Beginning their Pac-12 schedule put UCLA to their toughest test so far this season, but Jim Mora has been slowly building this program to aim for bigger goals than barely making it into the conference championship game. With the one-man show that is Brett Hundley right now, it wn’t be the most they’ll be satisfied with for once.
Visiting Salt Lake City gave UCLA their toughest opponents of the season, but they eventually overcame Utah with a 34-27 win, coming back from a bad first quarter (were behind 14-7) and the game being tied at 24 with 13 minutes left in the game.
Hundley was very close to once again reaching 300 yards at both passing and running, throwing for 211 yards and a touchdown (also an interception), while running for 85 yards and a touchdown (3 minutes left, giving UCLA a 10-point lead) and another touchdown – the one that leveled the playing field at 14-14 early in the second quarter, the last time UCLA were behind in the game, as a receiver.
Hundley was good, not perfect, missing out on his fourth 300+ from scrimmage game, but the UCLA defense was what really made the difference. Ranked 36th in the nation by allowing 20.3 points per game against Nevada, Nebraska, New Mexico State and now Utah, they intercepted Travis Wilson six times, with Anthony Jefferson getting to be the stand out with two picks.
It’s hard to blame Wilson himself for all the picks, especially the first four. They came on balls that got either tipped or thrown under heavy pressure, a couple of which hit his receivers in the hands. Wilson still completed two passes for touchdowns, including a 54-yard throw to Dres Anderson in the first quarter.
Are UCLA once again the best team in the Southern division? Seems like it, and not just because they’re the only undefeated team left standing among the six. They have the best defense in the division, and the only team that looked like it might pose a problem, USC, are heading into what looks like their worst season in a very long time, already firing their head coach Lane Kiffin.
The defense stepped up, and the offense knew they were going to do their job.
It was pretty much the best way to sum up the game for the Bruins, who weren’t brilliant like in other performances this season. But they have a quarterback that even without one contact lens can see and do well enough to carry his team in a very tough stadium to play in. There are more talked about players when the Heisman is mentioned, and UCLA are going to need a huge season, which includes shocking either Stanford or Oregon along the way, in order for Hundley to be seriously considered. However, considering his influence and ability to lead his team to their first 4-0 start since 2005, it’s hard to think of anyone else UCLA would rather have orchestrating this offense.