UCLA Upends Houston

The UCLA Bruins faced another tough matchup as the No. 23 ranked Houston Cougars came to the Rose Bowl for a non-conference affair, but the Westwood squad earned an impressive 31-13 victory for their first win of the season.

“It was very exciting stuff, and hopefully it’s a precursor of what’s to come,” Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel states.

Houston took a 3-0 edge just under the eighth minute mark of the first quarter on a field goal, but UCLA responded with sophomore running back Johnathan Franklin’s 11-yard rushing touchdown at 5:54, and they never relinquished their lead thereafter.

Two additional rushing touchdowns, including one by quarterback Kevin Prince and the other by Franklin, made the score 21-3 by halftime in favor of the Bruins. Despite the early offensive power, two key defensive plays led the Bruins in gaining control of the contest. Junior safety Rahim Moore intercepted a Case Keenum pass for a total of 42 yards before junior linebacker Akeem Ayers had one of his own, but for 77 yards. Ayers’ interception began at UCLA’s two-yard line, so it came at a big moment in the game because it prevented Houston from scoring.

“We watched so much film throughout the week that we pretty much knew everything Houston was trying to do,” Moore says. “With that type of offense being so dynamic, we didn’t let it confuse us. Nobody gave us a chance. They said the defense couldn’t make plays. They were giving us all kinds of letter grades that were bad, and we took it personal.”

UCLA added another field goal and rushing touchdown by Franklin in the third quarter as Houston attempted to come back, but it was not enough on what turned out to be a great day in Pasadena for the Bruins on both ends of the field.

For the game, Franklin finished with a game-high 158 yards rushing on 26 carries while leading the Bruins with three touchdowns. The team struggled with their passing and receiving a bit, but it was their running and defensive efforts that sealed the win that came against a very good opponent.

Houston’s receiver James Cleveland collected 144 yards on six catches, including a 10-yard reception for a touchdown. The Cougars’ offense saw five different quarterbacks participate in the position due to many injuries and setbacks.

UCLA is now 1-2 (0-1 in the Pac-10). Their tough schedule continues as they next travel to the Lone Star State to face No. 7-ranked Texas Saturday, Sept. 25, at 12:30 p.m.

USC Prevails in Minnesota

No. 18-ranked USC stepped into Big-Ten land on Saturday, but that was no problem as the Trojans defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers by a score of 32-21 in Minneapolis. USC’s sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley threw for 192 yards on 17-of-26 completed attempts with two touchdowns, throwing two interceptions as well. Nonetheless, the Trojans earned the road victory, and that is what matters in the end in every game. Head coach Lane Kiffin admits that.

“That is the goal, always, to win every game we play,” he says.

The Trojans enjoyed another stellar night with their running game, with senior Allen Bradford piling up the most yards at 131 on 12 carries, including one touchdown and 56-yard run. Multiple tailbacks saw action, but junior Marc Tyler was the other to net a score. Senior receiver Ronald Johnson did his part with three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown, but freshman Robert Woods perhaps produced the most noise in special teams. Woods returned a kick-off 97 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. With Barkley struggling, Woods and the running game carried the load throughout.

“It was a huge momentum boost,” Barkley comments on Woods’ spark. “Everyone on our sidelines was going crazy. It got everyone in the game.”

Minnesota took two different leads in the game, in the first and third quarter, but USC fired back with scores at different ends of the field to maintain a close mark. The Trojans blazed up until the final minutes of the match with three unanswered TDs en route to capturing the triumph.

Kiffin and his No. 20 team remain undefeated, as they now begin preparing for Pac-10 play this Saturday, Sept. 25, at Washington State. Kick-off is at noon.

“We’re excited to be 3-0, but we obviously realize we have a long, long way to go and a lot of stuff to work on,” Kiffin affirms.