PASADENA, Calif. -- In naming true freshman Josh Rosen UCLA's starting quarterback, coach Jim Mora said Rosen had lived up to his billing as the country's No. 1-ranked prep quarterback.
But that was in practice.
What Rosen did Saturday in the Bruins' 34-16 season-opening win against Virginia was significantly more impressive. Forget meeting expectations; Rosen cleared the bar with room to spare. Not only did he justify Mora's decision to hand him the reigns, his debut -- 28-for-35, 351 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions -- stands as one of the best performances by a true freshman quarterback in recent history.
What the win means for UCLA: As much of the Pac-12 failed to meet expectations in the opening week, the Bruins heightened theirs. Rosen went from a relative unknown to an obvious strength before the first half was over, instantly giving UCLA fans reason to be excited for at least the next three seasons. With a deep and talented roster already in place, Rosen's emergence solidifies UCLA as a conference-title contender.
What the loss means for Virginia: It's tough to draw any firm conclusions about the Cavaliers as they traveled across the country to play a clearly superior team. When given time, quarterback Matt Johns (21-of-35, 238 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) made some decent plays, but the rushing game never found a rhythm. It doesn't get easier next week, either, with Notre Dame at home.
Player of the game: Rosen. The first true freshman quarterback to start an opener in UCLA history, his 351 yards passing were the most by a UCLA quarterback making their first start in at least 20 years. As good as his numbers look, they could have been even better -- his first snap of the game should have gone for a 75-yard touchdown, but the pass was dropped.
When the game turned: 11:48, third quarter. The Bruins were already leading 17-9, but a 13-play touchdown drive made it painfully clear Virginia wasn't going to come back. The drive was punctuated by a 1-yard touchdown run from Myles Jack, and the Bruins never looked back.