It was a great day for Bruin Nation in El Paso, UCLA’s 17th ranked football team exploding for 28 points in the fourth quarter at the 80th Hyundai Sun Bowl to break things wide open and bury Virginia Tech, 42-12.
Which put an extremely nice cap on a 10-3 record, the first time the Bruins have won that many games in a season since 2005, when they beat Northwestern in…you guessed it, the Sun Bowl.
And gave Jim Mora his 19th win in his two seasons as the Bruin head coach, the most in school history for someone’s first two years at the helm.
As much as I regret having to state this and at the risk of raining on anyone’s parade, which is certainly not my intention and for which I apologize for in advance:
Now the REAL anxiety begins as far as the future of UCLA’s quarterback.
After what Brett Hundley did to those Hokies (8-5) on this last day of 2013 in that West Texas town:
- 16 out of 27 passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns in the air,
- Ten carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, including an 86-yard scoring run that broke a 7-7 tie and the record for longest touchdown run in Bruin bowl history,
- Which accounted for 387 of the Bruins’ 452 yards and decimated Virginia Tech’s fourth-ranked defense, the 202 rushing yards given up in the first half being the most that the Hokies had given up all year
The speculation will grow louder than ever that the third-year sophomore will leave Westwood, forgo his final two years of eligibility, and make himself available for the NFL draft this coming April.
It’s probably the safest bet of this college football season that everyone associated with Bruin Nation, from athletic director Dan Guerrero to Mora to the cheerleaders to the band to the alumni to the fans sitting in the nosebleed sections in the end zone at the Rose Bowl, desperately wants Hundley to stay.
The chant “One more year!”, which could be heard toward the end of the game, serves as good evidence of that.
A crowd of 47,912 at Sun Bowl Stadium actually saw a close game for the first 45 minutes, with Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer having his Hokies within a touchdown going into the fourth quarter at 14-10.
Quarterback Logan Thomas was doing all he can to keep his team in it, breaking tackles and gaining yards…until he was knocked out of the game by Jordan Zumwalt in the second quarter.
Zumwalt’s vicious hit earned him a 15-yard penalty, but it turned out to be a back-breaker for Virginia Tech as they could only generate a field goal and a safety after that.
It was the game’s final 15 minutes that saw UCLA turn into Mike Tyson in his prime as they proceeded to annihilate the Hokies, completely shutting them down on offense while scoring four TDs of their own, including one by super-frosh Myles Jack, who intercepted a Mark Leal pass and ran it back 29 yards for a score, upping the Bruin lead to 28-10.
The defense held Va Tech to three-of-17 in third down conversions, doing brilliantly in not giving the Hokies any hope for any comebacks.
Anyone who was concerned that UCLA would suffer a postseason letdown, like they’ve done in past years, was happily relieved of that worry while that fourth quarter was going on as the game was decided in a huge fashion with under six minutes left.
And illustrated the fact that it’s a new day, a new age, and a new culture in Westwood.
The only question now, as was said, is what Hundley’s plans are.
Bruin Nation will joyfully celebrate in ecstasy if their Sun Bowl offensive Most Valuable Player (along with Zumwalt, who won defensive MVP honors for his ten tackles and interception) makes this announcement within the next few days:
“I’m going to stay at UCLA for one more season and help the Bruins go for what has been our ultimate goals: A Pac-12 Championship, a berth in the Rose Bowl, and an opportunity to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff going for a national championship.”
Will Hundley be making that announcement, or one of a different kind?