Mission Accomplished:  UCLA overcomes 14-point deficit in Tempe and wins on last-second Field Goal, while u$c blows 15-point lead in Tucson, and loses on failed last-second Hail Mary

Looks like Matt Barkley is going to leave his business unfinished…

The trojan QB who blew off an NFL contract to come back and win  a National Championship at u$c — saying he had “unfinsihed business” — is probably regretting his decision right now, as he and his trojans just choked away any chance they possibly had of winding up in the BCS Title Game.  With Saturday’s crushing 39-36 loss to Arizona, troy now has two losses — both in the Pac-12 Conference no less — and will freefall out of the National Rankings’ Top Ten.  Neither of the teams they lost to are currently in the Top 15, and the trojans were favored in both games, but let all their fans, and financial backers, down.

The trojans built a 28-13 lead, as Marquise Lee set a Pac-12 Record with 345 yards Receiving.  Apparently, the Wildcats could not stop ONE GUY.  It reminds me of the game where the Bruins refused to double Keyshawn Johnson and he kept making catch after big catch.  Come on, Arizona, just stop ONE GUY!!!  But no, Lee ran wild all game long.

Arizona could not stop sc, but sc sure could stop themselves.  They choked all day long, with 5 Turnovers and a stunning but predictable 13 penalties for 117 yards.  u$c is the Dirtiest Team in the Country, as the Nation’s Most Penalized Team,  That being said, the Refs in Arizona were NOT just “Homers” — They actually called MORE penalties on the Home Team Wildcats (14 for 129 yards).  So the trojans can’t blame the Officials for their demise.

Down 15 in the Second Half, Arizona strung together 26 straight points, to go up 39-28 with 5:40 left.  Then Lee almost single-handedly made it a game again.  He returned the Kickoff 71 yards, then capped off a 56-second Touchdown drive with a two-point conversion reception.  That made it 39-36 with over 4 minutes to go.  But the way the sc Defense was sucking in the Second Half, it should have been no problem for Arizona to run out the clock.  However, Arizona’s star QB couldn’t play, because TWO DIFFERENT dirty trojans speared him in the head on the same play on the previous drive, giving him a concussion.  So the back-up QB came in, and Arizona was afraid to pass the ball.  They just ran, and ran, and ran, until sc finally put everyone on the line to force a punt with a minute left.

That should have been plenty of time for Barkley to move them into range for a game-tying Field Goal.  But they refused to spike the ball to stop the clock, and then with about 15 seconds left, eschewed a short strike into FG range, instead trying for a Touchdown Bomb.  It failed, leaving sc only 5 seconds left, needing a Hail Mary.  You would think that Lee would be blanketed and harassed so he couldn’t beat them, but the ball actually got to Lee in the End Zone.  He almost grabbed the ball — with ONE HAND — after it hit him and deflected away, but he couldn’t control it, and sc’s season of hopes and dreams came to a bitter end.

They will still probably destroy UCLA in 3 weeks, as Lee and Robert Woods versus the UCLA Secondary is a lopsided mismatch, but even that victory will not even come come to making this a season that any trojan can be proud of.

And speaking of Pride, UCLA is proud today, after becoming Bowl-eligible during October for the first time in many years.  The Bruins are now a surprising 6-2 after escaping Tempe with a dramatic 45-43 roller-coaster victory.  Things started out as weak as possible for UCLA, who actually SCREWED UP THE COIN TOSS!  The Captains were still in the locker room when the Refs flipped the coin, so Jeff Locke, who was practicing his punting and was the only Bruin on the field, had to fill in for the Captains.  He won the toss, but instead of DEFERRING so that the Bruins could get the ball to start the Second Half, he mistakenly said the Bruins choose to Kick Off to start the game, which allowed Arizona State to choose to receive in the Second Half, after already getting to receive in the First Half.  OOOOPPPPS!!!!  That’s like a TURNOVER, losing one possession, before the game even starts!!!!  I guess you have to blame Coach Jim Mora and his staff, for not being out there in time for the toss.

