Trick or treat?
UCLA was tricked. And bad.
This was a classic Mora-led meltdown. Up 21-3 at halftime, the NFL-conservative head coach's philosophy clearly tricked the UCLA team into playing not to lose. Well, in the first half the UCLA offense was stagnant and relied on a few big plays to score two touchdowns thanks to another herculean effort by Perkins (2 TDs). Ishmael Adam's 96 yards pick-6 disguised a ton of poor play by the Bruins. The half ended 21-6 in favor of the Bruins.
The second half started ghoulishly for UCLA. The Buffs learned from their mistakes in the first half and pounded the ball all they way to a touchdown in 8 plays and just shy of 3 minutes. This is where is turns ugly as Stephen Johnson III fumbles a kick-return to give the Buffs a short field. Though luckily the defense holds. UCLA then scores on another quick, explosive drive with Payton leading the way with a 51 yard catch then an 11 yard Soso Jamabo run and touchdown.
The lackluster play-calling and coaching by Mora and Friends finally caught up to UCLA in the fourth quarter. After back to back to back unsuccessful plays where Rosen throws deep looking for a "home run play," Rosen fumbles the ball 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and gets scooped up by Coloradon and is run in for a TD. The Buffs now have all the momentum. The Bruins get a first down but then four plays later punt the ball. The offense can't get anything going.
Mora said that "penalties don't matter." Well, a penalty by the UCLA defense gave Colorado a free play which they converted a long pass and subsequence touchdown. With the momentum on Colorado's side and everything working for them, they try and convert the two point conversion.
The Buffs now have their first lead of the game at 31-28.
A few more punts from each team then UCLA finally puts some offense together for the go-ahead touchdown score after some big plays by Rosen with Payton (26 yards), Duarte (38 yards), and Jamabo (2 yard TD).
With 8 plus minutes left in the 4th quarter, the defense continues to bend but not break and effectively ended the game with UCLA true freshman DB Nate Meadors intercepting a notcibly-hobbled Buff QB Liufao.
Sure, the Bruins squeaked by with a win, but the entire game was lethargic. Don't be fooled by the points, the offense looked scary bad for most of the day. The defense was on the field all day and gave up 554 yards to the Buffs.
Looked like a classic, cram before an exam type of performance. Coaches get a C-/D+ from me.