One streak of futility is over.
UCLA’s run defense stiffened Saturday in a way it had not since late in the 2016 season, holding No. 6 Oklahoma without a 100-yard rusher.
“We definitely played our butts off,” cornerback Darnay Holmes said.
At least one player, and sometimes two, had reached that threshold against the Bruins in 16 consecutive games before their 49-21 loss to the Sooners at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray came closest, running for 69 yards and two touchdowns in 10 carries. Tailback T.J. Pledger had 45 yards rushing for the Sooners, who finished with 179 yards rushing and averaged 5.1 yards per carry.
Oklahoma fans might point out that the Sooners were without tailback Rodney Anderson for most of the game after he suffered a knee injury on the final play of the first quarter. Anderson finished with 19 yards in six carries.
The last time UCLA had held an opponent without a 100-yard rusher was against Oregon State in November 2016.
UCLA’s biggest stop against the run came when lineman Osa Odighizuwa stuffed Trey Sermon for a two-yard loss on fourth and one late in the second quarter.
Odighizuwa was one of three Bruins defensive players returning from suspensions to make their season debut. Defensive back Mo Osling made three tackles and Moses Robinson-Carr played on the defensive line.
Caleb Wilson was one of the last Bruins to leave the field, in part because he had a lot of catching up to do.
The UCLA tight end lived in Norman for five years while his father, Chris, was Oklahoma’s defensive ends coach and special-teams coordinator. Chris Wilson also starred at linebacker for the Sooners and was a team captain, a distinction bestowed on his son before the game when he walked out to midfield for the coin toss.
“That was definitely an honor, just to be in front of him,” Caleb said, “because I cherish that guy, and just to be able to do something he did just means a lot to me.”
Caleb caught four passes for a team-high 92 yards, including a 65-yard catch that was the longest of his career. That thrilled a cheering section of 38 friends and family, including his parents.
“A lot of my family from Texas can’t come to my games” at the Rose Bowl, Caleb said, “so just everybody being able to see me in an awesome atmosphere, making big plays, that was really cool.”
Strike up the band
There was a familiar tune for the Bruins amid the din of hostile fans.
UCLA sent 50 members of its marching band to the game to serenade the team. The band members found themselves in enemy territory even before arriving in Oklahoma. While the band was waiting for a delayed flight Friday in Denver, one Sooners fan spotted its UCLA apparel and yelled “Boomer!” to prompt a “Sooner!” response from another fan nearby.
There was a lighter moment before the game when the Oklahoma band played UCLA’s fight song, prompting the Bruins band members to smile and clap along.