It wasn't a pretty week in Westwood as CRN and his UCLA football program took a deserved beating from the media and fans for their pathetic display versus Stanford. Such an abysmal performance makes it easy for anyone and everyone to take UCLA to the woodshed and despite the fact that some of it was irrational and irritating, there was only one way to shut them up and that was by turning things around against Houston tonight at the Rose Bowl. Having to do so against a top-25 Houston team did not make for an easy task, but the Bruins came out with the fire and passion that was missing a week ago and they were rewarded with a thorough 31-13 win.
After allowing a field goal that gave Houston a 3-0 lead, the Bruins ran off 31 unanswered points to take complete control of the game and roll to victory over the Cougars. Even a fourth quarter lull couldn't wipe the joy from the faces of those on the UCLA sideline. Jonathan Franklin led the way for the offense with 158 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Kevin Prince chipped in with 60 rushing yards of his own and a touchdown on the ground. All of that was part of a 266 yard rushing effort for the game thanks to an offensive line that punched the Houston defensive front in the mouth to open the game and never stopped delivering blows.
Defensively, the players were solid and executed better than they have all season (when they weren't committing penalties). While losing Case Keenum definitely made things tough on Houston, the Bruins were putting the clamps on the potent Houston offense long before Keenum left the game in the second quarter. Chuck Bullough took a lot of heat this week for his continued shaky game calling and the spotlight was on him to get the defense where it needed to be from the first snap. That's exactly what Bullough did in calling his best game since taking over as UCLA defensive coordinator. Patrick Larimore led the linebackers will a hard-hitting, efficient game, while Akeem Ayers roamed his way to an interception and Rahim Moore got his first pick of 2010.
On the whole, a very solid performance from all parts of the Bruin football program. With the heat on, everyone from the coaches on down to the players stepped up, but that's not to say it was a flawless performance. An interception and two fumbles by Malcolm Jones saw the Bruins turn the ball over more than necessary and UCLA racked up the personal foul penalties in several examples of poor discipline. Other kinks need to be worked out too, such as Sean Westgate still being a liability against the run and more drops from the receiving corps, but when a 0-2 team can roll to a win over a top-25 team, they did a lot more good than bad.
After a poor first two games of the season, Prince took a significant step forward against the Cougars. It wasn't a perfect night for the sophomore, but the full week of practice did him a lot of good. Even Houston's Keenum, a senior with tons of experience, was clearly affected by his lack of practice this week as he looked to recover from a concussion. If someone like Keenum can be affected by a lack of practice time in one week, you can imagine what it does to a sophomore like Prince who got a full week of practice in for the first time all year. Prince took a step forward this week and looked much more comfortable and now with an expected full week of practice on tap this week, it is reasonable to expect another solid performance next week, even against a tough Texas defense in Austin.
With the first W of the season in the bag, the heat is off of the Bruins for a bit, but that doesn't mean things will get easier. UCLA may have beaten a top-25 team tonight, but next week they face a top-ten team in Texas and they do it on the road. We asked for more from CRN, Norm Chow and Bullough this week and they delivered, but they're going to have to do it again next week if they're to give the Bruins a shot at the upset.
Before we start worrying about the game in a week, though, let's take a second to relish the first win of 2010. What'd you take from the game, what did you love to see, who was your game MVP? Additionally, what couple things do the Bruins need to shore up in the next week? This is your post-game thread so have at it.