UCLA vs. Oregon: Score, Grades and Analysis

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UCLA vs. Oregon: Score, Grades and Analysis
(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

No. 12 UCLA gave No. 3 Oregon an early scare, but the high-powered Ducks eventually restored order in the second half, rolling to a 42-14 win. 

The Bruins, behind a handful of big plays from their explosive linebacking corps, entered halftime tied at 14 and induced whispers of a BCS landscape-shaking upset. Facing adversity for one of the first times all season, though, the Ducks responded with an assertive second half. 

While the game was close at one point, the box score looked much like the rest of Oregon's games after the final whistle, as the Ducks outgained the Bruins 555 yards to 283. 

Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota completed 21 of 28 throws for 230 yards and one touchdown, while running back Byron Marshall ran for 133 yards and three scores.

Initially, the Bruins showed zero fear on the road. Oregon won the toss and elected to receive, but true freshman Myles Jack forced a Keanon Lowe fumble two plays later and immediately silenced the normally raucous Autzen Zoo.

A heavy dose of running back Paul Perkins on the subsequent drive quickly took UCLA into scoring range, where Brett Hundley would eventually punch it in with a short run.

Oregon would respond, as it tends to do, with a couple of big plays. 

With the Ducks facing 4th-and-14 on their own 26, Mark Helfrich made one of the ballsiest calls you'll ever see in that situation—a fake punt. It worked, as a little bit of misdirection opened up a cavernous hole for Rodney Hardrick to scamper 66 yards. 

De'Anthony Thomas, in his first game since mid-September, punched it in two plays later on a one-yard run.

The electric Thomas had 31 yards on 10 carries but didn't play in the second half. 

Oregon's second big play came in the second quarter when Marshall exploded away from the defense for a 40-yard touchdown run to put the Ducks ahead, 14-7.

Later in the quarter, special teams once again proved crucial, as Jack raced through the line and blocked an Alejandro Maldonado punt, setting up UCLA with excellent field position at Oregon's 28-yard line. Hundley capitalized, finding Thomas Duarte for an 11-yard touchdown reception. 

After Maldonado missed a field goal at the end of the half, the teams entered the locker room tied at 14.

The second half, though, belonged to Oregon. Mariota led four scoring drives (and another one that ended with a fumble at the 5-yard line), and UCLA couldn't do anything on offense, leading to an 28-0 half for the Ducks.

You have to give credit for UCLA for a strong first half, but this was a perfect illustration of how difficult it is to stay with the Ducks for four quarters.

 

Player Grades

Brett Hundley, UCLA: C+

There wasn't much going in the pass game for the Bruins. Hundley completed 68.4 percent of his throws, but it was mostly short stuff as he finished with a mere 64 yards.

He also threw two very untimely interceptions on a couple of bad throws.

However, we can't lower his grade too far. The sophomore QB ran for a first down on several occasions, kept plays alive with his elusiveness and tallied 72 yards on the ground. Because of Hundley, the Bruins were able to convert nine third downs.

 

Marcus Mariota, Oregon: A-

From a statistical perspective, this was one of Mariota's more underwhelming performances of the season. Still, it was exactly the type of game he needed for his Heisman campaign.

Going up against a fast, talented defense, Mariota wasn't able to utilize his debilitating speed as much (18 yards on seven carries). Instead, he had to rely on his arm, and it resulted in an efficient performance.

Again, nothing spectacular, but he moved the ball consistently against a really good defense.

 

UCLA Linebackers: A-

Singling out one would have been unfair to the other three. 

Freshman Myles Jack had a forced fumble and a blocked punt. Anthony Barr had two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Jordan Zumwalt brought a physical presence, making a slew of tackles behind the line of scrimmage and making countless plays in the run game. Eric Kendricks was all over the place too, despite playing through a bunch of injuries.

Oregon still picked up large chunks of yardage (not counting Hardick's run, the Ducks averaged 5.0 yards per carry), but this quartet deserves all kinds of credit for an outstanding all-around performance.

This game was as close as it was because of the plays they made.

 

Byron Marshall, Oregon: A

At times, Marshall had some big holes to work with, so you have to give credit to the offensive line as well.

In addition to bursting through those holes, though, the sophomore gained tough yardage between the tackles and looked very elusive in close spaces. The Bruins had few answers for him.

With Alabama at No. 1, who should be No. 2 in the next BCS poll?

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What's Next

Oregon gets a week off before heading to Palo Alto to take on No. 6 Stanford in one of the biggest games of the college football season on Thursday, Nov. 7.

UCLA, meanwhile, will try to right the ship against Pac-12 bottom-dweller Colorado next Saturday at home.

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