Heading into Saturday night’s contest in the Rose Bowl, the offenses of the Arizona Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins were the storyline.
But in the end, the defenses dominated the game while the offenses faltered, especially the Arizona passing game, as No. 22 UCLA took down the No. 12 Wildcats 17-7.
Arizona’s usually-stellar group of receivers struggled to hang onto the ball throughout the game, especially DaVonte’ Neal. All of those drops led to Wildcats’ quarterback Anu Solomon, who finished the game just 18 of 48 for 175 passing yards.
Arizona got its points early on a nice pass from Solomon to Cayleb Jones in the back corner of the endzone to put the Cats up 7-0 just two and a half minutes into the game. The drive was kept alive twice by UCLA linebacker Myles Jack on two separate penalties. The Bruins looked undisciplined the entire game, committing 11 penalties for 118 yards on the night.
The early Solomon-to-Jones touchdown made it look like it was going to be another productive night for the Zona offense, but that drive was pretty much all they would be able to muster.
The Bruins were fighting for their Pac-12 South lives on Saturday, and after that touchdown drive, they stepped up to the plate in a big way. UCLA’s defense held Arizona to just 255 total yards, which is a new low during the Rich Rodriguez-era in Tucson. The previous low was the last time Arizona visited Pasadena to face the Bruins.
Bruins’ quarterback Brett Hundley was the entire Bruin offense on Saturday night. Not only did he throw for 189 yards and a touchdown, but the junior from Chandler, AZ also rushed for 131 yards on 24 attempts, picking up crucial first downs time and time again.
Hundley’s 70-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Payton halfway through the third quarter gave UCLA a 17-7 lead. The Wildcats had a chance to cut that lead back to one score on the ensuing drive, but Casey Skowron missed a 36-yard attempt. He also had a field goal blocked in the final minutes of the game thanks, to some horrendous blocking up front.
Arizona’s blocking up front was a problem throughout the game. UCLA was able to generate pressure on Anu Solomon over and over, rattling the freshman quarterback, and even ripped his jersey on one play. Solomon was forced to change numbers from No. 12 to No. 18 for the remainder of the game thanks to the wardrobe malfunction.
The targeting rule came into play late in the second quarter. Arizona safety Jourdon Grandon was ejected on a somewhat-questionable call as he put his helmet into the back of a UCLA player as he was going down to the ground. Later in the game, Wildcat receiver Austin Hill was hit in the head, and nothing was called. Hill missed the rest of the game due to a likely concussion.
Rising star Scooby Wright III had another career night. The sophomore linebacker racked up 19 tackles for the Wildcats, 4.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks. Wright is now fourth in the NCAA in total tackles per game (12.1), and is second in the nation in both tackles for loss (2.3) and sacks (1.5) per game.
With their win, the Bruins are right back in the mix in the Pac-12 South. UCLA is now 4-2 in conference play, while Arizona is 3-2. They are joined at two losses by USC and Utah, with Arizona State out front at 5-1. The Pac-12 South is just a jumbled mess right now, and this UCLA win made it even worse.
Next week, Arizona hosts the Colorado Buffaloes for homecoming, while UCLA travels to Washington to take on the Huskies.
*Section Photo and Featured Photo (above) credit to Stephen Dunn, Getty Images.