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UCLA DE Cassius Marsh sacks Houston QB David Piland to spark the Bruins to a 37-6 victory.
It wasn't pretty, but the UCLA Bruins knocked off the Houston Cougars, 37-6, to improve to 3-0 on the season and climb to No. 19 in the AP Poll.
After the Bruins' offense hogged all the headlines in the first two games, the defense stole the show on Saturday, holding the high-powered Houston offense to just six points.
UCLA was pitching a shutout for most of the game until Cougar QB David Piland broke free on a zone read for an 86-yard TD scamper late in the fourth quarter.
But that was Piland's only highlight of the night. The sophomore gunslinger was tasked with the tall order of replacing the living, breathing record book that was Case Keenum, and there have definitely been some growing pains.
UCLA limited Piland to 249 yards passing with no touchdowns and five interceptions. It was like the Bruins' secondary was shagging balls at batting practice led by senior CB Sheldon Price, who tied a school record with three interceptions.
True freshman safety Randall Goforth got in on the action too, recording his first career pick in just his second start.
Unfortunately, the lopsided victory left much to be desired for a UCLA team that has elevated expectations under first-year head coach Jim L. Mora. The Bruins were sloppy on offense, committing five turnovers of their own (two Brett Hundley interceptions and three fumbles), and the penalty bug continued to plague the young team.
Redshirt senior RB Johnathan Franklin came back down to Earth slightly after posting back-to-back 200-yard games to start the year. "Jetski" tallied 110 yards on the ground, which is still good enough to lead the nation in rushing.
Franklin also collected 58 yards through the air, which points to his ability to come out of the backfield and catch passes. The humble senior captain currently sits second on the all-time UCLA rushing list, trailing Gaston Green by 521 yards.
With Oregon State coming to Pasadena this weekend, the Bruins will have a chance to make a statement and get a quick start in conference play. But the Beavs won't go down easy. In fact, OSU will be fresh off a bye week after knocking off then-No.13 Wisconsin in Corvallis, 10-7. Sure, the Badgers were grossly overrated, but that doesn't take away from the Beavers' feat.
If UCLA can handle Oregon State, the Bruins could conceivably find themselves in the Top 15 next week.