Oregon State Takes It To UCLA, 27-20


Well, so much for the 3-0 start and the dreams (however unrealistic) of an undefeated season.

Sept. 22, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Shaquelle Evans (1) holds on to a pass in the first half of the game against the Oregon State Beavers at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

So much for the top 25 ranking.

So much for Johnathan Franklin being the nation’s leading rusher and the embyonic Heisman Trophy hopes that went with that.

And so much for the excitement generated by UCLA winning their first three games under Jim Mora as the Oregon State Beavers came to the Rose Bowl and stuck it to the Bruins, 27-20, before 54,636 sweltering fans, including a large student contingent as classes have started this week.

The Beavers burned UCLA for 501 total yards while holding the Bruins to 72 rushing yards, with Franklin being shut down as he gained just 45 of those yards; hence his no longer being the Football Bowl Subdivision leader in ground yardage as coach Mike Riley’s game plan was to stop UCLA’s running game and take advantage of the offensive line’s and quarterback Brett Hundley’s inexperience.

Which proved to be quite successful as although he threw for 372 yards and a touchdown, Hundley, for the first time, played like what he is – a redshirt freshman who, in only his fourth collegiate start, misfired on far too many crucial throws and was generally outplayed by his Oregon State counterpart, Sean Mannion, who completed 24 of 35 passes for 379 yards and two touchdowns, including a long 75-yard strike to Brandin Cooks that immediately followed a tying 21-yard field goal by UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairburn in the seciond quarter.

Not that Hundley’s misfires were entirely his fault as his offensive line, which features mostly first year starters and was without veterans Jeff Baca and Greg Capella due to head issues, were manhandled by the Beavers’ defensive front and had Hundley running for his life for much of the game.

While Mannion had all day to throw and wasn’t pressured until the fourth quarter.

Although their seven penalties for 56 yards were fewer than in previous games, the yellow flags continue to be a significant problem for the Bruins as many of the fouls they committed were of the 15-yard kind that hurt UCLA badly at the most inopportune times, costing them important first downs and key stops on defense.

With Mora’s squad leading the nation in penalty yards, it’s safe to say that this has now become a major issue, one that will lead to more losses unless the players show a lot more discipline on the field.


On a more positive note, at least the Bruins didn’t turn the ball over, causing a fumble and intercepting a pass themselves in the third quarter.

The problem was, the offense failed miserably to do anything with the turnovers that the defense provided them, giving up the ball on a 4th down play in one instance and punting in the other.

Though Fairburn did kick two field goals in the game, his missing a key 42-yarder in the fourth quarter didn’t help things any.

As did Sheldon Price getting burned by Mannion’s two throwing scores and committing a crucial pass interference foul in the 3rd quarter, which directly led to a two-yard touchdown run by OSU running back Storm Woods and pushed the Beavers’ lead to 24-10, ultimately putting the game out of reach.

Not to completely lay the blame of the UCLA loss on the senior defensive back, as other players such as Darius Bell, Aaron Hester and Joseph Fauria earned costly penalties that helped to kill the Bruins as well.

Add to that Oregon State being quicker and more physical on both sides of the ball, and the recipe for UCLA’s first defeat of 2012 – and of Jim Mora’s tenure – was complete.

In fairness, the Beavers must be given credit for beating their second ranked team in a row (they beat then-13th ranked Wisconsin to open their season), this win being more impressive because it was on the road.

To be perfectly honest, I predicted that these Bruins, due to their youth at quarterback, both interior lines, and in the secondary (Price and Hester notwithstanding), would go through some growing pains and have games where they’re not at their best – like against these Beavers from Corvallis.

Remember, my official wins projection for this team at the beginning of the season was seven, so in that sense I am not that surprised or shocked at what transpired at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

In fact, I dare say that many folks in Bruin Nation may have grown a tiny bit spoiled over UCLA’s 3-0 start, the beating of big-name power Nebraska, and being ranked for the first time in five years.

Now it’s Oregon State that has the ranking – #18 in the AP poll and #21 in the coaches’ poll.

The possible silver lining to this cloud is that UCLA’s next opponent is one that, quite frankly, was a sad sack until they staged an epic 4th quarter comeback win over Washington State this past Saturday: Colorado.

A preview of the Bruins’ upcoming date with these Buffaloes from Boulder will be coming this Wednesday.