Whatever hopes Colorado had of pulling off a major upset of 17th-ranked UCLA on Saturday night were snuffed out by Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley, who ran and passed UCLA to a 45-23 Pac-12 Conference victory at the Rose Bowl.
The Buffaloes, 24-point underdogs, dominated the first 14 minutes, racking up 111 total yards on their first two possessions, forcing the Bruins to go three and out and punt on their first two possessions and taking a 3-0 lead on Will Oliver’s 24-yard field goal with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.
But UCLA went into quick-strike mode, Hundley hitting Devin Fuller for a 76-yard touchdown, the Bruins’ longest scoring pass of the season, to give UCLA a 7-3 lead with 19 seconds left in the first quarter, and the Bruins never looked back.
The long scoring play sparked a huge game for Hundley, with the sophomore completing 19 of 24 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns while running for another 72 yards and two touchdowns in 11 carries to help UCLA (6-2 overall, 3-2 in conference) rebound from losses to Stanford and Oregon.
Colorado freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau showed excellent poise under heavy pressure, completing 25 of 36 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown, but the Buffaloes (3-5, 0-5) failed to turn several long drives into touchdowns and lost their 13th consecutive conference game.
Liufau’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson gave Colorado a 10-7 lead with 11:04 left in the second quarter, but UCLA scored two touchdowns in the next minute and a half to open a comfortable 21-10 lead.
“The key was the big one he hit early,” UCLA Coach Jim Mora said of Hundley’s first touchdown pass. “That got his confidence back and got us the momentum back. ... We kind of struggled early, but to put up 45 points and get a win, you have to be happy with that.”
UCLA 45, Colorado 23 (3:36 left in fourth quarter)
The Bruins recovered an onside kick and drove 47 yards in five plays, Devin Fuller taking a backward pass from Brett Hundley and running eight yards for a touchdown.
Damien Thigpen set up the score with a 27-yard run.
UCLA 38, Colorado 23 (6:17 left in fourth quarter)
A pair of roughing-the-quarterback penalties on UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr aided Colorado’s nine-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Will Oliver’s 37-yard field goal.
The Bruins have been penalized 11 times for 122 yards in the game.
UCLA 38, Colorado 20 (9:12 left in fourth quarter)
A 36-yard pass play from Brett Hundley to Shaq Evans, who caught a 10-yard toss near midfield and raced another for 26 yards to the Colorado 24-yard line, set up a 45-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn.
UCLA 35, Colorado 13 (1:24 left in third quarter)
Damien Thigpen capped a five-play, 48-yard drive with his first rushing touchdown of the season on a five-yard run.
Quarterback Brett Hundley dumped a short screen pass to Paul Perkins, who turned the play into a 26-yard gain, to set up the scoring run.
Hundley has completed 15 of 19 passes for 237 yards.
UCLA 28, Colorado 13 (10:53 left in third quarter)
The Bruins' offensive line continues to dominate the Buffaloes as it did in the second quarter, giving quarterback Brett Hundley plenty of time to pass and opening up holes for several big runs.
After Devin Fuller returned the second-half kickoff 30 yards, Hundley completed passes to Jordan Payton for 14 yards and to Grayson Mazzone for 20 yards before rushing for 14 yards on a third-and-10 play to give UCLA a first-and-goal at the five-yard line.
Two plays later, Hundley kept on a one-yard touchdown run.
UCLA 21, Colorado 13 (1:16 left in second quarter)
A roughing-the-kicker penalty on UCLA’s Myles Jack, who was too aggressive in his attempt to block Darragh O’Neill’s punt, gave Colorado a first down on the Bruins 39-yard line, and the Buffaloes capitalized, scoring on Will Oliver’s 47-yard field goal.
UCLA 21, Colorado 10 (6:25 left in second quarter)
The rout that most expected could be on.
The Bruins took advantage of a turnover deep in Colorado territory to score another touchdown, with quarterback Brett Hundley hitting Devin Fuller for six yards on a crossing pattern in the end zone.
The touchdown was set up by Jayon Brown, whose hit on Colorado’s Ryan Severson forced a fumble on a kickoff that Kenny Orjioke recovered.
UCLA 14, Colorado 10 (7:49 left in second quarter)
Quarterback Brett Hundley was the Bruins star on an eight-play, 61-yard drive.
He ran 11 yards untouched into the end zone on a quarterback draw to put UCLA back on top.
Hundley had three big plays on the drive, breaking two tackles on a 15-yard scramble, hitting Shaq Evans on a 12-yard pass play and Devin Fuller on a 17-yard pass play.
Colorado 10, UCLA 7 (11:04 left in second quarter)
Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau converted two big third-down passes, a 10-yard completion to Paul Richardson and a 38-yard completion to Tony Jones to the Bruins seven-yard line, to set up his seven-yard touchdown pass to Richardson in the corner of the end zone to give Colorado the lead.
The scoring play, on which Richardson outjumped UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau, capped a 10-play, 73-yard drive.
UCLA 7, Colorado 3 (10 seconds left in first quarter)
The Buffaloes, 24-point underdogs entering the game, dominated the first quarter, rolling up 111 yards on their first two possessions to prevent the Bruins from gaining a first down on their first two possessions and taking a 3-0 lead on Will Oliver’s 24-yard field goal with 56 seconds left in the period.
But from his 24-yard line, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley found Devin Fuller open down the middle for a 76-yard touchdown pass play, the Bruins’ longest scoring pass of the season, to put UCLA in front with 10 seconds left in the quarter.
UCLA seems to have added linebacker Eric Kendricks to the list of players it will be without against Colorado this afternoon in the Rose Bowl.
Kendricks suffered a shoulder injury against Oregon last week. He also has a sore back and sore ankle, and needed a painkiller to play against the Ducks.
UCLA also is without tackles Simon Goines (knee) and Connor McDermott (shoulder). Running back/kick returner Steven Manfro also will not play.
Running back Jordon James, who has not played since injuring an ankle on Oct. 3, is in uniform and expected to play. His availability has been a game-time decision this week.