WESTWOOD, CA-For the UCLA football team, a win is a win. The Bruins will take a victory anyway that they come by. It doesn’t matter how pretty it is. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece like one of Picasso paintings. As long as they can find the “W” column, Jim Mora and his Bruins are all good. That was the takeaway from UCLA’s Saturday’s 35-31 win against Colorado in the Rose Bowl.
“They’re a bunch of warriors is what they are,” Mora said. ” They’re not survivors; they’re warriors. And they’ll figure it out. They’ll go out and go Oregon State, and we’ll play their asses off.”
If Mora sounded stoked in his postgame press conference, he had every right to be. After blowing an 18-point lead, Mora’s Bruins showed a little bit of moxie, mixed in with some toughness and displayed a dash of calm in coming back to win a game they had neatly packed away in the second quarter with a 21-3 advantage.
After squandering that 21-3 lead, the Bruins got bailed out by a young pup still somewhat wet behind the ears. But Nate Meadors didn’t need any Similac to keep UCLA in the hunt for the Pac-12 Conference South Division title with his last-minute interception that sealed the victory for the Bruins. When Meadors made the play of the game with 51 seconds remaining, UCLA’s defensive unit was practically was running on fumes.
Colorado had run 114 plays. In comparison, UCLA was lucky enough to get off 59 plays for the entire game. Meadors put an end to UCLA’s bend-but-don’t break defense conquest of the Buffaloes. Meadors saw his game-saving play drawn up in practice. He knew what was coming and instinctively broke on a sideline pass thrown by Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau to come up with the first interception of his career.
“I just went in there…had preparation all week,” Meadors said. “I was just ready to go, and I was excited to play. I was just happy that God blessed me to be able to make that play. I was just happy.”
Speaking of preparation, the play in which he made the interception on came to Meadors just as he had seen it throughout the week.
“We have weekly tests,” Meadors said. “It was actually on the test. I seen it, and I just jumped on it.”
This wasn’t the smoothest game they Bruins have played. The rave of all of Westwood this season, quarterback Josh Rosen played like a true inexperienced freshman at times. Rosen misfired on 14 of his 33 passes and had a fumble returned for a touchdown. The Bruins’ defensive unit, fresh off a physical pounding from the Buffaloes offense, looked more like a MASH unit by the end of the ballgame after surrendering 554 yards in total offense.
On what this win says about the Bruins, wide receiver Thomas Durate said it is a reflection of the Bruins’ makeup.
“Shows we’re tough, shows our grit, shows our mentality of the team,” Duarte said. “It truly shows the colors of the team. To be up by that many points, then to be down, and to come back and win, it tells a lot about our team.”
Those numbers will have any coach shouting and doing a dance on the football field. It look like it was going to be one of those long afternoon for UCLA. The signs kept pointing to danger on the afternoon for the Bruins. Colorado owned the game clock, keeping the ball for 41 minutes compared to UCLA’s time of possession of 18 minutes, 55 seconds.
By halftime, the Buffaloes had accumulated nearly 300 yards in total offense.The full moon hadn’t yet come out but you could tell that Halloween was near. Colorado still trailed the Bruins 21-3 at halftime. The Buffaloes made four trips into the red zone, only to come away with two field goals. One of those drives ended with Ishmael Adams going to the house on a 96-yard interception return, which gave UCLA a 14-3 lead.
Paul Perkins’ 82-yard touchdown run made it 21-3. The Bruins then got comfortable. UCLA wound up squandering their 18-point lead. You would think that would had been enough to do the Bruins in.
It was not. Instead of folding, the Bruins got up off the mat after Colorado had a taken a 31-28 lead late in the game. Rosen immediately went into clutch mode and drove the Bruins down the field for the game-winning score . To Rosen, that is all that matters.
“I’m happy that we won, ” Rosen said.