12:00 PM ET, September 14, 2013
Memorial Stadium (Lincoln, NE), Lincoln, NE
LINCOLN, Neb. -- UCLA's emotional week ended with the Bruins making a comeback the likes of which rarely, if ever, has been seen at Memorial Stadium.
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Brett Hundley threw three touchdown passes while No. 16 UCLA wiped out an 18-point deficit to defeat No. 23 Nebraska 41-21 and stun into silence a record crowd of 91,471 on Saturday.
The win came six days after UCLA receiver Nick Pasquale was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while he was walking in his hometown and a day before coaches and teammates travel to San Clemente, Calif., for his memorial service.
"You can't believe how tough it was on them," Bruins coach Jim Mora said. "You never want to say you won one for somebody. We didn't win one for Nick. What we tried to do today is go out and play with the type or energy, enthusiasm and passion for the game that would reflect what he meant to us."
The Bruins wore No. 36 patches on their jerseys in memory of Pasquale. The Huskers wore No. 36 decals on their helmets, and there was a moment of silence for Pasquale before the game.
The Huskers (2-1), wearing alternate black jerseys instead of their traditional home red, looked to be in total control in the first half.
Then they had a flashback to last year at the Rose Bowl, when they couldn't stop Hundley and an offense that had 653 yards in a 36-30 Bruins' win.
"The first half there was so much emotion, I'm not going to lie," Hundley said. "I just had so much emotion going into the game. There were a lot of things that added up to it. After the first half, everything slowed down and we got back to playing football and came out with the win."
According to STATS, the 18 points marked the biggest deficit overcome by a Nebraska opponent in Lincoln since at least 1996. Neither STATS nor Nebraska sports information officials had complete records on opponent comebacks available prior to 1996.
Washington rallied from 12 points down to beat the Huskers in 1991 and Colorado came back from 12 points down to win in 1990, but those games can't compare to the magnitude of Nebraska's meltdown Saturday.
The Bruins (2-0) scored 35 points in 16 minutes. The barrage started with Paul Perkins' 10-yard touchdown run to cut Nebraska's lead to 21-10 at the half.
"We came in at halftime and there weren't a lot of adjustments that needed to be made," Mora said. "It was more of an adjustment in our mindset."
Mora told his players at halftime that they needed to relax and breathe.
"There were no mystical, magical X's and O's," Mora said. "It was just our players doing what they're supposed to do and really just loving what they do, and that's playing football."
Nebraska's defense, which has struggled in the biggest games in the past year, allowed 236 yards in the third quarter and 504 for the game.
"The second half was a lot like last year," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "We made the tackles in the first half. I don't know how many tackles we missed in that second half but it is a lot. We missed tackle after tackle after tackle."
Nebraska came into the game hoping to get even for last year's embarrassing performance against UCLA.
Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr, who made 11 tackles and forced three fumbles, said he and his teammates also felt they had something to prove.
"A lot people said last year was a fluke," Barr said. "We were listening to that and had a chip on our shoulder coming in here. We didn't play with enough controlled emotion in the first half.
"The emotion got the best of us and we wanted to do a little bit too much on offense and defense. When that kind of settled down a little bit, we took a deep breath and came out and made a statement."
The Huskers still looked as if they had some life in them when, trailing 38-21, they moved from their 25 to the UCLA 12 early in the fourth quarter.
But Ameer Abdullah fumbled at the 6 after getting hit by Barr.
Nebraska generated more than 19 yards on just two of its last 10 possessions and had only 130 of its 326 yards after halftime.
"I felt at times I was looking at our guys on the sideline and it was like they saw a ghost," Pelini said. "Someone has to step up and make a play. We needed to get the momentum turned back the other way, and it didn't happen."
Hundley completed 16 of 25 passes for 294 yards, with one interception that set up Nebraska's first touchdown. James ran 22 times for 105 yards and a TD.
Taylor Martinez was 21 of 35 for 203 yards and three touchdowns for the Huskers, and Abdullah had 98 yards on 23 carries.
Hundley kept alive the Bruins' lone touchdown drive of the first half when he scrambled for 13 yards on a third-and-12.
"That might be the play of the game," Mora said. "I don't like to point to a single play. But right there, we needed that."
