Before its exuberant fans tore down the goalposts Saturday, Oregon State stripped away a little bit more of UCLA's prestige.
The Beavers all but eliminated the Bruins from the Rose Bowl race, rallying for an 18-17 victory in front of a rain-soaked crowd of 21,510 at Parker Stadium.
After its second consecutive loss dropped UCLA to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference, Coach Terry Donahue said that the Bruins were "obviously in a rebuilding-type process."
Wasn't it only a year ago that UCLA was ranked No. 1?
"We did not expect to be 3-4," Donahue said. "Obviously, the players and coaches and myself are really disappointed with our record and our performance to date. Right now, our season's not good."
It got a lot worse with 1 minute 20 seconds left Saturday, when sophomore guard Scott Spalding was called for holding as the Bruins attempted to position Alfredo Velasco for a game-winning field goal.
UCLA, which trailed throughout the game, rallied behind reserve quarterback Jim Bonds to open a 17-10 lead with 7:47 left, only to have Oregon State drive down the field to score and make it 18-17.
Bonds rallied the Bruins again, moving them to the Beavers' 28-yard line, where tailback Kevin Williams gained two yards through the middle.
But, instead of facing third-and-four at that point, UCLA faced second-and-16 because Spalding was called for holding.
"We had a couple of chances there to overcome the call and to do it anyway, but we were unable to do it," Donahue said.
Bonds overthrew tight end Randy Austin on second down, then was belted by defensive end Pellom McDaniels and cornerback Torey Overstreet on third down. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground, an incomplete pass.
Velasco was called upon for a 55-yard field-goal attempt, which fell short of the soon-to-be uprooted south goalpost.
"The (holding) penalty was the whole ballgame," Oregon State Coach Dave Kragthorpe said. "Without it, he makes the kick."
Spalding, fighting back tears, declined to comment.
The call "influenced the game dramatically," said Donahue, who seemed to question the timing of it.
"There's holding that goes on every single play," said Donahue, a former Bruin defensive lineman. "If you get too sloppy with your hands and too free with your hands, they're going to call it.
"I'm assuming he got too sloppy or free with his hands."
If the officials hadn't made the call, Donahue said, "we'd be talking about a hell of a UCLA comeback."
Forgotten, perhaps, would be Oregon State's surprisingly easy drive to the game-winning points.
A fumble by quarterback Matt Booher, who had the ball knocked out of his hands by linebacker Craig Davis, set up a 19-yard drive by UCLA that resulted in a two-yard touchdown run by Williams.
Williams swept around the left end and trotted into the end zone after a block by fullback Mark Estwick cut down linebacker Todd McKinney, who was knocked head over heels and had to be helped off the field.
Ahead at that point, 15-10, the Bruins went for two points and Bonds rifled a pass to tight end Corwin Anthony in the right corner of the end zone.
But, as has been the case so often this season, the Bruins were not up to the task that awaited them in the game's most crucial moments.
Booher, who completed 13 of 24 passes for 145 yards and directed an offense that generated 284 total yards to UCLA's 266, was perfect on his last five passes, including a 16-yard pass to Jason Kent on third-and-eight at Oregon State's 35-yard line, which got the winning drive moving.
UCLA blitzed when the Beavers faced second-and-seven at the Bruins' 24, but Oregon State picked it up and Kent, facing man-to-man coverage, worked himself free behind cornerback Carlton Gray and Booher found him.
"He just beat me," Gray said of Kent. "There's really no excuse. Sometimes it happens."
The 23-yard pass put the Beavers at the one-yard line.
Pat Chaffey, who ran for a career-high 118 yards and two touchdowns in 27 carries, scored on the next play to make it 17-16.
"They went right through us and I can't tell you why," Donahue said of the Beavers' 67-yard game-winning drive. "It's kind of the nature of our football team this year.
"When we've had to play great defense to stop them, we've been unable to, and when we've had to play great offense to score, we've been unable to."
The worst, though, was yet to come for the Bruins.
On the two-point conversion attempt that followed, Reggie Pitchford drifted out of the backfield and no Bruin defender picked him up.
Booher lofted the ball to him in the end zone.
Oregon State aligned two wideouts to the left and they slanted inside, clearing the left flat for Pitchford.
"We didn't get lined up in time," Donahue said. "It looked like our defensive backs were just really slow getting lined up on the overloaded play and we never got it covered properly.
"The guy was so wide open, it was a joke."
It was no joke that, when the gun sounded 3 1/2 minutes later, Oregon State had improved to 3-3-1, its best record at this stage of the season since 1968.
"I consider this the greatest win since I've been at OSU," said Kragthorpe, who arrived from Idaho State in 1985.
The game began under dark skies and in a heavy downpour and Oregon State took advantage of the first of four first-quarter turnovers, opening an early 7-0 lead after nose tackle Esera Tuaolo ripped through the Bruin line and knocked the ball loose from quarterback Bret Johnson.
Defensive tackle Mike Maggiore recovered at UCLA's 18-yard line and, two plays later, Chaffey scored his first touchdown on a 10-yard run, bursting through the right side and veering toward the outside.
Velasco was wide to the right on a 40-yard field-goal attempt midway through the quarter, but a fumble recovery by Dion Lambert, who fell on the ball after Davis jarred it loose from tailback Jerrell Waddell, set up a 26-yard field goal by UCLA's senior kicker only a few minutes later.
UCLA produced only another field goal through the first 30 minutes and, with the Bruins trailing at halftime, 10-6, Donahue lifted Johnson, who completed only four of 15 pass attempts, in favor of Bonds.
"I thought we were a better team in the second half with Jim Bonds at quarterback," Donahue said.
Bonds completed seven of 14 passes for 99 yards and, in the Bruins' first possession of the second half, drove them to another field goal. Velasco's 20-yard kick with 9:18 left in the third quarter cut UCLA's deficit to 10-9.
Toward the end, Bonds positioned the Bruins to win, completing a 28-yard pass to Reggie Moore, an 18-yard pass to Mike Farr and driving UCLA to within 26 yards of the Oregon State goal line.
"We were in field-goal position," Bonds said of the Bruins' last possession. "We were just trying to get the ball to the middle and, hopefully, bust through and get a touchdown out of it."
Or, at worst, a reasonable game-winning try by Velasco.
But the holding call against Spalding, Bonds said wistfully, "forced us to throw when we already had three points on the board."
Or thought they did, anyway.