And speaking of early Turnovers, after the Bruin Defense held ASU on the first drive to force a punt, Steven Manfro MUFFED the punt, giving ASU a short field that led directly to the game’s first Touchdown and a 0-7 deficit for the Bruins.  I put this one on Mora too, because Manfro just did the same thing in the last game — foolishly tried to field a booming punt that went over his head.  Last time, Utah recovered it for a TD.  So Mora wanted to show confidence in the Freshman?  Well, that plan backfired, and put the Bruins in a hole.  Maybe Manfro is just not adept at this skill.  During preseason practice, Jordon James kept muffing punts, and he lost the job.  Now Manfro has screwed it up multiple times — It’s time to give the job to someone else.

Soon after that ASU TD, they added another one to take a 14-0 lead.  But the Bruins came back — Something they have almost never done on the Road against a decent team over the last 10 years.  In fact, behind the arm of Brett Hundley and and the legs of Jonathan Franklin, the Bruins outscored the Sun Devils 21-3 to take a 21-17 lead into Halftime.  That last TD — Franklin’s second — came after an ill-fated Safety-avoiding ASU pass that was picked off by Dalton Hilliard in the Red Zone.  Despite the Bruins giving up 43 Points, Hilliard was one of many Bruins to make repeated big plays on Defense.  Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks also came up big, as did Jordan Zumwalt, Tevin McDonald and Andrew Abbott.

In the Second Half, Hundley continued to excel, avoid the rush and find open Receivers.  He found Damian Thigpen twice in the Second Half for scores, after hitting Devin Fuller for 6 Points in the First Half.  He also found Joseph Fauria in the End Zone.  Fauria made a spectacular one-handed grab, fighting off Pass Interference in the process.  Between Hundley’s clutch passing and Franklin’s 164 yards on the ground, UCLA managed to build a 9-point lead with 9 minutes left.  But then the Defense — and Jerry Johnson — failed to hold it.  First the Defense allowed a long drive and a Field Goal, then Johnson dropped an easy pass that sailed right through his arms, leading to a Bruin punt.  ASU took that punt, and drove down the field for a TD, and a 43-42 lead with a minute and a half to go.

ASU and all of Tempe was celebrating wildly, but this is not Kevin Prince’s Bruins — It’s Brett Hundley’s Bruins.  Hundley calmly led his team down the field, doing what Barkley couldn’t do an hour later.  Hundley spiked the ball to stop the clock when it was feasible, and picked up chunks of yards with strikes to Manfro, Thigpen, Evans, and Fauria.  Then, with 11 seconds left, Franklin ran for 7 yards to get in Ka’imi Fairbairn’s extremely limited range, and Fairbairn nailed a 33-yarder straight and true to win the game as time expired.  Now it was the Bruins’ turn to celebrate, as they dogpiled on Fairbairn, ultimately carrying him on their shoulders in triumph.  A “walk-off” victory on the road against a strong team?  It’s hard to believe that I’m talking about UCLA.  And then u$c has a chance to pull off the same accomplishment, and they fail.  The Perfect Storm, indeed.


9 responses to “THE PERFECT (DESERT) STORM”

  1. UclaBruin86 Avatar

    Go bruins

  2. USCSUX Avatar

    Before the season started, I predicted u$c would lose 4 games & everyone thought I was crazy. u$c has compiled a record of 6 & 0 against opponents who have a combined record of 16 & 32. Not one has a winning record. They have lost to 2 teams with a combined record of 11 & 5. Their remaing schedule is against 4 winning teams with a combined record of 27 & 5. Should they get into the conference championship game against Oregon & play in a bowl game against a quality opponent, I may up that prediction to 5 or 6 losses.

  3. JC Avatar

    Everyone, I’m taking friendly wagers! Will Oregon put up at least 50 on sc next week? I’m dead serious.

  4. Jamie Avatar

    I say 50, at least!

  5. Rick Avatar

    Bigger question: Will Arizona put up 50 on UCLA?
    (I.e. Has Matt Scott been cleared to play?)

  6. JC Avatar

    Rick – It appears that the answer to your question is “yes”, but UCLA will just have to score 51.

  7. JC Avatar

    Since UCLA has lost 5 straight to UA, winning will be a huge mountain to climb, and they already fell off of the first mountain they had to climb (winning in Berkeley for the first time since 1998). Another progress marker for them.

  8. Rick Avatar

    Progress would be winning more than one of their next four games. I’m not optimistic about the chances…

  9. JC Avatar

    I guess I was pessimistic about Oregon’s and UCLA’s ability to score!