PASADENA-Much of the onus this season for the UCLA football team has been on the shoulders of quarterback Brett Hundley and the explosive dynamics of the Bruins offense. Somewhere along the way, the UCLA’s defense dipped into the wilderness, surrendering 30 points or more in four straight games before the Bruins faced off against the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Rose Bowl in a Pac-12 showdown.
UCLA’s defensive unit finally showed up to the party, holding down the Wildcats to single digits in a 17-7 win. It is the lowest amount of points that the Bruins have given up all season, a feat made complete when they held Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon in check, forcing the signal-caller into a rough 18-for-48 passing evening. The defeat will likely drop Arizona from its No. 12 ranking and move UCLA’s current No. 22 position down the ladder a couple of pegs.
Except for a first quarter blink in which the Wildcats went 75 yards on 12 plays that ended with a Solomon 14-yard touchdown pass to Cayleb Jones, UCLA’s defensive unit could have very well pitched a shutout on Rich Rodriguez’s team. So stout was UCLA’s defense that the Bruins held Arizona to just 255 yards in total offense for the whole game. Of that total, 175 yards came through the air. Key to the success was the Bruins limiting the Wildcats to 6 of 20 efficiency on third downs.
With the defense finally clamping down on an opponent, UCLA’s offensive unit shook itself out of a first half funk in which they manged to put up just three points to pull away with the win with two touchdowns coming in the third quarter. Of course, it was the magic of Hundley that made it happen.
Hundley led the team in rushing with 131 yards on 24 carries. He also completed 19 of 26 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown to complete high night. A large chunk of Hundley’s total output through the air came on a 70-yard touchdown throw to Jordan Payton. The defensive unit’s production was a good thing to happen for the Bruins. With remaining games against Washington, USC and Stanford, the Bruins are going to need to produce a couple of lockup performances to stay in the hunt for the Pac-12 championship.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”