PALO ALTO—Los Angeles fans woke up this morning feeling nauseous: the Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated by the New York Mets in the NLDS playoffs and the UCLA Bruins were trounced up north by Stanford, 56-35. The Bruins are reeling. Besides losing consecutive games to PAC-12 opponents, UCLA has been knocked out of the top 25.
UCLA faced Stanford in Palo Alto on a special Thursday night game that was broadcast on ESPN. The Cardinal has won 8 straight over UCLA, including a devastating blowout win last year on Black Friday that cost the Bruins a spot in the PAC-12 Championship game.
Everything went wrong from the kickoff. Bruins Quarterback Josh Rosen threw a pick six on the opening drive, putting Stanford up 7-0. From there, Stanford relied on star RB Christian McCaffrey, his record breaking night set a school-record 243 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
The beefy Stanford offensive line dominated UCLA, creating gaping holes you could drive a truck through. He scored on a 70-yard run out of the wildcat, returned a kick 96 yards to set up another score and ran for three more touchdowns in a virtuoso performance.
What happened to the Bruins defense? Injuries, for one. Eddie Vanderdoes is out for the season, while All-American linebacker Myles Jack has left UCLA, and declared for the NFL draft after sustaining a significant knee injury during practice this season. However, that is no excuse for poor tackling, a secondary that is unable to cover anybody or generate turnovers.
Stanford rolled up 441 yards and had 56 points on the scoreboard before the third quarter had ended. It was the most points given up by the Bruins since 2010, when Oregon poured 60 on us.
UCLA (4-2 overall, 1-2 in Pac-12 play), kept it interesting in the first half. Rosen threw a dart down the middle to WR Darren Andrews, who caught the pass and took it to the house untouched. The Bruins ended the first half on a high note, giving the Bruin faithful a glimmer of hope. An 11 play, 80 yard drive culminating in a TD, cutting the deficit to, 35-17.
The Bruins rolled up 506 total yards, with freshman quarterback Josh Rosen completing 22 of 42 passes for 325 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, and Paul Perkins rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries. UCLA dropped several passes and was penalized 10 times for 93 yards.
The play of the night, maybe the season, was the outstanding touchdown reception by Cardinal receiver Francis Owusu. The play will live on as one of the great catches in college football history. It sent social media on fire, and will be seen for decades on highlight reels.
Stanford Quarterback Kevin Hogan hurled the pigskin 44 yards downfield, where UCLA Defensive Back Jaleel Wadood was smothering the Stanford receiver. Owusu magnificently pinned the football to Wadood’s back and maintained possession as both fell in the end zone.
Coach Jim Mora deflected questions surrounding the Bruins inability to beat the elite PAC-12 schools. “The only people who harp on the past, really, are fans and media because it is something to talk about, because it is there and you can’t deny it,” said Mora.
The Bruins will meet the University of California next Thursday at the Rose Bowl. The matchup versus the Golden Bears always proves to be a dramatic, heart pounding treat for the fans.
By Christopher Floch