The final score from the Rose Bowl on Saturday night was only 31-13, UCLA over Houston. But the loss was much, much worse than the final score, or the stat
sheet, indicate. Sure the Cougars lost the game, but they lost more than just the game, they might have lost the season.
Gone for the season with a torn ACL is Case Keenum, who was injured in the second quarter trying to make a tackle after his second interception of the game. Gone for the season is Keenum's backup, Cotton Turner, who broke his clavicle in the second half.
And to top things off came a loss in which, despite the final score, the Cougars rarely even appeared to be competitive with UCLA. The only time the Cougars were competitive was during that brief period in the first quarter when they were up 3-0.
After that, the Bruins, who were 0-2 coming into the game, dominated the entire game. Offensively. Defensively. Special teams. If there was an aspect of the game to be dominated, then the Bruins dominated it.
The Bruins pushed the Cougars up and down the field, doing whatever they wanted to do on offense where running back Jonathan Franklin gained 160 yards on 26 rushes while scoring three times.
Quarterback Kevin Prince, who was nearly benched after the Bruins were shut out by Stanford last week, rushed for another 64 yards and ran for another touchdown.
No matter what the Bruins wanted to do, they did it.
And the Cougars just weren't able to stop it.
"Everybody's got their nights," linebacker Marcus McGraw said. "And tonight UCLA, they brought their A game. And for us, being our first away game, I don't think we brought our A game. We showed it out there on the field."
And while the Bruins offense was pushing around the Cougars defense, the vaunted Cougar offense was being shut down by the Bruins defense.
The Cougars' big offensive plays came on tricks and slip-ups -- a Tyron Carrier pass to James Cleveland for 48 yards, a Case Keenum scramble for 45 yards.
But more than just shutting down the Cougar offense, the Bruins literally destroyed the Cougar offense as both Case Keenum, getting the start a week after leaving a game due to concussion-like symptoms, and his backup, Cotton Turner, both left the game with season-ending injuries -- Keenum injured his right leg attempting to make a tackle after throwing an interception and Turner injured his throwing shoulder.
"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, offensively," wide receiver James Cleveland said. "We played hard, competed. That was a good team out there, very athletic, with a lot of good players on their defense. Hats off to their team. They had a scheme for us. They were prepared. We just, we've just got to overcome ourselves."
Shoot themselves in the foot they did. Time after time after time.
Keenum's second interception came on a pass he threw on first and goal from the two-yard line at a time when the Cougars appeared to have the Bruins on the run and at a time when they could have made the competitive at the half by making it 21-10 in the second quarter and gaining some momentum.
"We had two turnovers in the red zone that -- not only were they turnovers -- the returns went for a lot of yards and put our defense in a bind," Cleveland said. "We're on the road, it's hard to recover from that."
And worse than the team's three turnovers were the numerous false-start penalties that Cleveland attributed to the team playing its first game on the road this season.
But from the press box, it appeared to be more than just scheming and preparation. More than just the Cougars shooting themselves in the foot. It just appeared that UCLA was bigger, faster, and stronger than the Cougars.
When the Cougars walked off the field after the first half, the shock wasn't that they were losing, it was that the score was only 21-3. And while it might have been puzzling that the Cougars had to rely on reverses and trick plays to gain yards, the fact was it appeared they just had no other options because the UCLA defensive line was just stopping the Cougars whenever they tried to pull off the type of power game they did against UTEP.
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"I thought UCLA played very, very well," head coach Kevin Sumlin stated. "They answered the challenge and made it into a physical game. You've got to them credit for how they played, too."
Credit should go to the Bruins. The Bruins were clearly the better team on Saturday night, Case Keenum or no Case Keenum. And for the Cougars, it's appearing that they just might have to go out without Case Keenum for awhile.
MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
UH announced Sunday afternoon that Keenum and Turner are out for the year, Keenum with an ACL and Turner with a fractured claivicle...I knew the Rose Bowl was big, but it wasn't until they announced the attendance that I really realized just how big it really it is. The announced attendance was 54,407. That sounds large, then you look out of the press box and you see rows and rows of empty seats....It was hard to find any positives for the Cougars on Saturday, but if there was one, it was the fourth-quarter play of freshman quarterback Terrance Broadway who lead the Coogs to their only touchdown. The plan was to redshirt Broadway this season, but with the injuries to Keenum and Turner, Sumlin and the staff reached the conclusion that Broadway was going to have to play football this season....place kicker Matt Hogan made two field goals on Saturday. He now is a perfect 16-for-16 on field goals for his college career..