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UCLA has much to fix after 35-17 loss to Stanford

Bruins' loss ensures rematch with Cardinal next week in Pac-12 title game, this time at Palo Alto

November 24, 2012|By Chris Foster

UCLA has six days to get better.

A whole lot better.

The atmosphere was more than different in the Rose Bowl on Saturday. It was a complete role reversal.

The giddiness that followed a victory over USC a week earlier was replaced by long faces. Players piled into the student section after beating the Trojans. This time they trudged off the field with hangdog looks.

A dose of Stanford will do that.

The 11th-ranked Cardinal mauled the Bruins in a 35-17 victory Saturday. Stanford needed the victory to secure a spot in the Pac-12 title game as North Division champion . . . and it will once again face UCLA, which clinched the South Division title when it beat USC. The conference championship game will be played Friday at Stanford.

A week earlier, Stanford beat top-ranked Oregon in Eugene. Rolling through Pasadena was much easier.

Whether it will be a rerun Friday, with the Bruins again getting sand kicked in their face, depends on the next six days.

"In all aspects of our game, we weren't here today," linebacker Eric Kendricks said. "We're better than this. We know it. We didn't show it."

The answer, the Bruins said (to a man), was to get back in the film room.

"We got the film," cornerback Aaron Hester said. "We got six days."

The Bruins had seven days before this game. It didn't matter. Stanford (10-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) rolled up 221 yards rushing, with Stepfan Taylor getting 142. He scored two touchdowns.

UCLA (9-3, 6-3) was held to 73 yards rushing, 65 by Johnathan Franklin.

Everything else as merely stat-sheet fodder.

The Cardinal was tougher Saturday, and may be again Friday, though the Bruins were not ready to concede that.

"I don't think physicality was a problem," UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr said.

But, he admitted, "They gashed us."

UCLA players, from both sides of the ball, didn't think they got out-muscled. But neither could they explain what happened.

"I don't know if they are the best team, but they are pretty good," guard Jeff Baca said.

Still, he said, Stanford's defense did "nothing we hadn't seen before."

The Bruins just couldn't do much against it.

"I never like losing," UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley said. "I'm not a happy, fun guy even when we're punting."

Happy and fun never entered into the equation for UCLA.

Hundley was able to make plays on the run in the 38-28 victory over USC. He was merely on the run Saturday, getting sacked a season-high seven times. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown. He was also intercepted once, which led to Taylor's second touchdown, a one-yard run in the third quarter.

UCLA's Kenneth Walker fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Stanford's Usua Amanam returned it 11 yards for a touchdown and a 35-10 lead.

Game. Set. See you in Palo Alto.

"It's going to be 10 times harder than this game," Stanford Coach David Shaw said. "We're going to get their best shot."

The Bruins admitted they didn't give that Saturday. They just didn't know why.

Stanford needed this victory to get into the championship game. UCLA did not. Hundley said he could tell "the focus was not there."

Why not?

"I'm not sure," Hundley said. "It will be fixed."

There was a lot to tinker with.

UCLA had 135 yards in penalties. Baca was guilty three times, two on one play. Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter but was called for holding. Mix in dropped passes and missed tackles and the Bruins have a lengthy fix-it list.

Stanford, on the other hand, "has an offense that is pretty simple," Barr said. "They just keep running it and running it. It's tough when you prepare for something and they have success against you. It's discouraging."

Taylor would get stopped, then find a seam on the next play. He bolted 49 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and had a 40-yard run to set up his third-quarter touchdown.

"They have a perfect running game," Hester said. "That's what they do."

But, he said, "the beauty of it is, we get to play them again next week. We get to play a team that just beat us; any competitor in sports loves that."

As long as it doesn't happen again.

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