At the end of the 2007 regular season, UCLA athletic director Dan "Just Put Some Wood Glue On It, It'll Be Fine" Guerrero fired Karl Dorrell as head coach of the Bruins. Nobody was really shocked by this; Dorrell lost four conference games in all but one of his five seasons, went 1-3 in bowl games, and was usually reliable for at least one stupid loss to an unranked team per year. There was no shortage of struggle and ruin for UCLA during the Dorrell Era, but they avoided one notable failure: the Bruins never got shut out.
Oh, there were humiliations. Karl Dorrell's 2005 team was ranked #7 when they lost 52-14 to an Arizona team that would finish the year 3-8. In 2007, the Bruins took an #11 ranking into Utah and lost on the road 44-6 to the Utes. They also lost to USC 66-19 that year, the biggest defeat for the Bruins since a 76-0 loss to the Trojans in 1929. Beating that kind of ignominy is hard, but Rick Neuheisel sees life as a series of challenges you embrace. Sometimes you wrestle them to the ground, and sometimes they crawl into your spacesuit and down your throat to lay eggs.
It's worth noting that this was the third meeting in roughly a calendar year between UCLA and BYU. The Bruins held serve at home in Week 2 of the 2007 season, beating the Cougars 27-17, and BYU won the rematch 17-16 when the two teams were selected for the Las Vegas Bowl. So a UCLA fan before this game considered the following:
1. UCLA beat this team last year despite being saddled with the coach we just fired. 2. Our new coach just beat 18th ranked Tennessee (a real thing that happened and should be held up forever as proof that all truth is temporary). 3. Therefore, UCLA should totally not get shutout and suffer our worst loss in 75 years.
The second quarter is like watching a man fall down a set of stairs into a mine cart, which careens into a forest fire, flips over six times, and then lands in a pile of priceless artwork that turns out to be possessed by the vengeful ghost of a viking. And it happens so fast!
- BYU starts with the ball at the UCLA 9 and scores in two plays.
- UCLA loses a fumble three plays into its next drive; BYU scores on its first snap following that, 91 seconds of game clock after the previous touchdown.
- UCLA fumbles again, though it takes the Cougars five plays to score. Three minutes run off the clock between these two possession.
- UCLA fumbles the ensuing kickoff, and BYU takes three plays and 17 seconds to get their fourth touchdown of the quarter.
28 points in slightly over five minutes of game time. This is the kind of conflagration you'd usually see in an 1910s oily rag factory. How did UCLA respond to this flat spin?
With a 32 yard field goal attempt that maybe gets seven feet off the ground. This is the act of a frustrated fifth grader who's sick of not getting the ball in a game of three on three and decided to peg his teammate/older brother square in the nuts with an inbound pass. We do not blame Kai Forbath for this act of defiance. He's being asked to do something utterly pointless, and he is giving that request all the respect it deserves. (In the fourth quarter, Rick Neuheisel sends Forbath out for a 26 yard field goal. He shanks it to the right.)
Did we mention UCLA ran for 9 yards in this game? If you think that's bad, watch them try to throw a screen pass.
Matt Putnam couldn't be more in front of you, Kevin Craft. It isn't physically possible.
There's no point breaking this down into its component parts anymore. What UCLA is playing here is not football. It's shame. And the Bruins are putting on a clinic.