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UCLA feeling good after 45-23 rout of Colorado

Bruins are happy to get a win, even against lowly Buffaloes, following two consecutive Pac-12 losses but know execution needs to improve.

November 02, 2013|By Chris Foster

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Tougher days, with tougher opponents, are ahead for UCLA.

This, though, was a feel-good moment, like getting a participation trophy.

What remains to be seen is whether the Bruins' 45-23 victory over Colorado in the Rose Bowl on Saturday was a re-emergence or placebo.

PHOTOS: UCLA defeats Colorado, 45-23

UCLA (6-2 overall, 3-2 in Pac-12) got a much needed victory after taking it on the chin in losing to No. 2 Oregon and No. 6 Stanford the past two weeks.

Sure, it came against the Buffaloes (3-5, 0-5). But the Bruins will take the victory and let the chips fall where they may.

"The day I can't enjoy a win, then it's time to get out of this thing," Coach Jim Mora said. "I want to enjoy every day of this."

Still, this was not a smooth performance and everyone with an agenda can support their case.

For those with the glass half full, the Bruins rebounded from consecutive losses with a 22-point victory.

For those with the glass half empty, it came against a team that has now lost 13 consecutive Pac-12 games.

"Was the effort good? Yes," Mora said. "Was the execution good? No. I think it is important to separate effort and execution. Our guys are always hungry. But we have to execute better."

Effort was enough against Colorado.

Brett Hundley, coming off two poor weeks, threw for 273 yards. He tossed two touchdown passes and ran for two other scores.

The Bruins seemed to have determined that throwing deep was not an NCAA violation. They took a handful of shots down field, with Hundley throwing a 76-yard touchdown pass to Devin Fuller for a 7-3 UCLA lead.

"I have no idea if that made Brett feel better, but it made me feel better," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "It was like, 'Phew.' "

Fuller scored three touchdowns, two receiving and one running. The Bruins finished with 512 yards, though their running game was mostly generated by Hundley, who had 72 yards rushing.

"I feel like this team can respond well, no matter what we go through," Hundley said. "No matter who we play, we can go out and do our best, which is play football,."

Playing better football would be advisable the next four weeks.

The Bruins' path to success is obvious. They win the rest of their games (against Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC), they win the Pac-12 South Division. With it would come a third consecutive trip to the conference championship game, where they more than likely will get another crack at Oregon or Stanford.

"We don't have any more room for room for error," linebacker Isaako Savaiinaea said. "We need to win games."

UCLA is tied with Arizona and USC for second place in the South Division, a game behind Arizona State.

"We can't take anyone lightly," Hundley said. "At this point, as a team, we can't do that, not with the situation we put ourselves in."

Arizona State and UCLA play on Nov. 23.

"We control our own destiny now, but we have to win to get where we want to go," Hundley said.

The Bruins won Saturday, though it was more like a free sample.

How well UCLA played was open for debate. The Bruins labored in the first half and went to the locker room with a 21-13 lead.

Hundley completed 10 of 11 passes for 161 yards in the first half. Hundley's 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave UCLA a 14-10 lead. The Bruins never trailed again.

After Jayon Brown recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Hundley threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Fuller for a 21-10 lead.

But there were reasons for concern as well.

Colorado had the ball for 36 minutes and finished with 381 yards. The Bruins had 122 yards in penalties.

Mora admitted that he felt a "hangover" from the previous two weeks. He also said he felt the enthusiasm returned in the second half.

"We have to grow from this," Mora said. "We had five championship games left. That's one down."

The easiest one.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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