Stanford QB Andrew Luck overwhelms UCLA, whose two lost fumbles, two missed PAT’s and too many missed tackles allow the Cardinal to win going away, 45-19
It wasn’t nearly as bad as expected. Yeah, the final margin was bigger than the spread, but the Bruins were actually still in striking distance of the #4 Cardinal in the 4th Quarter, even though many people thought the outcome of this game would be decided by Halftime. And if it weren’t for a few self-inflicted wounds, it might have been even closer.
The Bruins started the game by driving the length of the field, only to fail on 4th and Goal from the 1 yard line. The drive was impressive (with balanced play-calling and 3rd down conversions), and going for it on 4th down was REFRESHING. But the playcall — Richard Brehaut carrying the ball into the middle of the line, was depressing.
Stanford subsequently took the ball and drove 99 yards for the game’s first Touchdown. That drive consisted of solid runs and short passes over the middle — as if the Cardinal had actually watched video of the Bruins’ previous games and identified their weaknesses.
Brehaut followed that up by fumbling away the ball on a sack, allowing the Cardinal to score another TD. Soon after that, they scored one more time to make it 17-0, almost halfway to duplicating last year’s 35-0 shellacking at the Rose Bowl. But with two minutes left in the half, The Bruins drove 80 yards, and scored on a tall pass to Tight End Joseph Fauria. The Bruins were thus able to go into Intermission down only 17-7, with momentum on their side.
After Halftime, it took Stanford two plays to regain momentum, the second play being a 51-yard Andrew Luck TD pass, making it 24-7. But the Bruins didn’t quit, coming right back with another Fauria TD reception — on a 4th down. Jeff Locke missed the PAT, but the score was still a respectable 24-13.
Still in the 3rd Quarter, the Bruins forced a Stanford punt, and were about to have the ball at midfield, down by only 11, but Taylor Embree refused to make a fair catch, and lost a fumble. Stanford took it down for a quick score, making it 31-13. The Bruins still didn’t surrender, scoring again on a Josh Smith run. Locke shanked the extra point, but the Bruins were still in contention, at 31-19.
But the UCLA Defense couldn’t contain Luck or the Stanford ground attack, and the Trees cashed in on a failed onside kick, with a short drive to make it 38-19. After a failed desperation drive by the Bruins, Stanford tacked on one more meaningless TD to cover the spread and make the final score 45-19.
In the final box score that the Country will read, it will look like a blowout, but Bruin fans who watched the whole game will know that UCLA COMPETED with the #4 team in the Nation for over 3 quarters, on the road, and that the Bruins should have a chance to win the rest of their games, including next week against Washington State.
Richard Brehaut is no Andrew Luck, who went 23 of 27 for 227 yards and 3 TD’s, but he still had a decent game, making several good throws on 3rd down, finding Fauria twice for TD’s. He also ran effectively a few times. Yes, he fumbled away a big Turnover, and he also missed a handful of open targets, but he still showed improvement, and enough ability to beat teams that aren’t ranked in the National Top Ten.
Meanwhile, the UCLA Defense got carved up by Luck, but so does every other team. UCLA also had about a half-dozen plays where they missed multiple tackles and allowed big runs that shouldn’t have been big runs, and Dietrich Riley got beat on 2 of the 3 TD passes. But Stanford is known to wear Defenses down, and UCLA was missing FOUR key Defensive Backs to injury, so it’s not unreasonable to expect a much better defensive performance next week.
All in all, the Bruins outperformed my projections for this game, and a couple of miscues, including an avoidable fumble by a usually sure-handed player, made a huge difference. So I wouldn’t say that this loss is as depressing as the previous two losses.
A win over 3-1 WSU next week could keep the “dream” alive — That “dream” being a winning season, and a possible bowl berth. Because if you look at the records, you’ll see that ALL THREE teams to whom UCLA has lost, are UNDEFEATED on the season. And San Jose State won today, and Oregon State gave ASU a tough game in Tempe. So maybe the Bruins don’t suck as much as you think they do. Maybe.
The trojans won today, but they gave up 41 points in the contest, so they may remain unranked. And speaking of RANK and trojan, former trojan Basketballer Daniel Hackett made news today, basically promising to injure Kobe Bryant. Kobe is about to sign with an Italian team, in the League in which Hackett plays. Hackett has always been nothing more than a THUG, and he proved it with his statement that the only way to stop Kobe is to foul him as hard as possible. He pretty much THREATENED to knock Kobe out when he faces him, claiming that it would be the best strategy to win the game. Last week I said that T.J. McDonald was the poster child for U$C, after getting flagged for THREE Personal Foul penalties in one game, but T.J. should move over, so Hackett can fit on that poster with him.
Trojans PREACH thuggery, in both sports. “Whatever it takes,” regardless of the rules, or the spirit of the game. And after hearing Hackett’s threats, and McDonald’s gloating after his penalties, I don’t see how anyone could disagree.