Bruins-Ducks: UCLA Makes Fatal Mistakes in 24-10 Loss
After the UCLA Bruins suffered a setback in losing to Stanford in Palo Alto, I was looking forward to their contest with the Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl.
I wanted to see how the UCLA would bounce back, and I was particularly anticipating the Bruins, being at home and with quarterback Kevin Prince returning from injury, turning in a solid performance and taking care of the Ducks.
They didn't even come close:
Oregon 24, UCLA 10.
And the Bruins looked sub-par through much of it.
This was especially the case at the start of the third quarter, as the Bruins had probably the worst four minutes in the history of their program.
First, Kenjon Barner returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, putting Oregon ahead and electrifying their many green and gold clad fans that came from Eugene to cheer for their Ducks.
Next, on UCLA's first play, Prince was intercepted by Talmage Jackson, who ran it back 32 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 Oregon lead.
Then to further the humiliation, Prince fumbled on the next possession. The Ducks wasted little time capitalizing on that as Costa connected with Jeff Maehl for a 20-yard score.
In the span of three minutes and 54 seconds, the Bruins went from a 3-0 lead to a 21-3 deficit.
An angry fan sitting near me described it best when he called those debacles "embarrassing." I'm sure most of the 77,819 fans at the Rose Bowl felt the same way.
Though I didn't say anything to my fellow Bruin fans, I got an uneasy feeling at the start of the game when Prince started off completing just one of his first five passes, showing a lack of zip on his throws while Nate Costa, filling in for Jeremiah Masoli, completed four of his first five passes and filled in quite nicely for Oregon's starter.
It may seem that I'm laying the blame for this defeat solely on Prince's shoulders, but that's not the case, even though he completed just 13 of 25 passes for a anemic 81 yards.
The Bruin offense, especially the offensive line, performed poorly as they only produced three points and rushed for a mere 66 yards.
They failed to score twice in the red zone, including on a first-and-goal situation from Oregon's two-yard line in the first quarter when two runs off tackle and two quarterback sneaks came up empty; clearly a case of predictable play calling as the Ducks were clearly anticipating those runs and sneaks.
Though the disasters wouldn't come until later, the momentum of the game changed at that point.
The defense was disappointing in stopping the run, as LaMichael James rushed for 151 yards on 20 carries, averaging 7.6 yards a pop. That marked the second consecutive game in which a Bruin opponent ran for over 100 yards.
With James performing the way he did, it was-and is-clear that the Ducks don't need LaGarett Blount, who remains suspended for that punch he threw in Boise.
On the plus side, they did hold Oregon's offense to 10 points and scored the Bruins' only touchdown, as Akeem Ayers intercepted a Costa pass in the end zone near the end of that fateful third quarter.
Overall, it was a day that UCLA should best forget.
Their chance for redemption will come next Saturday, as California, led by running back Jarvid Best and reeling from two straight blowouts, comes to the Rose Bowl.
Should UCLA win that game, hopes for a decent season will remain. However...
If they continue their Bad News Bears ways and lose, it will likely signal another long, frustrating year in Westwood.
I truly hope it does not come to that, but...
As always, we will see.
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