Bru­ins up­set No. 7 Longhorns, 34-12

Ma­ligned Bru­ins grab op­por­tu­nity by ’Horns

Los Angeles Times - - Front Page - BILL PLASCHKE from austin, texas

Johnathan Franklin (23) cel­e­brates a touch­down Satur­day with UCLA team­mates.

One of col­lege foot­ball’s most fa­mous chants was dumped on its 10-gal­lon lid Satur­day, the pur­vey­ors of a lit­tle steer cheer be­com­ing the un­wit­ting vic­tims of a gor­ing.

UCLA hooked them ’Horns.

I didn’t be­lieve it ei­ther, not un­til I was stand­ing on the Texas Me­mo­rial Sta­dium field and a bunch of sweat-soaked kids in heav­ing pads were wav­ing UCLA flags and danc­ing when five feet away — boom! — the Texas cheer­lead­ers fired a can­non.

No­body jumped. No­body even flinched. The smoke set­tled and the hoe­down con­tin­ued.

“It’s like we were in a

dream and we didn’t want it to end,” linebacker Pa­trick La­ri­more later said, his face still red and eyes still wide.

UCLA hooked them ‘Horns but good, un­leash­ing the sucker punch of the col­lege foot­ball sea­son in em­bar­rass­ing sev­en­thranked Texas, 34-12.

“No­body gave us a chance, this was an au­to­matic win for Texas, it was like we didn’t even ex­ist,” La­ri­more said. “So we turned up the fire.”

In 90-de­gree heat that was so op­pres­sive even the re­gal Texas band wore shorts, the Bru­ins blasted the Longhorns’ top-ranked rush­ing de­fense with 264 yards rush­ing, boiled their 30-point of­fense into one touch­down and hit them so hard that the mighty Longhorns sim­ply quit.

“As the game pro­gressed, you could see it in the way they got up slow, the way they were just jog­ging around,” safety Tony Dye said. “We could tell what was hap­pen­ing be­cause ear­lier this sea­son, we did the same thing.”

Oh yeah, that. The ir­rel­e­vant lit­tle Bru­ins — my words, two weeks ago — wob­bled into this col­lege foot­ball cathe­dral with wrin­kled shirts and muddy shoes.

They had lost two of their first three games. They had been shut out by Stan­ford in one of the worst losses in re­cent school his­tory. They ranked 105th in the nation in points scored and rush­ing de­fense. This sea­son was their big chance to leap into the gap left by pro­ba­tion­cuffed USC, and they had al­ready fallen on their faces.

They were so bad that af­ter the Stan­ford loss, when Coach Rick Neuheisel tried to give a pep talk to the fans, he was booed. There was talk of a two-win sea­son. There were won­ders about Neuheisel’s fu­ture. I ripped them from my first para­graph to my last word, and barely a hand­ful of Bru­ins fans dis­agreed.

And now, Texas? A team that lost in last sea­son’s na­tional cham­pi­onship game? A team that had won 16 con­sec­u­tive games at home? UCLA had not beaten a top-10 team on the road in a dozen years. Even the Bru­ins band didn’t make this trip.

“Watch­ing TV this week, no­body even brought up the game as a topic, no­body dis­cussed it, no­body both­ered pre­dict­ing it, it was such a sure thing,” La­ri­more said. “We heard all of that. We took all of that in.”

Five plays into the game, they started tak­ing it out. Mal­colm Wil­liams caught a ball and was lev­eled by Bru­ins safety Dal­ton Hil­liard. Fozzy Whittaker took a short pass in the open field and was caught and dropped by linebacker Akeem Ay­ers.

“They were taken aback by our tough­ness,” Dye said. “They thought we were just a bunch of laid-back Cal­i­for­nia kids, and we showed them dif­fer­ent.”

This de­fense has al­ways had great ath­letes, but they seemed to be fi­nally set free on schemes that showed it. Mean­while, the Bru­ins of­fense fi­nally re­al­ized that it had to put grind be­fore glitz.

Johnathan Franklin and Der­rick Cole­man pounded it out­side and in­side, quar­ter­back Kevin Prince was smart enough to avoid in­ter­cep­tions and tough enough to run for 85 yards, and Neuheisel fi­nally gave up on his love of the long ball.

No, he could never re­mem­ber win­ning a game with only 27 yards pass­ing, but didn’t his for­mer Bal­ti­more Ravens team win a Su­per Bowl that way?

“At one point, I looked up and said, ‘Who am I?’ “ Neuheisel said with a grin.

Five Texas turnovers and one game-chang­ing 80-yard drive at the start of the sec­ond half later, Neuheisel was a win­ner, his biggest since com­ing back to UCLA in 2009, a sig­na­ture vic­tory that could quiet the crit­ics for at least, I don’t know, a week?

Give him credit not let­ting the pro­gram cap­size in the early swells. But now he is charged with mak­ing sure this win is no ap­pari­tion. Af­ter a seem­ingly easy date with Washington State next week at the Rose Bowl, the Bru­ins travel to Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon on con­sec­u­tive week­ends. We’ll know more then.

“The world was look­ing at us like, ‘What’s the mat­ter with you?’ and call­ing us names,” Neuheisel said, sigh­ing. “I feel like maybe we’re get­ting closer to be­ing a pro­gram that can be counted on.’’

Af­ter pump­ing his fists to Bru­ins fans in the cor­ners of the sta­dium late Satur­day af­ter­noon, Neuheisel stood still on the field for a moment and talked into a cell­phone.

It was his wife, Su­san, who was in Los An­ge­les car­ing for their son, Jerry, who had suf­fered a con­cus­sion in a high school foot­ball game.

“He’s fine, they’re all fine, I can’t wait to get home,” he said.

At least for now, home will be a dif­fer­ent place than when he left. Hooked them Horns. Hooked us all.

HORN­ING IN:

Bren­dan Maloney

Johnathan Franklin bursts through Texas de­fense and into the end zone on an 11-yard touch­down run that gave UCLA a 20-3 lead in third quar­ter.

TAKER:

Eric Gay

UCLA’S Akeem Ay­ers (10) cel­e­brates with Sean West­gate af­ter in­ter­cept­ing a pass in sec­ond quar­ter, one of five Texas turnovers.

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