PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 29: Johnathan Franklin #23 of the UCLA Bruins celebrates a touchdown for a 7-7 tie against the California Golden Bears at Rose Bowl on October 29, 2011 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Hooray! The U.C.L.A. Bruins found an opponent that was far more inept than themselves, took advantage of 5 Cal turnovers, and added a strong ground game to cruise to a 31-14 win. The stats can be found here.
This began as a game that looked as if both teams were trying as hard as possible to give the game away. When the Bruins started out strong with a fumble on their second drive, the Bears went 4 plays on the short field to take a 7-0 lead. When the Bruins had a nice drive for a touchdown to tie, Cal then came back strong and gifted the Bruins 10 more points with two turnovers of their own deep in their own territory.. The Bruins made a strong effort not to expand their lead before the half with wimpy play calling and bad clock management and headed into halftime protecting a 17-7 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Bruins gave Cal the ball at the its own 15 to start the 3rd on a muffed punt which Cal couldn't help but convert for a TD, making it a 3 point game. U.C.L.A. then kept the Bears in the game by punting at the Cal 35. But Cal toughened up with a missed FG to keep the deficit at 3. Cal then stepped up with another pick deep in its territory and Derrick Coleman cashed it in for a TD to give the Bruins a 24-14 lead early in the 4th qtr.
The Bruin defense then allowed Cal to mount a long drive that was paused by a scary injury to Dietrich Riley, and then stopped altogether when Bears QB Maynard fired his 3rd pick, this time in the red zone, to eliminate a chance to get back in the game. The Bruins briefly considered giving the ball back, but Coleman's fumble was overturned on review, and with that, the Bruins decided to go ahead and take what was offered. They took control of the game with a long time consuming drive for another touchdown. Cal sealed the loss with a final pick late in the 4th, and the Bruins cruised to the 31-14 win.
Ok, sarcasm aside, we are sincerely grateful and happy with a Homecoming win tonight. Despite the turmoil following the Arizona debacle, the Bruins showed a lot of character in winning a game that was truly winnable. Cal contributed to the Bruins' success with plenty of mistakes, but we understand the frustration around a struggling team and hope that Cal gets their ship righted soon. But back to the Bruins, tonight's game featured some great performances by Tevan McDonald with 3 picks, Derrick Coleman with 3 touchdowns and 80 clutch tough yards on the ground, Kevin Prince with 163 yards of his own, 2 big sacks from Datone Jones, and a gutty performance by a banged up Jeff Locke. Eric Kendricks led a strong effort for the maligned defense that repeatedly shut down the Bears on 3rd down. Also inspiring was the strong play of many of our young and highly touted players, including Wade Yandall with a great game on the OL, Keenan Graham and Aramide Olaniyan on the DL, and Jerry Rice, Jr. Most importantly, let's keep Dietrich Riley in our thoughts tonight as he undergoes further evaluation for what looked to be a scary neck injury. The movemnet in his limbs and the thumbs up and wave to the crowd as he was car off was the best scene of the night.
We have discussed the problems with U.C.L.A. football over and over recently. Tonight is a time to focus on the potential of UCLA football. For anyone who has questioned the talent on this team, tonight's game ends that argument. However, the underlying sickness in the athletic department still exists. Despite the outcome, this game is not the mythical corner that we have been waiting for with this program. Until Dan Guerrero is fired, and a new coach is hired to replace Rick Neuheisel, those young talents that we saw fighting against a struggling Cal team won't get to realize their true potential.
Imagine seeing tonight's performance on a regular basis.