UCLA Football: Bruins Bounce Back, Beat Buffaloes in Boulder
After suffering its first loss of the Jim Mora era last week, the UCLA football team hit the road and took care of business, knocking off Colorado with ease, 42-14.
The bounce-back victory was huge for the Bruins, who have had a knack for caving at the first sign of adversity in recent years. With the win, UCLA improved to 4-1 on the season, secured an ever-elusive conference road triumph and sneaked back into the AP poll at No. 25.
Coming into the matchup with the Buffs, there were plenty of questions about the young Bruins' resilience, but they answered the call and then some.
Led by QB Brett Hundley and RB Johnathan Franklin, UCLA torched Colorado for 492 yards of total offense, including 281 yards passing from Hundley and 111 yards rushing from Franklin. As a team, the Bruins found pay dirt six times, four times on the ground and twice through the air.
Hundley accounted for four of those scores, tossing two beautiful TDs to Darius Bell and big Joe Fauria, as well as rushing for two more. The second time he called his own number was on a zone-read that fooled just about everyone at Folsom Field and reminded us all why Rick Neuheisel recruited Hundley to run his Pistol offense in the first place.
And while the Pistol is no longer the weapon in Westwood, the Bruins came out in this one with guns blazing on both sides of the ball.
While the offense was moving at will, the defense was piling up some impressive stats of its own. The Bruin defenders were the definition of stout, holding the Buffs to 83 yards rushing on 30 attempts and forcing two turnovers.
The UCLA front seven was unstoppable, pressuring the Colorado quarterbacks all night long and tallying three sacks and countless hurry-ups. The Bruins were particularly tough on third down, as the Buffaloes converted only 2-of-15 in the game and were forced to punt 10 times.
But it wasn't all good news for the Bruins in Boulder. The secondary, which was supposed to be a strength for UCLA in 2012, allowed 226 yards passing and two TDs (though the second score came in garbage time against a unit of second-stringers).
The veteran group of defensive backs will need to perform better, especially considering they have yet to face the likes of conference signal callers Matt Scott and Matt Barkley, who will have monster games against the Bruins' porous down-field coverage.
Other areas of concern for UCLA are third-down efficiency and penalties, both of which have hampered the Bruins' efforts all year. Against Colorado's not-so-scary defense, UCLA was held under 50 percent on third-down attempts (7-15), which doesn't bode well for match-ups against Utah, USC and Stanford yet to come.
But if the Bruins can clean up the flags, lock down the secondary and perform better on crucial third-downs, UCLA will have a strong season, winning eight or nine games and getting to a respectable bowl. Not bad for a team with a new coach, a freshman quarterback, and an O-line with three first-year starters.
Looking ahead, UCLA will need to ride the momentum from this win into next weekend's showdown with a reeling California squad. While the Bruins will likely be favored against the Golden Bears, they better watch out: UCLA hasn't won in Berkeley since 1998 and Cal (1-4) will be hungry for a win in front of their home crowd.
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