Bruin Nation can talk about the interception that Brett Hundley threw to Arizona State defensive lineman Carl Bradford, who ran it 18 yards for a touchdown to open the second quarter.
They can also talk about the two missed field goals by Ka’imi Fairbairn in the second and fourth quarters.
And the 19-yard touchdown pass from Sun Devil quarterback Taylor kelly to Jaelen Strong with five seconds left before halftime, that seemingly buried UCLA as they were put in an ultimately insurmountable 35-13 hole.
They can also talk about the heart that Jim Mora’s band of Bruins showed in the second half, outscoring ASU 20-7 and putting a scare in the over 20,000 Sun Devil fans that made the trip from Tempe, whose noise and energy that they put out were extremely important to their team on Saturday night.
But what it all comes down to is this…
A senior-laden defensive line, chock full of players who will go in the early rounds of the 2014 NFL draft if not the first round, which is what Arizona State has, will beat a freshman-laden offensive line, which is what UCLA has, every single time.
That was exactly what happened in the Rose Bowl on Saturday as Bradford, Will Sutton, and the rest of the Sun Devils’ front seven sacked Hundley a total of NINE times (which must be a record) on the way to a 38-33 win over the Bruins in their home finale before 70,131 fans, winning the Pac-12 South championship in the process and getting sweet revenge for losing to UCLA the previous two years by a total of three points.
And on field goals, no less, ASU missing a game-winning kick in 2011 while the Bruins made a game-winning kick in 2012.
This time, it was Fairbairn, UCLA’s kicker, that had the problems as those two missed kicks were, points-wise, the difference in the game.
But as was said, it was Arizona State’s advantage on the d-line, NOT Fairbairn’s kicking, that won the game for the Sun Devils and brought the South division title to Tempe.
Not only did now-12th ranked ASU break the Bruins’ hold on the South, it puts them in a position to where if they beat rival Arizona in the upcoming Territorial Cup this Saturday, they would host the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 7 against Stanford by way of their better conference record (7-1, 9-2 overall).
As for UCLA, their performance in the games’ first 30 minutes was among their worst of the season, with the exception of Hundley’s 43-yard scoring pass to Devin Lucien on their first play from scrimmage, tying the game at seven.
Outside of that, and a 48-yard field goal by Fairbairn to give the Bruins a 10-7 lead – their only one of the game – the Sun Devils’ offense had their way with UCLA’s defense as misdirection plays and option fakes, where Kelly would fake a handoff and take off in the opposite direction, got chunks of yards for ASU.
And speaking of Kelly, he gets my vote for player-of-the-game honors as his 99 yards rushing and a touchdown complimented his going 20-for-27 with 225 yards in the air, plus that late second quarter TD pass.
For those who are bothering to keep track, that’s a total of 324 yards that Kelly acclumated out of Arizona State’s 448, accounting for roughly 75% of the Sun Devil offense.
He thoroughly outplayed Hundley as although the Bruin signal caller’s final numbers were not bad, 18 of 26 for 253 yards and two scores with that pick-six, he was a deer in the headlights, running for his life for much of the contest as the inexperience of his offensive line – three freshmen ended up playing after Simon Goines went out again, this time with a broken leg, which means he is done for the year – showed.
Especially on UCLA’s last drive, when two of those freshmen blockers were flagged for holding because they were getting beat and had no choice.
The o-line’s inexperience didn’t just show itself through Hundley getting sacked nine times either as Bradford, Sutton and company harassed him all game long, the ironic thing being that is was Chris Young, not Bradford or Sutton (one sack each), who led the way with three sacks.
Despite the smack down that the Sun Devils and their 20,000-plus fans put on UCLA in the first half, the Bruins need to be given much credit for playing much better in the third and fourth quarters and making the game as close as it was.
Even though I felt it was a mistake to put Myles Jack at running back full time, not because the freshman played badly as he ran for 86 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown, but because ASU took complete advantage of not having Jack at linebacker.
Commented Mora on Jack: “We’re hurt at running back…We felt like we needed (Jack), and he went in and did a good job. But it’s not permanent.”
Considering who UCLA is playing this week, I should hope not – more on that in a bit.
To puts things in a different and more positive perspective:
When your quarterback gets sacked nine times, your field goal kicker misses two makable kicks, your defense gives up major yardage on misdirection fakes, and you still have a chance to win at the end, you must be doing something right.
Among all the Bruins, Ismael Adams needs to be given a special mention and immense props for his performance as he had kickoff returns of 57 and 69 yards and a punt return of 49 yards, totaling 234 yards when the ball was kicked to him; in my eyes Adams was the only Bruin, particularly in the first half, to do anything positive.
Be that as it may, this now-#22 in the BCS and AP rankings UCLA team, with their record now 8-3 and 5-3 in the Pac-12 South, needs to put this loss behind them due to the renewal of certain crosstown rivalry in five days (as of this writing):
USC Trojans – The 83rd Meeting of the Crosstown Rivalry
PLACE: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 5:00 p.m. PT
TV: KABC Channel 7 (in the SoCal area)
ALL-TIME SERIES: UCLA trails, 29-46-7
LAST MEETING: UCLA won, 38-38
All this week this site will have complete coverage of this long and storied rivalry, with a special article and a prediction of how I think the game will go in addition to a preview of the game.
NOTE: Coverage of UCLA and USC will be combined rather than separate.