Stanford’s comeback ills Bruins

PASADENA, CA-If all else fails, get defensive. Get rough. Get tough. Put the clamps down. Hit somebody. That’s what the Stanford Cardinal did against the UCLA Bruins Saturday at the Rose Bowl. There would be no magical moment for the Bruins to pull from UCLA sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen against the reigning Pac-12 Conference champions.

What Rosen and the Bruins did get was beat up. They got wore down. They got invited to an old school smash-mouth party. It didn’t matter if Rosen passed for 248 yards and a first-half touchdown. What matters are the two turnovers Rosen had during the game, including coughing up a fumble off a sack that was returned for a late-game touchdown that sealed the victory for Stanford.

When it was all said and done, the host (UCLA) found themselves to be an unwanted guest in their own backyard, treated rather rudely from their Palo Alto visitors.

Stanford didn’t even have the decency to clean up the mess they left for the Bruins to pick up. They came. They conquered. They then were gone void of an apology or a courtesy thank you note. The house party got shut down.

A week after taking down USC, Stanford concluded its Southern California dominance for the 2016 college football season with a come-from-behind 22-13 win over UCLA. Losing to the No. 7 team in the country by nine points is nothing to be ashamed about. However, the manner in which UCLA lost to Stanford can be interpreted a bit differently.

Like, how did this happen?

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UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen gets squeezed between two Stanford Cardinal defenders in the Bruins’ 22-13 loss at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2016. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

It happened because UCLA sat on their defensive unit’s stout performance in locking up Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey (138 yards rushing) for most of the night. It happened because putting up 13 points is not going to win you too many ballgames in college football, especially in the pass-happy Pac-12 Conference.

UCLA’s second loss of the season happened because a team like Stanford can never be counted out of a game until the clock hits triple zero.

Just about the only thing UCLA could come up with against Stanford was the falsified hope they would be beat the Cardinal in their Pac-12 North Division-Pac-12 South Division field confrontation. That hope turned out to be nothing more than a mirage, a conjectured delusion. As the rap group Geto Boys say, “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

The Bruins probably had their minds playing tricks on them in that fourth quarter when they allowed Stanford to score 16 points after just giving up two field goals through the first three periods. For the first three and a half quarters, UCLA had the hope and the points behind them to believe they were in great position to knock off the Cardinal.

Upset fever looked like it was about to rain down on the Rose Bowl. The Bruins found themselves knocking around and pushing aside the big, bad wolf in this tough Stanford team with ease. Things were looking pretty good for the Bruins up until the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter. That’s when UCLA had the lights cut off by a Stanford team flexing its Pac-12 Alpha Dog muscles.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1083 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.