Hundley passed for 32 yards to Devin Fuller on the next play, and Perkins went 10 yards up the middle to make it an 11-point game.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... UCLA scored 31 unanswered points, including a 28-yard go-ahead pass from Brett Hundley, and held Nebraska scoreless in the second half.
Gameball goes to... The battle of the dual-threat quarterbacks easily went to UCLA's Hundley, who completed 16 of 24 passes for 294 yards and 3 TDs.
Stat of the game... 31-0. The largest second-half deficit for Nebraska since 2004 at Texas Tech (-42) and the Huskers' largest at home in the past 10 seasons.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-15||3-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||2-3|
|TD||09:45||Quincy Enunwa 11 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Pat Smith Kick)||0||7|
|FG||07:13||Ka'imi Fairbairn 44 Yd||3||7|
|TD||00:31||Quincy Enunwa 14 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Mauro Bondi Kick)||3||14|
|TD||07:12||Kenny Bell 22 Yd Pass From Taylor Martinez (Pat Smith Kick)||3||21|
|TD||00:57||Paul Perkins 10 Yd Run (Ka'Imi Fairbairn Kick)||10||21|
|TD||08:31||Jordon James 3 Yd Run (Ka'Imi Fairbairn Kick)||17||21|
|TD||06:02||Shaquelle Evans 28 Yd Pass From Brett Hundley (Ka'Imi Fairbairn Kick)||24||21|
|TD||03:39||Phillip Ruhl 12 Yd Pass From Brett Hundley (Ka'Imi Fairbairn Kick)||31||21|
|TD||00:26||Nate Iese 3 Yd Pass From Brett Hundley (Ka'Imi Fairbairn Kick)||38||21|
|FG||01:53||Ka'imi Fairbairn 24 Yd||41||21|
The 28 points allowed by Nebraska are the most allowed in the 3rd quarter in any game in school history.
Taylor Martinez started off strong while Brett Hundley struggled early, resulting in Nebraska getting out to a 21-3 lead midway through the 2nd quarter. From that point on, it was pretty much all UCLA, as Hundley put up a QBR of 94.0 (12-15, 9.2 yards per play, 3 TD) compared to Martinez's 10.5 (10-19, 3.1 yards per play, 1-for-9 on converting 3rd downs) as UCLA scored 38 unanswered to come away with an impressive win in Lincoln.[+]
Taylor Martinez has struggled since the end of last year against quality competition. He did well in Nebraska's first 2 games this year against non-BCS AQ opposition, but his below average performance vs UCLA continues a disturbing trend going back to the end of last season against AQ opponents.[+]
Taylor Martinez - Last 9 Games vs BCS AQ Opponents
Nebraska was outscored 31-0 by UCLA in the 2nd half.... It's the largest 2nd-half deficit for Nebraska since 2004 at Texas Tech (-42) and it's the Huskers' largest at home over the last 10 seasons.
Through 2 games this season, Hundley has shown major improvement compared to how he finished last year, when the Bruins ended the year with consecutive losses to Stanford before getting blown out by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. In the 2 convincing wins this year - vs Nevada and at Nebraska - Hundley has a QBR over 50 points higher than he did during that 3-game skid.[+]
Brett Hundley - Last 5 Games
Nebraska's 17-play TD drive in the 1st quarter was just the 2nd TD drive of at least 17 plays for the Cornhuskers in last 10 seasons. Also had a 17-play TD drive at Minnesota in 2011.
Nebraska's Taylor Martinez has thrown for 3 pass TD in all 3 games this season. Entering this season, Martinez had 3 career games with 3 pass TD. Last year against UCLA, Martinez did not throw a single pass TD.
If UCLA is going to trail early, Nebraska may be the best option... Entering Saturday, UCLA is 1-4 in its last 5 games in which it trailed after the 1st quarter with the lone win coming last season against Nebraska (trailed 14-7).
Entering Saturday, Bruins are 1-21 when trailing by double figures at halftime since 2006. Only win over span came in 2009 EagleBank Bowl vs Temple. UCLA hasn't done it in a TRUE road game since 2005 at Washington State.
This is the 3rd time in his career that Taylor Martinez has 3 Pass TD in the first half of a game. (2012 vs Southern Miss, 2010 vs Oklahoma State)
ESPN Stats & Information