Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

UCLA, Rosen: Lucky and Good

September 3rd, 2017 · No Comments · College football, Football, UCLA

UCLA trailed Texas A&M 44-10 late in the third quarter at the Rose Bowl in a season-opening intersectional football game tonight.

And won 45-44 with touchdowns in their final five possessions, including the winner with 43 seconds left. It was the second-biggest comeback victory in the history of major-college football.

When it was over, UCLA junior quarterback Josh Rosen got a lot of attention and a lot of credit. Fair enough; most teams pretty much give up down 34 points with nearly three quarters gone. Not many come up with five touchdown in its final five possessions — while holding the other guys scoreless, too.

But the Bruins also were Just Plain Lucky. More than a little. OK, maybe a lot. And Rosen was in the middle of it.

The Bruins got a touchdown run late in the third quarter to get to 44-17. A Rosen TD pass made it 44-24.

The next touchdown pass actually was an awful idea, intended deep in the middle of the field … where an A&M defender was perfectly placed to intercept. He went up for the ball and it somehow went through his gloved hands, and the UCLA receiver was paying close enough attention to catch the deflected ball and step into the end zone. Did Rosen not see the A&M defender who should have intercepted, or did he just expect something good to somehow happen?

The next time down, Rosen was under a heavy rush and just chucked the ball. He might have been trying to throw it out of bounds. More likely, he just hoped it would work out, though the numbers would suggest it would not. The corner of the end zone had two guys in blue jerseys but three in white A&M jerseys. No matter, one of the Bruins cut in front of the crowd and caught the ball. (Check the 1:25 mark at this video.)

Fans may think Rosen made a string of great plays, but professional observers, like NFL scouts, will know Rosen made horrible decisions — twice — and not only was not punished, each play went for a TD. Dumb luck. That’s all. Not that the Bruins were giving back the TDs.

The final TD came with 43 seconds left, with A&Ms defense exhausted by the onslaught. Rosen faked a time-freezing spike, rose up and lofted the ball on a fade pattern, caught by Jordan Lasley, and UCLA hung on to win.

Beside the two absolutely fluky late TD passes, UCLA also benefited from A&M’s No. 1 quarterback going out with an injury as things got desperate and the Aggies offense went dead.

UCLA might be good. The Bruins certainly are not inclined to give up early, though the fact that A&M shredded the Bruins for 382 rushing yards is creepy for the Bruins. A veteran quarterback is good to have, as his 35-for-59 for 491 yards and those four fourth-quarter TDs demonstrated.

UCLA got another break, or made it, when Adarius Pickett got a fingertip on an A&M field goal that would have left the Bruins down one too many scores for them to catch up.

Conceded Rosen: “We were an inch away from losing that game probably 10 times. I mean, for God’s sakes, I mean, that field goal would have put us out, and we just had an incredible surge and effort just to put probably a centimeter of a finger on the ball.

“I mean, the things that had to go right to win this game were incredible.”

Going forward, it’s a victory for UCLA and a bitter defeat for A&M. By November no one outside those two programs will remember how weird the game was, or how lucky were the Bruins, and Rosen, were.



0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment