PROVO No last-second blocked kick was required this time. BYU's third matchup with UCLA in 370 days proved to be an old-fashioned Bruin-kicking from beginning to end.
The No. 18 Cougars exploded for 35 points in the second quarter and cruised to a stunningly easy 59-0 rout of UCLA on a sun-drenched Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Nobody expected BYU to score 59 points. Nobody expected the Bruins led by new offensive coordinator Norm Chow to be shut out. But that's what happened.
Now UCLA. Now you don't.
"I didn't expect it to be quite like that," said BYU quarterback Max Hall, who tied a school record with seven touchdown passes. "But I did expect us to come out and play well. I expected us to put a lot of points on the board because this team, right now, we believe in each other. We're working our tails off.... Things just clicked for us. We took advantage of turnovers. We just kept rolling with the momentum and it turned out to be a pretty good day for us."
That's an understatement. It was BYU's most dominating victory ever over an opponent from a Bowl Championship Series conference and it was UCLA's worst loss in nearly 80 years. The Cougars have now won five of their last six games against Pac-10 opponents.
"We were determined to put a complete game together," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "It's just the next victory in our program as we return, and work to return, to what BYU football once was. I was proud of our team today."
The Cougars found themselves in the national spotlight after last Saturday's 28-27 victory over Washington because of a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct call on Husky quarterback Jake Locker. That resulted in a 35-yard extra point attempt, which BYU blocked at :02 to clinch the game.
But in the national media, the Cougars' win was overlooked or even ignored. What's more, BYU dropped three spots in the Associated Press poll.
Apparently, the Cougars had heard and seen enough. They responded in resounding fashion.
"It was a great win for us last week and we felt like we deserved it," said tight end Dennis Pitta. "A lot of the media didn't really give us too much credit for it. We wanted to come out and make a statement, and kind of send a message. Other than that, it was just another game for us."
And what statement did BYU make?
"We're a good team. For anybody that questions that, hopefully we proved that today," said BYU defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen, who blocked that kick against Washington. "We can come out and play with anybody. I'm not trying to take anything away from UCLA, but this is a good football team that we have here. When we're clicking on all cylinders, we'll do this. We had some costly turnovers in the Northern Iowa and Washington games that kept us from putting points on the board. So you see what happened today. When we take care of the football and execute, this is what happens."
Jorgensen and his teammates wanted to give people something to talk about other than that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in Seattle.
"We were tired of hearing about that call," Jorgensen said. "We were ready to come out and make a statement today to shut people up so they could focus on something other than one call and one game."
First-year UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was impressed with what he saw out of BYU.
"It's a tough loss," he said. "We just got dominated in every aspect of the game. We left our defense on the field too long and couldn't get to Hall. He was on target every pass. Those three turnovers (after) we were down 14-0 were very costly. Games like this can get away from you very quickly if you're not mentally tough. Give BYU credit for the win."
How dominant were the Cougars? They outgained UCLA 521 yards to 239 yards. The Bruins were limited to just nine yards rushing.
From the outset, the Cougars were in control. The BYU defense forced a three-and-out after the opening kickoff. The offense took over and marched 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Pitta.
It was during that first possession that Hall knew that it would be the Cougars' day. "We were able to go down there and what we were doing on them, I thought we were going to be unstoppable against them," he said. "The offense today felt unstoppable."
BYU scored its second touchdown 30 seconds into the second quarter to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive. The Cougars scored four more TDs before the half was over. Three of those touchdowns came after three consecutive UCLA fumbles, with Hall throwing TD passes to Austin Collie (37 yards), Mike Reed (12 yards) and Harvey Unga (15 yards).
As if that wasn't bad enough for UCLA, the Bruins were also forced to relive a nightmare from the Las Vegas Bowl in the second quarter.
Placekicker Kai Forbath, whose potential game-winning 28-yard field goal was blocked at the end of that game last December, had his 32-yard attempt blocked this time by defensive lineman Russell Tialavea.
BYU's offense then went on a 13-play, 48-yard drive that took 6:43 off the clock and culminated with another touchdown pass from Hall to Pitta. That made it 42-0 at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Hall threw his seventh touchdown pass a 7-yarder to Unga and didn't return. Soon after, Mendenhall emptied his bench.
With the game out of hand, Mendenhall said he was careful not to make the score any worse. To him, that was more important than posting an impressive score for those who vote in the polls.
"I hope that we demonstrated that in how we held the lead," he said. "I hope it was viewed with dignity and with class and with respect for our opponent. I don't make perfect decisions, but that was the intent today. I hope it was perceived like that."The Cougars open Mountain West Conference play on Saturday when they host Wyoming.
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