Despite limiting Christian McCaffrey to only 151 all-purpose yards, UCLA still could not break their losing streak against the Cardinal, dropping their 9th game in a row against Stanford on a touchdown pass with 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Leading 13-9, a score that means something to the UCLA fanbase, the Bruins punted the ball back to Stanford with under 2 minutes left in the game. A 15-yard penalty on Marcos Rios, who interfered with McCaffrey on the punt return, vaulted the Cardinal to their own 30 yard line, rather than having to be trapped back at the 15. The Bruin defense, which looked as good as it has all year against the Cardinal offense, allowed a 70-yard drive, which ended on a touchdown pass to Stanford WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside on a corner route to take a 16-13 lead, the Cardinal’s first lead of the game off their first touchdown.
The offense was never able to get a rushing attack going, garnering only 77 yards on the ground for the game, dividing carries between Soso Jamabo, Bolu Olorunfunmi, and Nate Starks, but Rosen completed 18 passes on 27 attempts—two would-be completions were pivotal drops, especially one by Ishmael Adams in a late-game drive—as the Bruins gained 248 yards through the air, probably Rosen’s best game of the season.
UCLA won the turnover battle 2-1 with Kenny Young grabbing an interception in the 1st half that lead to UCLA’s only touchdown. Adarius Pickett picked up a fumble from Chris Owusu, who dropped the ball after a nasty hit from Randall Goforth that the Bruins were fortunate wasn’t reversed for a targeting penalty. Josh Rosen fumbled the ball after being hit on the Hail Mary play, when defensive lineman Soloman Thomas picked up the ball and ran for a totally meaningless touchdown, adding salt to the wounds of heartbroken UCLA fans.
Jim Mora remade his football program to look like Stanford, and for much of the game it looked like the Bruins would out-Stanford Stanford. The game was undoubtedly physical, bruising, and looked like something your purist grandfather (if you have a football purist grandfather) grew up watching.
Nonetheless, a defense that played more physical, and an offense that often lined up under center with two tight-ends, still couldn’t finish off David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal, the class of the Pac-12 for the last several years.
This was a heartbreaker. There’s no other way to put it. I’m sure you all have feelings. Let us know in the comments how you feel.
We have feelings, too, which we’ll get into over the next several days.
For 59 minutes and 36 seconds, it looked like the UCLA football program would finally get over the hump and solve their Stanford problem. Instead, the Bruins get knocked to 2-2 on the season, and begin conference play in the hole one game.
Perhaps UCLA will face Stanford again in December, and Mora will have another shot to beat an elite opponent for the first time during his tenure at UCLA. The defense looks good enough to stop Pac-12 South teams, the offense, though less mistake-prone tonight, still couldn't get much going against Stanford. Another shot at the Cardinal could still be int the works.
Maybe, maybe not. But this one hurts.
The Bruins host Arizona in the Rose Bowl next week, who as of this writing is tied 14-14 with #9 Washington at the half.