UCLA Football Under Terry Donahue – 1996-2015

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Nov 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Paul Perkins (24) runs with the ball against the Southern California Trojans during the game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports


After a 2013 season in which the Bruins went 11-3 – losing only to Stanford and Oregon in back to back weeks in the regular season and then Stanford again in the conference championship game – and winning the Holiday Bowl against Texas Tech, the Bruins enter 2014 as the #4 team and the favorite to represent the Pac-12 in the first ever College Football Playoff.

However, the Bruins look sluggish in their first five games, despite winning them all, and enter a week 6 showdown with #12 Oregon in Pasadena as an underdog. The UCLA defense, however, led by Myles Jack and Eric Kendricks, creates havoc all day for eventual Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offense. The Ducks are never able to build their usual fast-paced rhythm, and the Bruins make a statement with a 42-21 win.

This win energizes the team, who snap off successive wins against Cal, Colorado, #14 Arizona, Washington, #24 USC – now under Steve Sarkisian after Kiffin was fired the previous year – and an underperforming Stanford. A second victory over the Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship Game puts the Bruins at #2 heading into the playoff, behind only Alabama. UCLA is paired with #3, fellow unbeaten Florida State, in the Rose Bowl. Playing on their home turf against a Seminole team that has never looked as good as its record, the Bruins roll 51-12 and set up a matchup with Alabama in Arlington, Texas.

The Crimson Tide’s defense bottles up the Bruins running game, led by Paul Perkins, for much of the first half. But Hundley’s mobility and the many passing options presented by Herman’s offensive scheme keep the Bruins in the game, trailing only 17-14 at halftime. In the second half, however, the vaunted Tide run defense begins to crack, trying to account for what Hundley’s been able to do with his feet and his arm all day. This opens up the lanes for Perkins, who proves too speedy and elusive to be held in check for long. The Bruins jump out to a 31-14 lead, forcing the Tide to try to throw the ball. This allows Jack to help the Bruins’ athletic secondary in double covering the Tide’s lone receiving weapon, Amari Cooper. Three second-half interceptions seal the title for the Bruins, who win going away, 41-17, securing Terry Donahue’s third national title.

Next: 2015