There was a reason 81,000 fans came out to the Rose Bowl to watch UCLA take on a BCS-ranked opponent, and that was because there was a legitimate shot that the Bruins could take down the Arizona Wildcats, a team that looked like it was about to explode through the rest of their schedule. In doing so, they’d leave the conference wondering if this was the hegemon-in-grooming that would succeed Oregon once Chip Kelly bounced from Nike U to flame out in the NFL by 2015.
On Saturday night, though? Arizona was no hegemon. That was UCLA you were watching, destroying the Wildcats in every facet imaginable.
Defensively, these UCLA Bruins weren’t about to screw around. The level of intensity multiplied by consistency led to Arizona failing to accumulate 300 total yards of offense. Matt Scott couldn’t earn that ‘Cat offense a first down consistently enough to stop its ailing defense from bleeding out and the Arizona run game was held to three yards per carry.
Attribute all these things, though, to that antsy-as-hell UCLA front seven. Although the defensive line never gets the credit in 3-4 defenses, thank those guys up front — namely Cassius Marsh because the guy is your worst nightmare — for getting a push and forcing Matt Scott into ugly throws whenever he had the chance to make them (which wasn’t often because three-and-outs were the norm for Arizona, all damn night).
After Scott was uncomfortable, the secondary’s job was easy, which was to just defend errant passes as a result of all that pressure. They did that, too, which excites you because, let’s be real, when was the last time the UCLA secondary did anything worth mentioning that didn’t higher your blood pressure?
And playing defense was the primary task UCLA needed to check off its list of “things needed to do to beat Arizona.” Of course, this squad actually exceeded your wildest expectations against a top-five passing attack in the nation, since there wasn’t a doubt in your mind that the goddamn ‘Cats would make a mockery of UCLA’s defensive backs.
They didn’t, and as a result, Arizona had its worst offensive showing of 2012 — try counting all million of those redzone trips that RichRod’s offense made before blowing chances, Ducks fans — scoring just 10 points, with a touchdown coming in complete garbage time (in this case, like, the second quarter).
Offensively? Don’t even get me started.
Because it’s evident that the coaches actually, y’know, coach, considering these Bruins have now scored 45 and 66 against Arizona State and Arizona, respectively.
UCLA got back to its gameplan which was to run out the opposing defense like hell, and in the process, these Bruins snapped the ball 93 times, the second-highest of the 2012 season. Johnathan Franklin? He wasn’t messing around either, and that 6.8 yards-per-carry average still doesn’t do justice to the level of elusiveness the damn kid displays every time the ball is in his mittens. In so doing, Franklin became UCLA’s all-time leading rusher; of course, that was only 21 yards in, so clearly, the Mayor wasn’t at all fazed by his accomplishment, which was rewarded with a cool video at the Rose Bowl from Gaston Green himself congratulating Franklin.
The passing game did more than enough, too, with Brett Hundley doing what Brett Hundley does, missing on only five of his 28 passes and throwing the ball downfield in this game more than we’ve probably seen all season, taking his shots at the Arizona secondary.
Because he could, against a terrible U of A defense, which is ranked in the bottom-20 in nearly every statistical category. It paid off, too, with Hundley earning 288 yards and three touchdowns to boot. All, of course, while distributing the ball to anyone with functioning hands wearing LA Nights jerseys.
Overall, UCLA fans, you should finally be happy because these Bruins have changed. They aren’t the same old, “UCLOLA” Bruins your older siblings were made fun of for liking. These Bruins actually play big boy football, and have shocked you by doing so consistently in November, no less.
The AP has this UCLA team currently ranked at No. 25 and the BCS snubbed them last week. After demolishing a team by this much for the first time since 1997 when the Bruins destroyed Houston 66-10, we’ll all be damned if this doesn’t get changed.
So enjoy this win, UCLA fans. It keeps us all at the top, and this time, the top is lonely, with the Bruins being in sole possession of the Pac-12 South.
Would you have it any other way?