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UCLA can't handle Stanford, 24-10

Bruins' offense is shut down by Cardinal, which turns two Brett Hundley interceptions into touchdowns. Oregon is up next.

October 19, 2013|By Chris Foster

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PALO ALTO — The body language said everything.

Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney raced to the sideline after his last touchdown and hopped into the arms of Coach David Shaw. Across the way, UCLA defensive end Ellis McCarthy trudged off, hands on his hips, past Coach Jim Mora.

The visual message was clear.

Not yet, UCLA. Close, maybe, but not yet.

BOX SCORE: Stanford 24, UCLA 10

The Bruins left Stanford Stadium for their 24-hour decompression before filing away Saturday's game. They'll sift through the what-might-have-beens that came from Stanford's 24-10 victory. It was a reminder that UCLA was not, for the moment, among the elite -- nationally, in the Pac-12 and, for that matter, in California.

"We're going to look at this one, how we came in thinking there was no way we were going to lose," linebacker Jordan Zumwalt said. "We came in all high-strung, all high and mighty. We were going to come in and kick some butt."

And …

"This one is definitely going to haunt me," Zumwalt said. "We have the 24-hour rule, but if there was a game I wanted to win, more than any of them, this was it. We got to move on."

That won't be easy.

The Bruins go from the Farm, where their offense was plowed under by Stanford, to the Nike Factory, where they will face second-ranked Oregon.

But the Bruins' 24-hour rule precludes them from pondering that too much. There was still a lot to hash out from Saturday.

Stanford (6-1 overall, 4-1 in Pac-12 play) was coming off a disappointing loss to Utah. The Cardinal took it out on the Bruins (5-1, 2-1). Call it shock treatment — for UCLA.

The Bruins ascended to the top 10 this week and talked about the loud entrance into the national championship discussion they could make by beating 13th-ranked Stanford, the defending Pac-12 champion.

"I'm not one to think any one game defines you, whether you arrived or are not very good." Mora said. "I think it's our body of work so far, and our body of work is pretty good."

Except when it involves Stanford, which has beaten the Bruins three times in the last 10 months, including the Pac-12 championship game last December.

"These are games you want to win so badly, so badly," quarterback Brett Hundley said.

Instead the offense played so badly, so badly.

The Stanford offense was rudimentary, and effective. Gaffney churned out 171 yards, including touchdown runs of one and four yards. That last came with 1 minute 42 seconds left to clinch the victory.

The Cardinal had the ball 15 more minutes than UCLA, the equivalent of an entire quarter.

It was the Cardinal defense that did the damage. The Bruins came into the game averaging 45 points. They managed one touchdown drive.

Instead of driving UCLA down the field, Hundley spent the day running for his own safety. He was sacked four times and was used like a piñata on numerous other occasions.

Combine the loss of two offensive linemen and a handful of ill-timed false starts, and what had been a Corvette handled like a beat-up Chevy.

"We just couldn't get that car out of the starting gate," offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. "We had it gassed up and stepped on the gas, but we couldn't get moving. That's how we are as an offense. We're not three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust."

Stanford led, 3-0, at the half. But the Bruins, who had outscored opponents, 71-0, in the third quarter this season, were outscored 14-3 in the quarter, which included a go-ahead 30-yard, one-handed touchdown catch by Kodi Whitfield between two UCLA defenders.

"It's a tempo-based offense," Hundley said. "Once you get out of sync, it's tough to make plays.

Hundley completed 24 of 39 passes, but for only 192 yards.

UCLA finished with only 266 yards of offense. Hundley had two passes intercepted. Both set up Gaffney touchdown runs.

"We were in it until the last touchdown," Mora said.

They were in the game. They were in the top 10. They were in the national championship race.

And now?

"We live day-to-day, play-to-play," Mora said. "We're not really a big-picture team. We let other people worry about that. We'll get off this one in the next 24 hours and get on to next one."

Which will be second-ranked Oregon.

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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