Jalen Hurts faked the handoff before cutting to his left and finding plenty of open Rose Bowl turf in front of him. The quarterback sprinted down the sideline before finally being pushed out of bounds, 52 yards from where he started.
Oklahoma was off and running from its first offensive play Saturday evening and never slowed down until the outcome was assured. The fifth-ranked Sooners lowered the boom on a thoroughly outclassed UCLA, delivering a 48-14 beatdown that was stunning only in its efficiency and put the Bruins into further despair.
UCLA is 0-3 for a second consecutive season under coach Chip Kelly, but this doesn’t feel so much like a repeat as a regression. The team is averaging just 14 points this season for a purported offensive genius whose team bears no resemblance to his Duck dynasty at Oregon.
“I think it’s a consistency thing,” said Kelly, who became the first UCLA coach to start back-to-back seasons with three consecutive losses since Harry Trotter in 1920 and 1921.
The Bruins have been universally bad, struggling to cover receivers or sustain drives. Their fans even suffered a defeat of sorts on a sweltering day with a game-time temperature of 95 degrees, appearing to be slightly outnumbered by their Oklahoma counterparts among the announced crowd of 52,578. The UCLA faithful made their feelings known in the seconds before halftime, booing as the teams departed the field.
“It’s going to sting tonight,” Bruins running back Demetric Felton said.
Kelly waved the white flag early in the fourth quarter when he sent kicker J.J. Molson onto the field with his team facing fourth down at Oklahoma’s 18-yard line while trailing by 27 points. Molson pushed his attempt wide right.
The Bruins had pledged improvement after holding a players-only meeting last week but looked largely the same while suffering a fourth consecutive loss going back to last season.
Where to start with all the issues that have left their Bruins in ruins?
UCLA’s defense gave up 9.5 yards per play Saturday, when Oklahoma (3-0) piled up 434 yards … by halftime. The Sooners held a 34-7 lead by that point and didn’t punt until midway through the third quarter. Oklahoma finished with 611 yards of offense, failing to pile up significantly more yardage primarily because the Bruins did a better job of keeping the Sooners off the field after halftime thanks to a 14-play drive that consumed nearly half of the third quarter.
“There was a lot of things that you could see in the first half that was on us,” UCLA defensive lineman Atonio Mafi said, “not really what they were doing but missed assignments and not flying to the ball and missed tackles.”
Hurts became the first Sooner to pass for more than 200 yards and rush for more than 100 yards before halftime. He finished with 289 yards passing and three touchdowns as well as 150 yards rushing and another touchdown despite leaving before Oklahoma’s final two drives. Kelly said Hurts was as good as any quarterback he had faced, comparing him to Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
“He has an answer with his feet,” Kelly said of Hurts, “and then he has an answer with his arm.”
Hurts’ touchdown run was typical of the ease with which the Sooners scored. He needed three yards on fourth down on Oklahoma’s opening drive and got 30 yards on a quarterback draw in which he waited a moment before running untouched up the middle and into the end zone.
The Bruins compounded their coverage problems with missed tackles and soft play, safety Quentin Lake getting stiff-armed by Trey Sermon during a 32-yard run. There were also the usual silly mistakes, including an offsides penalty that negated a sack and a penalty for having too many men on the field during an extra point.
“Good teams don’t do that,” Kelly said of the sack that didn’t count.
UCLA’s running game managed 110 yards, reaching triple digits for the first time this season, but it was just a footnote amid the lopsided result. Felton ran for 42 of his 65 yards on one play in the third quarter and the Bruins averaged just three yards per carry. Joshua Kelley continued to slowly round into form after a lengthy layoff from a knee injury, gaining 51 yards in 18 carries.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson assembled another mixed-bag game, making some big plays but also a handful of mistakes. He completed 15 of 26 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns but also mishandled a snap and had two passes intercepted, including one he threw into triple coverage.
Some might say the Bruins set themselves up for ridicule the day before the game when their official football Twitter account sent out a graphic showing cornerback Darnay Holmes in a cape standing over a skull in a forest.
One observer commented that it was a UCLA player mourning the loss of the football program, prompting another to add the caption: “UCLA Football RIP 1919-2019.”
“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” Kelly said, “so we don’t feel sorry for ourselves and we don’t make excuses and we don’t let anyone make excuses for us. We have to grow and get better.”