No. 16 UCLA vs. No.23 Nebraska: A Tale of Two Halves For UCLA Bruins
In a game where UCLA has an opportunity to make its case in the Pac-12, the Bruins saw themselves outmatched in terms of both physicality and energy as the Nebraska Cornhuskers jumped out to a 21-10 lead at halftime. Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez kept the Bruins defense on their heels, tossing three touchdown passes in what looked to be a potential blowout.
But, Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley overcame his lackluster first half by throwing three touchdown passes and playing like the Hundley UCLA is used to seeing as he led the Bruins to a 41-21 victory over the Cornhuskers.
And the victory comes nearly a week after the death of running back Nick Pasquale, who was killed early Sunday morning after he was struck by a car in an accidental death in his hometown. He was 20 years old. To honor the running back, both teams wore No. 36 on their uniforms.
Hundley threw for 294 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, with all three of his touchdown passes coming in the third quarter. Hundley also showed his ability as a dual threat by rushing for 61 yards on 19 carries while leading the Bruins offense to over 500 total yards of offense.
Despite the Bruins’ victory in Lincoln, Neb., there was a big lack of energy from both sides, especially from the Bruins, who were outplayed physically on both sides of the ball in the first half as Nebraska quickly jumped out to a 21-3 lead. Despite Martinez’ questionable passing ability, his arm made the difference early as he threw for 203 passing yards and three touchdowns.
In the first half for the Bruins, there were still plenty of raw emotions after the loss of Pasquale, and the first half saw a UCLA team out of rhythm and that got out of their gameplan. But the turning point came right before the half, when running back Paul Perkins scored their first touchdown of the game, and jump started what would become a game where Nebraska wouldn’t score another point.
But in the second half, Hundley was a more confident quarterback, and showed excellent leadership and poise over the offense. While on the defensive side, the Bruins created more pressure on Martinez and allowed him less time to make things happen. They also held a strong Cornhuskers rushing attack to an average of three yards per carry and made their offense a non-factor.
Winning this game gives the Bruins more confidence and also allows the healing process to continue for a team that has gained something valuable to play for.