In a commanding performance, No. 23 UCLA reaffirmed their Pac-12 title aspirations with a resounding 28-16 victory over Colorado. The Bruins dominated the line of scrimmage, recording seven sacks and making life miserable for Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders. This victory not only bolsters UCLA’s hopes for a potential backdoor entry into the Pac-12 title game but also dashes Colorado’s dreams of becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2016.
Sanders, who entered the game as one of Colorado’s star players, faced one of the nation’s top defenses and endured one of his worst statistical performances of the season. He completed 27 of 42 passes for 217 yards, with his sole touchdown of the evening, an 18-yard connection to Jimmy Horn Jr., coming late in the fourth quarter. Colorado’s offense struggled against the relentless UCLA defense, amassing only 255 yards while allowing a whopping 487.
Colorado, now standing at 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12, faces an uphill battle to secure a coveted bowl berth. They must win at least two of their remaining four games against Oregon State, Arizona, Washington State, and Utah to keep their bowl hopes alive.
UCLA, with a season record of 6-2 and a conference record of 3-2, showcased a remarkable defensive performance. All-American candidate edge rusher Laiatu Latu played a pivotal role, recording two sacks and exerting consistent pressure on Sanders, making him uncomfortable in the pocket.
While UCLA’s offense faced challenges in the first half, they found their rhythm in the third quarter. Quarterback Ethan Garbers, who began the season as the Bruins’ starter before giving way to Dante Moore, orchestrated an impressive 75-yard drive. Garbers capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Moliki Matavao. He completed 20 of 27 passes for 269 yards, reinforcing his pivotal role in UCLA’s offensive resurgence.
Garbers’ return as the starting quarterback highlights the adaptability and experience that he brings to the team. Despite the initial quarterback change, his steady presence helped him regain the top spot on the depth chart.
Colorado managed to force four turnovers in the first half, with Travis Hunter notching two interceptions. However, their efforts were often stymied by the UCLA defense, resulting in field goal attempts by Alejandro Mata. Colorado’s safety, Shilo Sanders, made a notable play by forcing a fumble, but he was ejected from the game due to a targeting penalty.
In the end, UCLA’s dominant defensive display and a quarterback resurgence paved the way for their victory, solidifying their position as a contender in the Pac-12 conference.
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