The things Arizona could least afford, mistakes, were the most costly.
UCLA got three fumbles and two interceptions from the Wildcats in a 37-17 victory Saturday that put the Bruins in a first-place tie with Arizona and USC in the Pacific 10 Conference.
With the victory, 15th-ranked UCLA, 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-10, is the only team in the league in control of its own Rose Bowl destiny.
The Bruins used a fumble for a field goal and an interception to set up a touchdown in the first half and, in the second half, two fumbles for field goals and an interception returned 64 yards by linebacker Nkosi Littleton for UCLA's final points against seventh-ranked Arizona (7-1, 4-1).
"Our coaches told us all week that to win the game, we had to give the ball to the offense in good field position," safety Marvin Goodwin said. "That meant we had to work to get turnovers."
The work was rewarded.
Arizona was punished.
"We got our . . . kicked," Arizona Coach Dick Tomey said. "You can't give a team like UCLA that many opportunities and win."
UCLA took a 7-0 lead after taking advantage of an exchange of punts. The Bruins' Darren Schager boomed one 57 yards, out of bounds on the Arizona two. The Wildcats' return kick, by Matt Peyton, reached only the Arizona 39, from which the Bruins went into business.
On third down from the 36, Cook found J.J. Stokes one-on-one with Jey Phillips, just ahead of him inside the 10 as Cook threw. The ball was high, Stokes outjumping Phillips and falling into the end zone with his 14th touchdown reception this season and 21st of his career, breaking JoJo Townsell's school record of 20.
It was the 15th touchdown pass of the season for Cook.
"They were bringing pressure off the flanks," Cook said. "J.J. just put his hand up to let me know he was going inside."
Stokes finished with six catches for 91 yards.
Arizona struggled offensively, quarterback Dan White missing his first three passes. His fourth, for 19 yards to Terry Vaughn, was his last of the first half. White was hit by Jamir Miller from behind on the play, going down and out because of a strained knee. Freshman Brady Batten replaced him.
Batten nursed the Wildcats to their first first down, but the next play ended the series, Chuck Levy fumbling, with UCLA's Donnie Edwards recovering on the Bruin 49.
Cook hit Stokes for 18 yards and Ricky Davis ran for 11 before the drive stalled. Bjorn Merten kicked his 14th field goal of the season, a 39-yarder, for a 10-0 lead with 3:10 to play in the first quarter.
Batten then got Arizona going, but only briefly, moving the ball to the Bruin 38 before the defense held, prompting a rugby-style punt by Steve McLaughlin out of field-goal formation.
From their 11, the Bruins moved, with Cook rolling out for 14 yards. It was his first designed run of the season and seemed to open the middle of the defense, Davis then hitting it for five yards. The drive was helped by a pass-interference call on Claudius Wright, who was double-teaming Stokes with Tony Bouie at the time.
Cook completed four passes on the drive, which died on the Arizona nine, Merten then kicking a field goal from 26 yards for a 13-0 lead.
It became 20-0 late in the half after Marvin Goodwin intercepted a Batten pass, returning it 27 yards to the Arizona 46 and sending Batten to the sidelines with a hip pointer, suffered while trying to make the tackle.
Davis followed a block by center Mike Flanagan on Wildcat All-American Rob Waldrop 17 yards to the 28, with 14 more yards coming on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. From the 14, it took only one play, Cook finding Kevin Jordan ahead of the beleaguered Wright in the end zone.
In taking a 20-0 first-half lead over a team that had given up only 70 points all season, 37 in four Pacific 10 games, the Bruins rushed for 64 yards against a defense that had given up an average of only 15.2 yards per game.
Cook, who occasionally missed open receivers, completed 11 of 20 in the first half for 131 yards and avoided being sacked by a team that had 36 sacks.
The lead became 27-0 in the third quarter, with a lot of help from an Arizona penalty. Tommy Bennett recovered a Levy fumble on the Wildcat 29, and Cook hit Jordan for 11 yards, but on third down, Cook threw a floater into the end zone, where Bouie intercepted. But Wright was called for holding, and UCLA was on the two.
Davis outran Phillips to the end zone with 9:21 to play.
It became 30-0 quickly thereafter. Ontiwaun Carter ran up the middle, where he was met by Shane Jasper. Sale Isaia came in to help, saw Jasper didn't need any and started digging the ball out of Carter's hands.
Suddenly with the ball, Isaia took off, White catching him at the 20 and being dragged to the 11. Three plays later, Merten kicked another field goal, from 23 yards, for a 30-0 lead.