UCLA 29, Arizona State 28 (final)
UCLA controls its own destiny.
The Bruins improved their record to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the South Division of the Pacific 12 Conference, which moves them into a tie for first place with Arizona State (6-3, 4-2). What's more, UCLA holds the tiebreaker with their victory Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
But the Bruins didn't get there easily.
In fact, even if that game going on in the Deep South is said to be the Game of the Century, there's a good chance it won't live up to what transpired tonight in Pasadena.
At the finish, Arizona State kicker Alex Garoutte was short on a 46-yard field-goal attempt as time expired.
Just before that, the Sun Devils moved down field from their 24-yard line to the Bruins' 29 largely on three plays: a 20-yard pass from Brock Osweiler to Gerrell Robinson, a controversial pass interference call on UCLA cornerback Aaron Hester and a 12-yard pass from Osweiler to Mike Willie.
But Garoutte couldn't come through. He missed all three of his field-goal attempts tonight. He had missed only three all season coming into the game.
Some final stats:
--The Bruins tallied 416 total yards, and 220 of them came on the ground. Derrick Coleman had 119 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 17 carries. Quaterback Kevin Prince had 61 yards in 15 rushes.
--Arizona State had 465 total yards, 264 through the air from Osweiler, who completed 22 of 38 passes and threw for two touchdowns. Robinson was his main target, catching six passes for 131 yards.
--Prince completed 11 of 17 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. Nelson Rosario caught five passes for 151 yards and a touchdown.
Here's a recap of the game:
UCLA 29, Arizona State 28 (late in the fourth quarter)
The Bruins have shown plenty of fight tonight and just retook the lead with 49 seconds left after a one-yard touchdown run by Derrick Coleman with 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Coleman ran for the first 10 yards, then had a 41-yard gain, pushing him over the century mark for the night at 119 yards.
And then Kevin Prince fumbled and recovered it, setting UCLA back seven yards.
And then Joseph Fauria was called for pass interference, setting UCLA back 15 more yards.
But Prince made that up with a 33-yard completion to Nelson Rosario, moving the Bruins to the Arizona State six-yard line.
Coleman handled the load from there.
UCLA caught a huge break the drive before that.
Bruins receiver Josh Smith returned a kickoff but fumbled, giving Arizona State possession at UCLA’s 27-yard line.
But the Bruins held the Sun Devils to a 36-yard field-goal attempt, which Alex Garoutte pushed wide left.
Arizona State 28, UCLA 23 (middle of the fourth quarter)
Cameron Marshall busted through the Bruins' defense for big gains, as he has for much of the night.
Brock Osweiler converted key passes against UCLA's secondary to keep the chains moving, as he has at various points in the game.
And Arizona State responded with a 10-play, 93-yard drive that lasted 3:25 and was finished with a one-yard touchdown run by Osweiler to put Sun Devils back on top midway through the fourth quarter.
Osweiler is 20-of-34 passing for 232 yards and two touchdowns.
And Marshall has rushed for a career-high 165 yards in 26 carries.
UCLA 23, Arizona State 21 (middle of third quarter)
Just as UCLA made Arizona State's defense look silly a drive ago, Arizona State returned the favor.
Specifically, we're talking about Jamal Miles, a Sun Devils receiver.
Miles caught a short pass in the red zone and UCLA safety Stan McKay tried to deliver a knock-out blow, hitting Miles in the shoulder as the two neared the sideline.
But Miles just spun off that hit and trotted into the end zone to complete a nine-yard touchdown play.
That's a tackling lesson for you defensive youngsters out there: Wrap up the ball carrier.
And for youngsters that want to play offense: You can make a head-hunting defender look silly by putting him in a spin cycle.
UCLA 23, Arizona State 14 (early in the third quarter)
It would be hard for any defense to bite harder on a play-action pass than that.
UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince pump-faked a pass to the left side, and three Arizona State defensive players went for it.
Really, really went for it.
Then, Prince lofted a long pass to a really, really wide open Nelson Rosario down the sideline.
Really, really wide open.
