UCLA vs. Colorado five greatest games: Bruins were rarely Buffaloed

UCLA punt returner Ishmael Adams, left, breaks away for short gain from Colorado.
UCLA punt returner Ishmael Adams, left, breaks away for a short gain during the Bruins’ win over Colorado in October 2014.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
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With USC and UCLA playing their final season in the Pac-12, The Times is revisiting the top five games in the history of each series. This week: UCLA-Colorado.


Oct. 25, 2014: No. 25 UCLA 40, Colorado 37 (2 OT)

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley runs into the end zone ahead of Colorado defensive back Chidobe Awuzie.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley runs into the end zone ahead of Colorado defensive back Chidobe Awuzie to score the winning touchdown on Oct. 25, 2014.
(Justin Edmonds / Getty Images)

This was a lot harder than it needed to be. Colorado was winless in Pac-12 play and had gone just 4-27 in conference games since moving over from the Big 12 in 2011. UCLA held leads of 17-0 and 31-14. And still, the Bruins needed two overtimes to prevail.


The squeamishness started after the Buffaloes outscored UCLA, 17-0, in the fourth quarter. After each team kicked a field goal in the first overtime, Colorado added another one to take the lead in the second overtime.

That’s when UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley followed a 17-yard run with an eight-yard touchdown burst through a large opening to give his team the triumph.

This was the second consecutive victory for the Bruins as part of a five-game winning streak that would see them rise to No. 8 before falling to Stanford and ending the season with a 40-35 victory over Kansas State in the Alamo Bowl.

Ethan Garbers showcased his ability to pass and run in a win over Stanford, but coach Chip Kelly isn’t about to dub him UCLA’s starting quarterback.

Oct. 23, 2023


Sept. 6, 2003: No. 24 Colorado 16, UCLA 14

UCLA defensive end Dave Ball sacks Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt during the fourth quarter at Folsom Field.
UCLA defensive end Dave Ball sacks Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt during the fourth quarter at Folsom Field on Sept. 6, 2003.
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

Karl Dorrell’s coaching debut at his alma mater gave Bruins fans a taste of what was to come: conservative offense, untimely mistakes and disappointment. Quarterback Matt Moore was knocked out of the game with a knee injury late in the first quarter, giving way to Drew Olson.


Justin Medlock missed a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter, a pivotal play in a tight game.

Finally, UCLA’s defense couldn’t make the plays it needed while holding a 14-10 lead with five minutes left in the game. Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt drove his team 63 yards in less than three minutes during a drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown pass to Joe Klopfenstein.

Dorrell’s offense could not muster a counter over the final 2 minutes 15 seconds, with Olson’s final four passes falling incomplete.

Dorrell would compile a 35-27 record at UCLA, good enough for Colorado to hire him before the 2020 season. That stint didn’t go nearly as well, Dorrell going 8-15 with the Buffaloes from 2020-22.


Oct. 31, 2015: No. 24 UCLA 35, Colorado 31

UCLA running back Soso Jamabo carries the ball against Colorado on Oct. 31, 2015.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)


This was one of those games where you threw out the numbers … and the aesthetics.

Colorado piled up 554 yards of offense while running 114 plays and holding onto the ball for 41 minutes 5 seconds in a 60-minute game. Colorado also lost.

A UCLA defense that had bled yardage for most of the game, not to mention players to injury, finally started making stops. Bruins running back Soso Jamabo gave his team the lead with a two-yard touchdown run and then turned things over to the defense.

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley harassed Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau into an inaccurate throw on fourth down to end one drive and defensive back Nate Meadors intercepted a pass with 51 seconds left to finish things off.

UCLA quarterback Ethan Garbers has been stuck in a backup role most of his career, but he thrived when given the chance to start at Stanford on Saturday.

Oct. 22, 2023


Sept. 30, 2017: UCLA 27, Colorado 23

UCLA receiver Jordan Lasley, right, can't haul in pass in front of Colorado defensive back Isaiah Oliver.
UCLA receiver Jordan Lasley, right, can’t haul in pass in front of Colorado defensive back Isaiah Oliver on Sept. 30, 2017.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

There was no sugarcoating UCLA’s defense in coach Jim Mora’s final season. Anyone remember that the Bruins’ epic comeback against Texas A&M was necessitated by their surrendering 44 points in less than three quarters? Or that UCLA gave up 48 points against Memphis, only for that to feel like the good old days a week later when the Bruins surrendered 58 against Stanford?


That was the backdrop in which UCLA finally played some defense against Colorado, getting a final stop to preserve the victory when Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez’s final pass fell incomplete through the back of the end zone.

Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen contributed 372 yards passing and one touchdown to go with one interception to help his team nudge itself above .500 in a season that would end with Chip Kelly on his way to Westwood.


Oct. 2, 1982: No. 9 UCLA 34, Colorado 6

UCLA vs. Colorado in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 3, 1982.
(Los Angeles Times)

UCLA found a new identity to go with its new digs in its first season calling the Rose Bowl home: The Bruins started chucking the ball around the field for the first time under coach Terry Donahue, who had failed to take his team to the Rose Bowl game in his first six seasons.

This new-look UCLA was dubbed UCLAir and Uncork Lots of Aerials, among other nicknames. The shift in philosophy was largely the result of a roster pairing senior quarterback Tom Ramsey with the perfect blend of receivers to move the ball through the air. Colorado was one of the early casualties of this new approach during the Bruins’ first trip to Boulder.


A week after he had rallied UCLA from a 21-0 deficit during a 31-27 victory over Michigan, Ramsey enjoyed what amounted to a breather against the Buffaloes. The quarterback completed 16 of 24 passes for 280 yards, moving him into the No. 1 spot nationally in pass efficiency.

The Bruins went on to win the Pac-10 and make their first Rose Bowl appearance under Donahue, beating Michigan in a rematch.