Saturday, November 10, 2012
Rapid Reaction: UCLA 44, Washington State 36
By Peter Yoon
The UCLA Bruins completed the road portion of its regular-season schedule with a 44-36 victory over the Washington State Cougars on Saturday night in Pullman, Wash.
The Bruins (8-2, 5-2) remained in control of the Pac-12 South race, as they reached eight wins for the first time since 2005 and only the third time since 1998 -- the year of their last Rose Bowl appearance.
They will end the regular season with a 4-1 record on the road, marking the most road wins for UCLA since 2002 and equaling the fewest road losses in the last 19 seasons.
It was over when: UCLA recovered an onside kick with 1:25 to play. Washington State turned a 30-point deficit into a one-score game with a late touchdown and two-point conversion, but couldn’t recover the kick.
UCLA had opened a 44-14 lead with four minutes to play in the third quarter, but couldn’t muster much offense after that and the Cougars made a fourth-quarter run. The hole was too deep to dig out of, though, as the Bruins had scored three touchdowns and a safety during a span of just more than two minutes in the second quarter, turning a 7-7 tie into a 30-7 lead.
A 16-yard screen pass from Brett Hundley to Johnathan Franklin for a touchdown with 8:57 left in the first half started the scoring spree, then Stan McKay forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Fabian Moreau recovered at the Washington State 24.
Four plays later, Brett Hundley hit Joseph Fauria for a 9-yard touchdown and a 21-7 UCLA lead. Two plays after that, Anthony Barr delivered a sack for a safety. Kenneth Walker then returned the free kick 40 yards and Hundley followed with a 31-yard completion to Fauria and a 10-yard touchdown pass to Devin Fuller for a 30-7 UCLA lead with 6:40 left in the second quarter.
Game ball goes to: Anthony Barr. The junior outside linebacker had a career-high eight tackles, four of them for a loss. He also had three sacks, recorded a safety and blocked a punt.
Key stat: Washington State passed for 457 yards -- the most surrendered by the Bruins this season. Most of that came after Cougars starting quarterback Jeff Tuel left with an injury. That’s when Connor Halliday passed for 330 yards and five touchdowns. And it must be noted Wazzu was without leading receiver Marquess Wilson, who quit the team. That all doesn’t bode well going into next week’s tilt against the USC Trojans’ Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.
What it means: Next week’s game against USC will be for the Pac-12 South Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 title game. The Bruins (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) are a half-game ahead of the Trojans (7-3, 5-3) and the tiebreaker would be the head-to-head matchup, so a game that is big every year will carry conference title and postseason implications.