Seventy-six yards later, touchdown, UCLA.
It was the longest pass play for UCLA since 2007 and Rosario's first touchdown catch this season.
UCLA 16, Arizona State 14 (late in the second quarter)
UCLA grinded out a 13-play, 80-yard drive in 6:09 –- and the Bruins are back on top.
Running back Derrick Coleman punched it in from one yard, his 10th touchdown of the season.
And if you’re keeping track at home, three personal foul penalties have been called on Arizona State thus far, including a key one that helped that drive along.
It’s safe to say things have been getting a little chippy between these teams.
Arizona State 14, UCLA 6 (early in the second quarter)
UCLA pinned Arizona State at the 3-yard line to start the Sun Devils' most recent drive.
You thought that would make a difference? That Arizona State would be in a tight spot?
The Sun Devils sped 97 yards in 10 plays and a tidy 3:29, with Cameron Marshall running the last 14 up the middle for a touchdown.
To put that drive in perspective, it was 17 yards longer than Arizona State’s previous drive, but the Sun Devils reached the end zone one second faster on the game clock.
Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler has completed 7 of 9 passes for 113 passing yards and a touchdown.
Arizona State 7, UCLA 6 (late in the first quarter)
Uh oh … for UCLA, at least.
As he did last season, Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler just carved up the Bruins’ defense and made it look as easy as a Sunday stroll, completing four of five passes on an eight-play drive that covered 81 yards and ended with a 35-yard scoring pass from Osweiler to A.J. Pickens.
The drive only took 3:29, which was long enough for UCLA fans to enjoy its lead, which is now gone because Arizona State kicker Alex Garoutte made the extra point.
UCLA 6, Arizona State 0 (early in the first quarter)
Which Kevin Prince will UCLA fans see tonight? The quarterback or the running back?
So far, after UCLA's first drive, it’s the running back, which he was last week against California when he rushed for 163 yards.
Prince had two carries for 48 rushing yards -– on back-to-back carries, no less -– and accounted for 67 of UCLA’s 89 yards in an eight-play drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by Johnathan Franklin.
The extra-point kick by Tyler Gonzalez sailed wide right.
You may believe -- either from the hype, the photo above or one of the posts below -- that Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict is the only player on defense worth watching tonight.
But you might also want to focus on UCLA’s Datone Jones, No. 56 in your program.
Jones, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound junior, is a defensive end, but he was moved inside to play defensive tackle against California because teammate Cassius Marsh was suspended. And in that game, Jones played excellent, recording a season-high six tackles and two sacks.
I highly recommend this excellent feature in The Times about Jones, a Compton native and a top NFL prospect, by Chris Foster.
Trust me, it’s worth a read.
You’ll notice tonight that Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler has little trouble scanning the field.
Yeah, well, that's pretty easy to do when you’re 6-foot-8, a height that qualifies him as the tallest quarterback in major college football.
The junior has had a great season thus far, throwing for 2,277 yards and 17 touchdowns.
He’s also thrown eight interceptions and been sacked 20 times, so he isn’t perfect, you know.
But you’d think with such height, "What is he doing on a football field? Shouldn’t he be playing hoops?"
Well, he used to, but then he played great against UCLA last year -– throwing for 380 yards and accounting for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in a 55-34 win -- and decided to stick with football.
Prior to that, he was still planning to join the Arizona State basketball team after the season.
For more on Oswelier, check out Chris Foster’s feature on him in The Times that ran this week.
An educated guess:
You will see a yellow flag or two fly today because of a fellow named Vontaze Burfict (No. 7 above).
If you didn’t know, he’s a linebacker for Arizona State and he’s quite good –- some even say the next Ray Lewis or the latest edition of Dick Butkus.
Burfict, who has 45 total tackles, six for losses, four sacks and an interception, was also named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2011 Butkus Award, an honor bestowed annually to college football’s top linebacker.
But he also has a short temper and has been known to blow his stack every now and again.
That often results in a 15-yard personal foul on Arizona State.
