ROSE BOWL / WISCONSIN BADGERS 21, UCLA BRUINS 16 : Bruins Have One of Those (Awful) Days : UCLA: Turnovers, penalties and mistakes in general prove too much to overcome against Wisconsin.
Probably the most surprising thing about a Rose Bowl game in which UCLA fumbled the ball away five times and had a pass intercepted was that the Bruins actually had a chance to win in the last few seconds.
They didn’t win, of course. That would be asking too much from a UCLA team that spent the majority of Saturday’s 21-16 loss to Wisconsin, well, goofing things up.
Soon the various theories of explanation began surfacing.
“It seemed like someone put a hex on us or something,” said running back Daron Washington, who wins the award for most creative.
“Everything bad happened,” linebacker Nkosi Littleton said.
No one could argue with that. The way it looked, UCLA’s best offensive play was the untimely fumble and its best defensive play the always popular pass interference.
Other than that, it was a robust Bruin performance, except maybe for the nine times they backed up for 95 yards in penalties.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the head, not in the foot,” Coach Terry Donahue said.
Add one really bad decision by Bruin quarterback Wayne Cook in the waning seconds, and the mostly red-hued crowd of 101,237 got sent home happy, even that Badger fan wearing the red helmet with the box of Velveeta glued to the top.
Cook threw the ball 43 times, but made a huge mistake when he didn’t throw it once more.
Out of timeouts, UCLA took over on its 38-yard line with 1:43 left and moved to a first down at the Wisconsin 18. The clock showed 15 seconds remaining.
Cook chose to scramble instead of throwing the ball away to stop the clock and he was tackled at the 15, and the clock ran out before the Bruins could get off another play.
If Cook had been able to stop the clock with an incomplete pass, UCLA might have had enough time for two or three plays.
“My reaction was to run,” Cook said. “It was a mistake on my part.”
It certainly was, said Donahue, who stuck up for his quarterback nonetheless.
“He takes a lot of blame for a lot of things,” Donahue said. “But you can’t take a sack in that area. You can’t scramble if you can’t score the touchdown.”
Then there were the other pesky problems that kept cropping up. Things such as tackling.
For instance, what do the UCLA defense and a rolling stone have in common?
Neither one gathers any Moss.
The Bruins didn’t have much luck bringing down Badger tailback Brent Moss, whom they held to 158 yards in 36 carries. Credit Wisconsin’s mammoth offensive line, roughly the size of, say, Eau Claire.
“They play smash-mouth,” Bruin defensive tackle Sale Isaia said.
Actually, Isaia was one of the several frustrated Bruins--and Badgers for that matter--who ran afoul of the officials.
After one play, Isaia grabbed the facemask of a prone Badger and sort of dribbled his head on the field.
Isaia, who was assessed a personal foul, said he felt better afterward.
“Yeah, but it didn’t help out the team any,” he said.
There was also the quadruple ejection--a dubious Rose Bowl record--affecting Marvin Goodwin and Donovan Gallatin of UCLA and Lee DeRamus and Mark Montgomery of Wisconsin.
All four were tossed for their parts in a brief but spirited third-quarter skirmish along the UCLA sideline that wasn’t broken up until Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez sprinted across the field and began peeling players apart.
Goodwin and DeRamus wound up on the ground, arms and legs entwined. Goodwin, who is said to be considering turning pro, might consider the World Wrestling Federation.
“I was trying to protect Nkosi and the next thing I know, I felt someone hit me in the back,” Goodwin said. “Then DeRamus and I started wrestling.
“I guess the refs felt they lost control and had to throw somebody out. It’s just unfortunate I was the one.”
Maybe, but what was really unfortunate for UCLA were the turnovers.
“The turnovers by us, there goes the game right out the window,” Donahue said. “When I look back on this game, I’ll just be sick of the fact . . . six turnovers.”