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UCLA, USC are seeing lots of flags

Bruins are the third-most penalized team in the nation and the Trojans are sixth. Half of major college football's most penalized teams are from the Pac-12 Conference.

October 10, 2012|From staff reporters

Looking at NCAA statistics, you might think Pac-12 Conference officials got paid by the penalty.

Half of major college football's most penalized teams are from the Pac-12, with UCLA and USC in the top — or should that be the bottom? — six.

UCLA is the third-most penalized team in the nation, averaging 86.50 yards in losses and 8.83 infractions per game. USC is sixth, with averages of 80.0 and 10.0.

Oregon State trails only Louisiana Tech in penalties, and California and Utah are also in the top 10. And even beyond that, Oregon is No. 14 and Washington State is No. 15.

The local teams stayed in character last week. UCLA was penalized for 99 yards in a 43-17 loss to Cal on Saturday. Two days earlier, USC won at Utah despite 14 penalties for 100 yards, due in part to 13 infractions for losses of 122 yards by the Utes.

So, are these teams just going Wild West on everyone?

UCLA said not all penalties could be attributed to a lack of discipline.

"Some of them the other day can certainly be seen as a lack of focus, " Coach Jim Mora said. But others, he added, were "a function of a good player that got one on you so you react and grab and hold."

There is no distinction, though, in consequences.

A holding call wiped out a 20-yard pass completion to running back Johnathan Franklin with UCLA trailing Cal, 29-17, with eight minutes left. Instead of a first and goal at the eight-yard line with a chance to cut the deficit to five points, the Bruins were backed up to the 38.

Two plays later, quarterback Brett Hundley had a pass intercepted, dousing any comeback thoughts.

At USC, Coach Lane Kiffin has been saying all season that the team's penalty problems would be fixed.

And he's still saying it: "We've taken guys out for penalties during games when it happens. We've continued to try a bunch of stuff. It'll get fixed. ... We know what we're doing and we're just not doing it real well right now. So it will get fixed."

Oregon State has proven that taking penalties doesn't mean taking losses. The Beavers are averaging 9.0 infractions for losses of 89.75 yards per game, but they have a record of 4-0.

Probably safer to do it the Kansas State way, though. Coach Bill Snyder's undefeated and No. 6-ranked team has numbers of nine and 71 — but those are totals for its five games.

Staff writers Chris Foster, Gary Klein and Mike Hiserman contributed to this report.

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