Coach Jim Mora's UCLA Bruins play the USC Trojans on Saturday at the… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
UCLA is No. 1 in the nation … in yards penalized.
That dubious distinction could be trouble for the Bruins against USC on Saturday, except for one thing. The Trojans are sixth in yards penalized.
The barrage of flags is not overly concerning to UCLA Coach Jim Mora heading into the showdown with USC for the Pac-12 Conference South Division title in the Rose Bowl.
“It’s going to be emotional,” Mora said. “You've got to capture that emotion, because you want to have that emotion but you want to control it. The last thing I want is chippiness on the field. It takes away from the concentration that is necessary to perform a particular play.”
There was some chippiness against Washington State last weekend. UCLA had 126 yards in penalties in a 44-36 victory, including big-ticket items such as pass interference and roughing the passer.
“The penalties that are penalties, we address,” Mora said. “The penalties that we don’t think are penalties, what can you say?”
Asked the ratio of those they thought were penalties to those they did not Saturday, Mora said, “Um, I can’t remember.”
The NCAA Football Bowl Division has 120 teams. UCLA has the most penalty yards, Oregon is third, California fourth, Washington fifth and USC sixth. Toss in Oregon State at 17th, Utah at 21st, Washington State at 24th and Arizona at 30th, and it can seem as if Pac-12 referees get paid by the flag.
Penalties have also slowed at times this season. But in watching game tapes, Mora does not see the potential for chippiness this week, even with a rivalry game.
“I think they play with a lot of class and a lot of spirit as well,” Mora said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue this week. I don’t think it will drop to that level.”
Then again, Pac-12 referees are doing the game.
How will Ben Roethlisberger injury affect the Steelers?
Mike D'Antoni admires Kobe Bryant's intensity, 'good or bad'
Wrestler does not regret tattooing his face with Mitt Romney logo