UCLA found a high-profile running back it could stop … finally.
Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers came into the game ranked 14th in rushing in the nation, averaging 105.7 yards per game. He also had a productive history against the Bruins, with 112 yards rushing last season and 144 in 2008.
But the Bruins, who have been trampled by some of the best this season, held Rodgers to 67 yards in 14 attempts in their 17-14 victory Saturday.
"We knew we were a better defense than we have showed," linebacker Akeem Ayers said. "We spent the week getting ready to show that."
Ayers was in Rodgers' face most of the game. He finished with six tackles. When Ayers wasn't hawking Rodgers, linebacker Sean Westgate was. He had eight tackles. Reserve strong safety Dietrich Riley got into the act, dislodging Rodgers' helmet on one play.
"I take my hat off to the defense," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "I thought they were spectacular. It was as good as they've played since the Texas game."
Zumwalt a hit
Freshman linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, making his first start, had a team-high nine tackles, seven unassisted. Zumwalt also had a key sack that took Oregon State out of field-goal range.
The Beavers were at the UCLA 19 late in the first half when Zumwalt chased down quarterback Ryan Katz and threw him for a 13-yard loss.
On the other hand, Zumwalt also had a personal-foul penalty that advanced Oregon State's second touchdown drive.
Oregon State's travel roster had 18 players from Southern California, including Katz (Santa Monica High).
It will be the last chance for some to play in front of family and friends. The Pacific 12 Conference begins play in 2011, with Colorado and Utah joining the conference. Oregon State is not scheduled to return to the Los Angeles area until 2012, to play UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The Beavers do not play USC the next two seasons.
"It's kind of sad," Katz said. "We have a lot of Southern California guys on the team and back to play in front of family and friends is a big deal."
Katz did well in his homecoming Saturday. He completed 18 of 26 passes for 164 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Joe Halahuni. Katz also had a key block that sprung Markus Wheaton loose on a 22-yard touchdown run on a reverse.
Getting his kicks
Kai Forbath's only other opportunity at a game-winning field goal ended in disaster. His 20-yard try at the end of the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl hit a lineman in the back.
He made a 51-yard kick for the victory Saturday.
His miss on a 46-yard try with 1 minute 17 seconds left was because of "a little problem with the snap and hold. But I can't blame them for that miss. I just stuttered a little because the hold wasn't there."