UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has received almost all of the attention for UCLA this year but took a bit of a back seat to his teammates on the other side of the ball on Saturday night.
The Bruins defense put together their best effort in a long, long time against BYU to leave Provo with a 17-14 win that was a much more dominant outing than the score line indicated.
The Cougars managed just 0.9 yards per rush, failed to get much of anything going in the passing game and saw quarterback Taysom Hill throw one interception and record four sacks. While there was plenty of issues on the BYU offense, the fact of the matter was that the team from Los Angeles simply had defenders that looked faster, stronger and quicker on just about every snap.
It was a good thing that the defense rose to the occasion for Jim Mora too because the Bruins offense still hasn’t found much of a rhythm this season outside of their quarterback making some NFL-caliber throws. Rosen finished the night 26-of-40 for 307 yards, two scores and a pick but was only able to pick up six third down conversions all game in a bit of a one-man effort.
Nate Starks made his season debut at tailback and rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries as part of a mediocre ground game against a tough BYU front seven. The team’s leading rusher, Soso Jamabo, did not even suit up for UCLA while backup Bolu Olorunfunmi chipped in with 15 yards in limited action.
The win rounds out the non-conference slate for the Bruins and sets up a big showdown next Saturday at the Rose Bowl with defending conference champion Stanford. The Cardinal have been the one team that Mora has not been able to solve since arriving in Westwood but if the defense plays like it did against BYU, it could be an interesting Pac-12 contest between the two division favorites.
On a weekend full of incredible college football games, one of the most interesting intersectional matchups involved Pac-12 South favorite UCLA heading into the heart of SEC territory to take on Texas A&M.
In what was a fairly even first half by both teams, the Aggies took a narrow 10-9 lead heading into the locker room but will be looking to make some adjustments after a slow start offensively. The Bruins have their own issues to address after coming away with just two field goals on two trips inside the A&M 10 yard line.
Quarterback Trevor Knight did advance the ball with both his arm and his legs during his first start for A&M after transferring over from Oklahoma. He ended the first half 14-of-21 for an even 100 yards while scrambling for another 13 on the ground. His favorite target in the passing game was not surprisingly Christian Kirk, who posted seven catches for 45 yards.
Keith Ford scored the first half’s only touchdown but it was teammate Trayveon Williams who led the Aggies in rushing with 61 yards on five carries.
A few days after riling up the 12th Man with comments about the potential crowd noise at Kyle Field, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was 11-of-19 passing for 131 yards. He also tossed an inexplicable interception early in the game when he attempted to throw the ball away while being dragged down, but the ball ended up being lofted into the hands of Daeshon Hall. Rosen did make some NFL-caliber throws against an active A&M defense but not enough to give the Bruins the lead at halftime.
Tailback Soso Jamabo also chipped in with 53 yards rushing for UCLA.
In a position battle NFL scouts no doubt had a close eye on, Bruins left tackle Connor McDermott did a solid job on potential No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett but the rest of the line was up and down against a fast John Chavis defense.
Regardless of whether UCLA goes on to finish the job and put away Cal, the Bruins may have suffered a loss on the night.
Midway the second quarter of its game with Cal, and on the third of what would be four drives that ended in Ka’imi Fairbairn field goals, Paul Perkins sustained what looked to be a rather significant injury to his left knee. The running back limped off the field and didn’t return, instead being shown by the television cameras riding an exercise bike while discussing his situation with UCLA medical personnel.
His return for the second half was up in the air heading into halftime with a 26-10 lead; coming out of the half, Jim Mora removed all of the mystery as head coach Jim Mora ruled him out for the remainder of the contest.
Perkins, who had 73 yards on 11 carries prior to the injury, came into the game leading the Bruins in rushing with 681 yards rushing and eight rushing touchdowns. Last season, his 1,575 yards were tops in the Pac-12 and 15th nationally.
With Perkins out, and with the lead at 33-10 just a handful of minutes into the second half, the Bruins will likely look to Soso Jamabo (199 yards coming in) and Bolu Olorunfunmi (160) to control the ball and help run some time off the clock.
Or, seeing that Josh Rosen is already over 300 yards one possession into the third quarter, they can just let the true freshman keep doing what he’s been doing and pile on the Bears..
It looked like we were going to have a duel in the desert among two College Football Playoff worthy teams… for about half a quarter. No. 9 UCLA blew past an overmatched No. 16 Arizona team 56-30 in Tucson on Saturday night. The win, coupled with what’s happened in Eugene Saturday night, establishes UCLA as a clear top-echelon team in the always hyper-competitive Pac-12 South race.
The Bruins put this one out of reach in the first half. After Arizona opened the scoring with a 34-yard pass from Anu Solomon to Nate Phillips, UCLA ripped off four unanswered touchdowns and scored on six of its first seven possessions to grab a 42-14 halftime lead. Solomon left the game with a head injury in the second quarter and Scooby Wright played through obvious rust and lack of conditioning after missing three weeks with a knee injury, leaving Arizona simply unable to compete with a supremely talented Bruins squad.
UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley mercilessly sat on Arizona’s passing game, holding Solomon to just 3-of-9 for 21 yards aside from his touchdown strike and his replacement Jerrard Randall to 4-of-16 for 45 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Wildcats ran, uh, wild on the Bruins’ front, pounding out 353 yards and two scores on 59 carries, but it wasn’t enough to play catch-up with a UCLA offense clicking on every one of its cylinders.
Josh Rosen successfully bounced back from his first rough start by nailing 19-of-29 throws for 284 yards and two touchdowns (plus one on the ground), and running backs Paul Perkins, Soso Jamabo and Nate Starks combined to carry 38 times for 209 yards and five touchdowns. Jordan Payton added seven grabs for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Thomas Duarte hauled in four catches for 65 yards and a score.
The win pushes UCLA to 4-0 (1-0 Pac-12) with Arizona State heading to the Rose Bowl next week. Arizona (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) must regroup quickly, as a trip to No. 21 Stanford waits next Saturday.