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Bruins can't keep pace with Baylor

HOLIDAY BOWL: BAYLOR 49, NO. 17 UCLA 26

Bears' offense and, surprisingly, their defense lead to rout

December 28, 2012|Chris Foster

SAN DIEGO — Of all the things that happened to UCLA on Thursday night, there was one that the Bruins could feel good about: They didn't have to face Robert Griffin III.

Nick Florence was enough to deal with.

Florence didn't go home with the Heisman Trophy this season. He settled for making the Bruins' defense look statuesque, at least mobility-wise.

With a lickety-split offense, the Bears rolled to a 49-26 victory in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. This was not the epilogue the Bruins (9-5) desired after winning more than eight games for the second time since 1998.

UCLA defensive end Datone Jones summed it up in a brief statement: "Bad stuff happens."

And kept happening.

For those wondering how UCLA would have fared against Oregon this season, roll tape.

The Bears are nowhere near as efficient at the hyper-paced, no-huddle offense as Oregon. Still, the Bruins spent the night in pursuit.

Baylor (8-5) came into the game with a defense ranked 119 out of 120 teams nationally, but it was the Bruins who had the bottom-of-the-barrel performance.

The Bears had 494 yards and the stat-fest covered the entire backfield, with Florence directing.

He threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for a touchdown. Lache Seastrunk gained 138 rushing and one touchdown. Glasco Martin had 98 rushing and three touchdowns.

"Their running backs found holes and that opened up the passing game," UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks said. "It spiraled down."

It was Baylor's second consecutive bowl victory.

"I have been on the other side and that can cause five or six months of sleepless nights," Baylor Coach Art Briles said.

It's the Bruins who will be tossing and turning.

This was the biggest bowl game for UCLA since the 1999 Rose Bowl. Instead of a crowning moment, they were left with a three-game losing streak that showed they may not be quite ready to take up permanent residence with the Pac-12 elite.

There will come a time that the Bruins can assess the season and be happy. There were victories over Nebraska, and USC -- only the second over the Trojans since 1999. There was the Pac-12 South Division title and a spot in rankings for the first time since 2007.

Coach Jim Mora said the game demonstrated "we have a long ways to go to be what we want to be, which is national champions."

The Bruins were a long way from being Holiday Bowl champions.

Only Louisiana Tech surrendered more yards per game than Baylor. Yet, the Bruins were reduced offensively to what quarterback Brett Hundley could create while on the run.

Baylor started blitzing more or less during the coin toss and didn't relent. Hundley threw for 329 yards but was sacked six times.

The pressure increased after UCLA lost tackle Torian White and center Jake Brendel to high ankle sprains in the second quarter. Running back Johnathan Franklin, who had 1,700 yards rushing this season, was held to 34 by the Bears.

"For us to be successful, we have to run the ball," Mora said.

Florence, a senior, had a front-row seat for Griffin's Heisman Trophy run. With Griffin off leading the Washington Redskins this season, Florence was plugged in with little apparent dropoff.

In fact, Florence broke Griffin's single-season passing record.

"If you're a Baylor fan, you got to see Robert Griffin III last year and you got to see Nick this year," Briles said. "Those are the first two courses. I don't know what dessert will be, but whoever follows Nick has a tough job."

Florence completed eight of 11 passes for 174 yards in the first half. That included two deep strikes where the only chance UCLA defensive backs had at finding Baylor receivers would have been to put an ad in the personals.

Terrance Williams had a 48-yard catch that set up Florence's eight-yard touchdown pass to Antwan Goodley for a 14-0 lead.

Tevin Reese had a 55-yard touchdown pass play for a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfotserlatimes

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