, the 14th-ranked Bruins have proved they can handle high-powered offenses and keep teams at bay when late pushes are made. Last Friday, offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone threw the kitchen sink at the Huskies, so to speak, and even with limited running back depth and Myles Jack playing close to every down of the game, the Bruins commanded the game from the kickoff.
But this week, it’s an all-or-nothing contest against No. 17 Arizona State. Win, and they’re one victory away from a third-straight Pac-12 South Championship. Lose, and the Sun Devils clinch the South. The fanfare surrounding the final game of the season at rival USC would then feel somewhat anticlimactic.
Unlike last month when the season seemed to be slipping away, the Bruins firmly control their own fate.
But so do the Sun Devils.
“That’s all we ask for — just an opportunity to control what we’re doing,” said quarterback Brett Hundley. “Right now, we’re holding that position of controlling our own destiny to get to where we want to be, which is the Pac-12 Championship Game and play, hopefully, for a BCS Bowl.”
It didn’t take long for the Bruins to move on from Friday’s win. Head coach Jim Mora acknowledged the Sun Devils’ visit in his opening remarks. Last year, the Bruins effectively executed a two-minute drive that resulted in Ka’imi Fairbairn kicking the game-winning field goal. It was an exciting moment for a team that at the time, was still up-and-coming.
“Two minute drives, to me, are sort of fun. Because as a quarterback, that’s the best moment of the game even though the pressure is all on you to get down the field and lead the team,” Hundley said. “It’s fun, it was fun to look back on it and pull up the film, it would be pretty cool to see the last drive again.
“But that was last year. And this year is a whole new day, a whole new time to get out there and have some fun.”
Now, the Bruins have arrived. And they would like to stay there.
“We’ve just got to keep winning games,” Hundley said. “This is a new week, new opportunity, Washington is in the past and we’re on to ASU. It’s going to be a fun game, a big one again, but these next two games are going to be pretty fun.”
She said yes The TV cameras stuck around the Rose Bowl long enough to capture one of the biggest moments in senior safety Stan McKay’s life when he proposed to his girlfriend Chelcey on the field after the game.
His teammates mobbed the couple following her response, but if there was ever a doubt in anyone’s mind that she would say no, it wasn’t McKay’s.
“She was kind of hinting at it the last couple months,” McKay said. “She kept asking me. She kept posting wedding pictures and rings and dresses all over her Pinterest and her Instagram.”
McKay, known as the over-the-top, hopeless romantic on the team, began planning the proposal out about six weeks ago with Mora. The coach was seen in the video giving his thumbs up approval to her response.
However, she caught on when he escorted her the tunnel after the game and was suddenly embarrassed and nervous for such a public display of affection.
“She’s like, ‘I hate you, why would you do this?'” McKay said. “She wanted it to be more private. I said nah, it’s got to be big.”
The couple did face some backlash over the weekend after the video made its way to YouTube. McKay and his now-fiance are interracial and some of the comments were not in favor of the union.
“It was kind of shocking to see the things that were said over the weekend,” McKay said. “There were a lot of racist comments made toward her… It was eye-opening to see that people still feel that way.”
McKay assures it has not deterred them. He has already asked teammate Isaiah Bowens to sing at the nuptial and though a date has not yet been set, according to her, it will be soon.
“She told me when we got home, ‘I’m not really the type of person to stay engaged long,'” McKay said. “So I guess the wedding will be soon.”