Holy mother of football, the Bruins just MESSED with Texas. While basking in the glory of victory under the Texas sun on Saturday afternoon I was swiftly reminded (as I frequently am) how proud and thankful I am to be a Bruin. Who would have thought that UCLA would be involved in the biggest upset of the weekend, maybe of the season? It wasn’t quite as raucous as the infamous “Route 66” victory back in 1997, but trust me, it sure does feel like it. A 34-12 victory is just as satisfying. The Bruins sent the near silent crowd of almost 102,000 Longhorn fans home to lick their wounds Saturday night, and they did it in a BIG way handing the (formally) undefeated University of Texas Longhorns their first loss of the season. And you guessed it, this was UT’s worst home loss since, wait for it… wait for it… the last time the Bruins came to town. The Longhorn fans were certainly looking for long awaited revenge and I’m happy to say that the only glimmer they got of that was chit-chat before opening kickoff. Instead of trying to survive or simply trying to have a good outing against the 7th ranked Texas Longhorns, UCLA came in to Memorial Stadium on a mission, a “quest” as Coach Neu called it. Well boys, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The Bruins stomped the Longhorns and danced off the field towards the sea of Bruin fans (nearly 4,000!) in the corner of the stadium with their heads held high and smiles as big as Texas on their faces. Hello, America! The Bruins have arrived. Better late than never, right?
With their first road victory against a top ten team since 1998 (yes, you read that right), the Bruins crushed thenumber one rushing defense in the nation, gaining 264 yards. And when I say crushed, I mean crushed. Texas had given up an average of 44 rushing yards prior to this game… Jet Franklin had 118 yards rushing all by himself. Supporting RB Derrick Coleman tacked on 94 rushing yards, and Kevin Prince, the media coined “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (REAL original guys), tacked on a cool 50 yards including a 38-yard dash for a TD. The Bruins seem to be finding their identity with the run game featuring the pistol offense. I mean, KP only passed the ball 8 times for 27 yards and let the run game carry his team to a victory. At one point in the game Neu apparently looked up, saw that UCLA had 6 total passing yards, and thought to himself “Who am I?!” The defense was exceptional, as usual, forcing four first half turnovers that drastically changed the momentum of the game. Guys were flying all over the field making stellar tackles that seemed to stun the Longhorns. Kicker Kai Forbath drilled FGs from 39 and 49, ensuring that the special teams unit did their part for a Bruin victory. I honestly wish I could go through every single guy and talk about what they contributed to the victory, but I’m already rambling on and gushing enough. Shocker, I know. Needless to say, the boys in burnt orange and white were feeling “pistol-whipped” by the end of the day.
Texas looked like they were enduring an identity crises which, in a lot of ways they are. With the exit of their beloved Colt McCoy and his BFF receiver Jordan Shipley, the Longhorns are trying to figure out how to start a new chapter in the storied book of Longhorn history. From when they took the field for pre-game warm-ups in the blazing Texas heat to when they scuffled off the field after the game, the ‘Horns didn’t look energized, focused, or disciplined. “This one’s embarrassing for me. As a head coach, I’m responsible for everybody in this program, from the trainers to the managers to the walk-ons, to the kids to the coaches – everybody,” said Mack Brown following the game. The Bruins surely handed Mack and the Longhorns a strong reality check.
I was lucky enough to make the trip down to Austin, see my wonderful family, and witness for myself the competitive greatness exemplified by the Bruins on Saturday. Seeing our administration, staff, and guys come out of that tunnel last night smiling and cheering was such a fantastic feeling. The atmosphere was brimming with UCLA love and swelling confidence. Sweaty hugs were given (thanks for the sweat on my face David Allen), handshakes were exchanged, and photos were snapped to commemorate arguably the most prominent win for the Bruins in the last decade.
During my trip, not only was I reminded how proud I am to be a Bruin, but I was also ardently reminded of how proud I am to be a native Texan. The generosity, classiness, and genuine kindness of everyone in Austin were overwhelming. I’m telling you, I was blown away. While my family and I were walking to the stadium sticking out like sore thumbs in our Bruin blue gear, I did not hear one snide, cocky, or malicious comment. In fact, lots of people wished us luck and welcomed us to Austin and their illustrious stadium (not sarcastically). A few people asked us if we had Kleenex ready for after the game but said it with a grin, chuckle, and a fist bump. Upon arrival at the stadium, we were greeted with more smiles. I can count on one hand the number of ushers who didn’t smile, say hello, wish us luck, or welcome us. The Longhorn fans in the stands were complimentary of our school, our program, and our boys before they congratulated us and thanked us for coming. All of this after we completely dismantled their revered ‘Horns. One particular guy came up to us and said, “That was a real great butt whuppin.” Even as we were making the hike back to our car, the straggling UT fans saluted us with a steady stream of “good games” and “thanks for coming.” Good ‘ol Southern hospitality at its best. Thanks for having us, Austin! I hope we can treat you with the same hospitality when you journey out to LA LA Land. I am so happy I got to be there in person for this experience, what a memory!
With wins against Houston and Texas, the “turning-point” seems to have arrived and confidence is building in the Bruin lockerroom. UCLA has four games remaining against Top 25 teams; it is imperative that the Bruins take care of business with Washington State next weekend at the Rosebowl and continue to stay in the zone and tuned in with the intensity needed to win. Another week of practice ahead and our best is yet to come. The Bruins walked into Saturday’s game as boys and came out men. It was, and most certainly always is, a great day to be a Bruin. We hooked them ‘Horns ya’ll! WIN, LOSE, OR TIE, BRUIN ‘TIL THE DAY I DIE ❤