As College Gameday came up to the Pacific Northwest, the Bruins squared off against the undefeated and BCS-title contending Oregon Ducks. All of the pressure was on the Ducks with the national presence, their ranking in the first BCS standings, and a huge spread in their favor. No one in the national media gave the Bruins much of a shot in this game, treating the threat of the #11 UCLA Bruins like a Mountain West team.
UCLA's defense took the message and answered in the first half. The offense did not.
Oregon opened up the game with the ball and turned it over on their second play on a big hit by Myles Jack and a strip by Eric Kendricks, recovered by Randal Goforth. UCLA drove down the short field and ended on a Brett Hundley keeper on a zone read to take an early 7-0 lead. The Ducks were forced to punt on their next drive, but faked up the middle for 66 yards. A few plays later, they would tie it up at 7.
The next big moment was a failed 4th and 2 attempt by the Bruins to give Oregon the ball back. Oregon followed that with their first big offensive play, a 40-yard TD run by Byron Marshall to take a 14-7 lead. After a pathetic offensive series, the defense once again got Oregon off the field with no points and Noel Mazzone's offense drove down using the run game until Hundley threw his 7th interception of the year. The Bruin defense was not fazed, forcing another three-and-out and Myles Jack blocked the punt to give the Bruins amazing field position.
UCLA would capitalize and actually use the middle of the field to score a touchdown on a slant to Thomas Duarte to tie the game at 14. The Ducks would attack with a minute to go, the defense bent but did not break and the Ducks ended up missing a FG to end the half.
Brett Hundley was hot and cold in the first half, though the middle of the field was rarely targeted. The running game was the best it has been in weeks with Paul Perkins and Malcolm Jones looking solid behind the young offensive line.
The Bruin defense effectively took Marcus Mariota out of the game in the first half and that was why the score was 14-14 as the Bruins were in position for the first statement game of Jim Mora's short tenure at UCLA.
The second half would start with a short Bruin drive ending in a punt after a carry up the middle by Steven Manfro on 3rd and 5. Questionable play call to say the least. The punt fest continued for the better part of the third quarter as the defenses for both teams were excellent on third downs. The Ducks got into the red-zone on their second possession. The Bruins would create another turnover as Anthony Barr beat his man to recover a botched snap by the Ducks. Another three-and-out gave the Ducks amazing field position once again. The Ducks took advantage and scored on Marshall's 2nd TD to take a 14-21 deficit for the Bruins.
The Bruins offense is absolutely pitiful at this point. Not even an attempt to throw the ball after the Duarte TD. Basic, bland route schemes that don't fool any defense, especially not a secondary as talented as Oregon's.
Brett Hundley answered by throwing his 2nd interception of the game and once again gave Oregon amazing field position.
You cannot stop the Ducks on offense forever.
The Ducks drove down 38-yard in 7 plays and scored again to take a 28-14 lead in the 4th quarter. On a must-score drive, the Bruins went 3-and-out once again to wipe out any chance of a comeback.
Oregon would put together another score to make it 35-14 as Eric Kendricks and Ellis McCarthy both went down on the drive. After another pathetic drive, Oregon covered the spread with a touchdown, making it a 42-14 final score.
Bottomline, Noel Mazzone and the offensive staff failed as coaches today.
They have been headed towards failure since Brett Hundley's "eye injury" against Utah. The offense has looked progressively worse every week. It's fair that Oregon and Stanford are the two best defenses the Bruins will face in the Pac-12.
UCLA is now as good as Arizona State was with Noel Mazzone. Lots of NFL talent on defense and an NFL QB stuck in an offense that runs 10 plays.
If winning 7-9 games and annual trips to the Sun and Alamo Bowl are cool with Jim Mora, then both he and Mazzone are undeserving of the "culture change" praise they are receiving. Meeting bare minimum expectations are unacceptable at UCLA.