The referees will be watching him closely, and so should you. He’s one of the better college linebackers to come along in a good while. Here’s an in-depth profile I wrote for The Times on him in September.
You may remember it because of USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s now infamous quote, in which he called Burfict a “dirty player.” That line earned him a reprimand from the Pacific 12 Conference.
That line might have stoked Burfict’s fire when Arizona State crushed the Trojans, 43-22, on Sept. 24.
This week, UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria might have uttered a line that will do the same when he said of Burfict, “He’s another guy. I played him in high school. I don’t think he’s anything special at all.”
But there’s more to his story than that.
For instance, did you know he nearly died three times by the age of 13?
At 4 months, Burfict had after a near-fatal bout with rotavirus, a disease common among infants that causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and was hospitalized for a month and a half.
At 3, he was playing with a lighter and burned down the family's one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in West Covina, a fire from which he barely escaped.
At 13, while riding in his mother's car on the 210 Freeway in San Dimas, an 18-wheel truck sideswiped them, pushing the car over a cliff, where it tumbled two stories.
"Nobody should've come out of that car alive," said Lisa Williams, his mother.
Anyway, read on for more. Also, check out Chris Foster’s story in The Times about UCLA’s thoughts on Mr. Burfict heading into today’s game.
Happy Guy Fawkes Night! On this night in 1605 he tried to bust up the House of Parliament.
But, speaking of symbolic protests, it’s doubtful tonight you’ll see any UCLA fans at the Rose Bowl masquerading as Mr. Fawkes in protest of Rick Neuheisel still being the football team’s head coach, which they might have done not long ago after those three losses by an average of 30.3 points.
Actually, if the Bruins (4-4, 3-2) defeat No. 20 Arizona State (6-2, 4-1), then UCLA would move into a first-place tie with the Sun Devils in the Pacific 12 Conference’s South Division with three games to play.
Moreover … UCLA, winner of five of its last six against Arizona State at home, would own the tiebreaker.
So, in short, this is a big game for UCLA, which is looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since last season.
Or, as Bruins senior wide receiver Taylor Embree says, "This right here, this is the biggest game of my career since I have been at UCLA. If anyone says anything different, then they are lying."
For the particulars of this matchup, The Times’ Chris Foster already provided a breakdown. Check it out.
--Will UCLA’s rushing game be effective, as it was against California when quarterback Kevin Prince rumbled for 163 yards on the ground when the Bruins totaled 294 rushing yards?
--Or will Arizona State’s defense, led by linebacker Vontaze Burfict, shut the Bruins down?
--Will Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler, who passed for 380 yards and four touchdowns against UCLA in last season’s 55-34 Sun Devils win, torch the Bruins again?
--Or will UCLA, which is coming off its most consistent defensive effort of the season, keep him off target?
Stay tuned right here to find out.
And yes, we know there’s a football game of considerable magnitude being played in the Heart of Dixie at around the same time.
But those two teams will face off again in the BCS title game, so you can catch them again, no sweat.
Arizona State is having its annual homecoming for a large chunk of its roster.
The Sun Devils, who play either at UCLA or USC each season, have 28 players from Southern California. That includes five from Corona Centennial High: linebackers Vontaze Burfict, Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee, wide receiver Angelo Magee and quarterback Michael Eubank.
"I think it can be a distraction if you let it be," Erickson. "We won’t let it be because we’re not going down there in time for it to be a distraction. We understand what’s at stake. Every time we go to L.A., we get in there a little later."
The Sun Devils do benefit from playing each season in the recruiting rich Los Angeles area.
Still, before Saturday’s game, the Sun Devils have a 9-16-1 record against UCLA and USC on the road since joining the Pacific 10 Conference -- now the Pac 12.
Arizona State has lost nine of its last 10 games in Southern California, though Erickson said, "We’ve played pretty well down in Los Angeles for the most part, other than against [UCLA] two years ago. I think it’s a positive because our players get a chance to go play in front of their friends and families."
Photo: UCLA running back Derrick Coleman tries to evade Arizona State defensive back Alden Darby on a big gain in the second quarter Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times