UCLA scored a late touchdown in the first half to cut the Nebraska’s halftime lead from 21-3 down to 21-10. After a sluggish start, that touchdown allowed the Bruins to get to halftime with a little less pressure on them. UCLA also made the adjustments. The Bruins outscored the Huskers 28-0 in the third quarter and made it look as easy as that number would indicate. From there, the Bruins were set to score a bit of a statement with a 41-21 win at Nebraska.
UCLA was dominant after digging an early hole, perhaps a result of flying east to play an early game when the bodies were still on west coast time. As well as UCLA played, Nebraska played just as poorly. Quarterback Brett Hundley got off to a rough start but ended his day completing 16 of 24 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 61 yard on the ground and running back Jordan James led the Bruins with 105 rushing yards and a touchdown. The defense also cranked it up in the second half, limiting Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah to 98 yards and not allowing a rushing touchdown. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had a solid first half with three touchdown passes but he and the entire Huskers offense stalled in the second half. Nebraska had to punt four times, lost a fumble and turned the football over on downs in the second half. Nebraska managed to put together just 140 yards of offense in the second half, 69 of which came on the lone promising possession that ended with a lost fumble. UCLA had over 200 yards of offense in the third quarter alone.
You can say a lot about UCLA’s ability to dig deep and gut this win after the week the team combined with having to play an early game on the road. But looking at the big picture for the Bruins, this could just be the next building block to emerging as a top threat out of the Pac 12.
Does this make UCLA the team to beat in the Pac 12? Not yet, but this is a pretty significant performance that could make them he obvious team to beat in the Pac 12 South. UCLA has played in the Pac 12 Championship Game each of the first two years it has existed and they could very well be on their way to a third trip. UCLA’s schedule is going to be challenging moving forward. Back-to-back games on the road in mid-October at Stanford and Oregon should not be wished on anyone, but UCLA has shown they can go on the road and compete in a big game and they are only improving.
Nebraska will get a chance to regroup a little bit next week with one more home game before hitting the bye week. South Dakota State will visit Lincoln next week, which would normally be penciled down as an automatic win. Unfortunately for Nebraska, South Dakota State entered this weekend ranked sixth in the FCS rankings, so the match-up may not be quite the pushover contest we typically expect when a power program takes on an FCS squad. Given the track record of some of the ranked FCS teams this month, who knows?