Some people thought it was an upset, but Oregon State looks like the real deal, while UCLA needs to put this 27-20 loss behind them. Photo by Jason Lewis
UCLA has started 3-0 five times since 2000, but only once finished with a 10 win season.
Hopefully there were not many UCLA fans who had illusions of grandeur that the Bruins would compete for a national championship or BCS bowl after their 3-0 start, because if anybody was banking on that, then Oregon State sent them into an early season depression with a 27-20 win at the Rose Bowl this past Saturday.
This UCLA’s team is improved over what they put out on the field over the past few seasons, but they were not about to run the table. They caught the nation’s attention, but at some point it was going to come to an end. Now it is time to move on with the rest of the season.
UCLA is now at a crossroad. They can either get back to winning when they travel to Colorado this Saturday, or they can do what past UCLA teams did after a loss, which is go into a tailspin.
This season is the fifth time since 2000 that UCLA started the season with a 3-0 record. The previous four times, they finished with seven or less wins in three of those seasons. In 2000 they finished 6-6, 7-4 in 2001, and 7-6 in 2009. Their 2005 team, under head coach Karl Dorrell, finished the season with a 10-2 record.
If first year head coach Jim Mora Jr. has truly changed the culture in Westwood, then a run at a 10 win season is in order. But if they continue to give up big plays on defense, then they may struggle to be bowl eligible with six victories.
UCLA ranks a modest 68th among 120 major college teams in defense, based on yards given up, but the Bruins are high on the charts in interceptions (1st), sacks (15th), tackles for a loss (23rd) and fumble recoveries (28th).
Those numbers show that UCLA’s defense has big play abilities, but the big plays that they have been giving up finally caught up to them. Against Oregon State, their defense was exposed as they gave up big plays, leaving them in a second quarter deficit of 14 points, which Oregon State matched late in the 3rd quarter. Outside of tying the game 3-3 early in the second quarter, UCLA played from behind the entire game.
UCLA won the turnover battle 2-0 against Oregon State, forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass, but they allowed passing touchdowns of 75 and 42 yards.
In previous weeks, UCLA’s defense has given up an 86-yard touchdown run to Houston quarterback David Piland and a 92-yard touchdown run to Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez.
UCLA’s defense needs to continue to make the big plays, but cut down on giving them up if this team wants to make a run at a 10-win season.