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Eric Vander Voort | | September 28, 2014

UCLA moves up three spots, returns to top 10

  UCLA's three-spot jump is tied for the biggest this week among teams ranked in the previous poll.

The most highly anticipated game of last week may have come on Thursday, but it was still fresh in voters’ minds in the latest edition of The Associated Press Top 25. UCLA returned to the top 10 following its 62-27 thrashing of Arizona State three days prior. The Bruins moved up from No. 11 to No. 8, tied for the biggest positive move of teams ranked last week. They jumped Notre Dame, Michigan State and Mississippi.

Complete Poll
UCLA’s performance on Thursday was a far cry from its start of the season, when three of its four touchdowns were provided by the defense in a 28-20 win at Virginia. In fact, the Bruins won their first three games by a combined 18 points, all against unranked teams. Questions came the Bruins’ way, which resulted in a bit of a slide in the poll, but they answered a lot those questions emphatically with 580 offensive yards in a statement win at the then-No. 15 Sun Devils, who dropped out of the poll entirely.

Brett Hundley returned from an arm injury to throw for 355 yards and four touchdowns on 18 of 23 passing. The four touchdowns matched a career best, and it was the seventh time in his career that he eclipsed 300 yards. Hundley also ran the ball eight times for 72 yards, an average of 9.0 yards per carry, scoring one touchdown on the ground. He moved into second place on the school list for career rush yards by a quarterback, and is just 38 yards behind Gary Beban for the top spot.

The high-powered offense was helped by big plays. Running back Paul Perkins recorded the second 100-plus rushing game of his career, totaling 137 yards including an 81-yard run. Jordan Payton caught five passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

The offense may have found its groove on Thursday, but questions will remain about the defense. Even in the losing effort, Arizona State racked up 626 yards, 488 of which came through the air. What saved the Bruins from a closer game were the Sun Devils’ four turnovers, including a 95-yard interception return at the end of the second quarter by Ishmael Adams.

The win at Arizona State was UCLA’s sixth consecutive road win dating back to last season, the Bruins’ longest such streak since 1997-98. After playing three of its first four games on the road, the Bruins will now return to the Rose Bowl for two games. Next weekend, Utah visits Los Angeles, having just suffered a heartbreaking loss to Washington State. The Utes held a 21-0 lead before eventually falling 28-27. If UCLA can get by that game unscathed, it sets up a potential huge top-10 matchup the following week, when No. 2 Oregon visits. The Bruins have not beaten the Ducks since 2007, and the past three matchups have been in Oregon’s favor by an average of 31 points.

Notes from the rest of the Top 25:
The top seven remained the same for the second consecutive week. ... Six games next week will feature two ranked teams, including three in the Southeastern Conference. ... Florida State lost seven first-place votes after its scare against NC State. ... Oklahoma State moved up three spots to No. 21. ... Missouri and TCU entered the poll at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively.

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