November 18th – at UCLA          UCLA 45, Colorado 6

At least one member of the Embree family was happy with the result.

On Senior Day in the Rose Bowl, UCLA senior wide receiver Taylor Embree got life-long bragging rights over his father, as the son’s Bruins decimated the father’s Buffs, 45-6.

UCLA, behind 328 yards rushing, sprinted out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel, on the hot seat after four years in Westwood, secured a bowl bid for his Bruins with the victory, and kept alive UCLA’s hopes of representing the Pac-12 South in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.

The game, played before 57,334 in a stadium designed to hold almost twice that number, was over almost as soon as it began. The Buffs received the opening kickoff, and, on the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Tyler Hansen hit wide receiver Toney Clemons for an 11-yard gain and a first down out to the CU 31-yard line.

It was the last time Colorado had an advantage the entire game.

Three more plays netted only two more yards, and the Buffs were forced to punt. Taking over at their own 39 yard line, the Bruins needed only two plays to score all the points they would need for the victory.

On second-and-three at the 46, UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince hit wide receiver Shaquelle Evans for a 54-yard touchdown. The first quarter clock read 12:22, but the Bruins had already scored a knockout. UCLA 7, Colorado 0.

If giving up a long touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive (the sixth time in seven games in which the Colorado defense had given up an opening drive score, and for the seventh time in 2011) wasn’t bad enough, the Colorado offense made it worse. On the Buffs’ second play from scrimmage after the touchdown, Tyler Hansen was intercepted by UCLA linebacker Sean Westgate, who set up the Bruin offense at the CU 14-yard line. One play later, it was 14-0, UCLA after a Johnathan Franklin run.

After the Buffs quickly punted the ball back to the Bruins, the Colorado defense made its first stand of the night – if you can call making the Bruin offense work for its touchdown a “stand”. After giving up scoring “drives” of two plays and one play, the Buff defense forced the Bruin offense to stay on the field for 12 plays. UCLA finally put an end to the 80-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Prince to tight end Joseph Fauria, nephew of former Colorado standout Christian Fauria.

The rout was on. UCLA 21, Colorado 0 … with 4:03 still to play in the first quarter.

Memories of the first-ever game played between the two teams came to mind (UCLA was up 56-0 – at halftime – on its way to a 56-14 rout in the 1980 season opener), but the Buffs did manage to hold their own throughout the remainder of the first half. Taking over after the third Bruin touchdown, the Buff offense pieced together an 80-yard drive. Two ten-yard plays – a Hansen to Ryan Deehan pass and a Rodney Stewart run – got the ball to midfield. From there, a 19-yard pass from Hansen to Toney Clemons, followed by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Hansen to Clemons on the first play of the second quarter gave the Buffs new hope. UCLA 21, Colorado 6 (after Will Oliver was unsuccessful on an extra point for the second week in a row).

The Bruins looked to make it a perfect four-for-four on touchdown drives in the game, but stalled at the Colorado eight yard line, where Tyler Gonzalez missed a 25-yard field goal attempt. Thereafter, neither team was able to muster a serious threat, and the first half mercifully came to a close without any further scoring.

Halftime score: UCLA 21, Colorado 6.

While the Buffs had given up three quick touchdowns to start the game, they had settled down from there, out-scoring the Bruins 6-0 through the finaly 20 minutes of the first half. A comeback, against a team which had scored only six points the week before against Utah, was not out of the question.

Yes, it was.

UCLA restored order on its first drive of the second half, taking nine plays to cover 73 yards before settling for a 22-yard Gonzalez field goal. UCLA 24, Colorado 6.

If the Colorado coaching staff and players had come up with adjustments to better take on the UCLA defense, it didn’t show. On the Buffs’ second play from scrimmage, a long Tyler Hansen pass intended for Toney Clemons was intercepted by Andrew Abbott. All that kept the Bruins from adding another score was a fumble by UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, forced by linebacker Derrick Webb and recovered by cornerback Greg Henderson.

It appeared for the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth that the Bruins were satisfied with the victory, and the Buffs were resigned to the loss, as neither offense generated much yardage. Then, early in the fourth quarter, with UCLA leading comfortably, 24-6, Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel made a decision which would twist the dagger in the hearts of Buff fans just a little bit more.

Facing a fourth-and-three at the Colorado 21-yard line, Neuheisel eschewed a field goal attempt. Going for it on fourth down, Derrick Coleman rushed for six yards and a first down. On the next play, Prince connected with Fauria for their second touchdown hookup of the game. UCLA 31, Colorado 6.

The Buffs made it as far as midfield on their next drive, turning the ball over on downs. From there, the Bruins made quick work of the disheartened and disinterested Colorado defense, needing only four plays to score again, this time an 11-yard pass from Prince to Nelson Rosario. UCLA 38, Colorado 6.

The Bruins were not finished. A third Tyler Hansen interception, for a second time by Andrew Abbott, gave the ball to the UCLA offense at the Colorado 13 yard line. Five Malcolm Jones rushes later, the last from one yard out, brought the carnage to a close.

Final score: UCLA 45, Colorado 6

The stat sheet was an imbalanced as the scoreboard. UCLA had 553 yards of total offense, to just 229 for Colorado. Senior Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen, who had predicted a CU victory earlier in the week, went 16-for-31 for only 127 and three interceptions. Rodney Stewart managed 77 yards rushing, but it took him 21 carries to get there.

The Bruins, meanwhile, had many heroes. Johnathan Franklin went for 162 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Nelson Rosario had 102 yards on six catches. Kevin Prince was almost perfect, going 15-for-19 for 225 yards and four touchdowns, also chipping in 84 yards rushing on ten carries. Taylor Embree, on Senior Day, had two catches for 13 yards against his father’s team.

“Playing from behind like we did, we couldn’t sustain anything and couldn’t get any first downs,” said Jon Embree. “We had to stay on the field to give us a chance. I think our defense played well in spurts, but at the end we just couldn’t tackle. The last two or three drives we had there were just poor tackling.”

UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, running his record to 3-0 against his former team, could afford to be gracious in victory. “Seeing those uniforms out there was a little different,” said Neuheisel. “When I left Colorado to go to Washington, we played them the next two years. There were still a lot of hard feelings, if you will, and the players that certainly I’d been involved in recruiting. That was much more difficult. Coaching against guys where you had been in their living room nad convinced them to come and be a part of the program. It was fun and surreal to see Jon Embree as the head coach and a number of guys on that staff that I grew up with in this business. I was excited with how we were able to handle our end of the deal.”

For 6-5 UCLA, bowl planning could begin in earnest, with the opportunity still in play – with a victory over USC – to play for the Pac-12 championship game.

For 2-10 Colorado, several harsh realties came into focus. The road losing streak had been extended, with another road game still to come. Without a victory over Utah in Salt Lake, Colorado would post the first 11-loss season in school history. The Buffs would also – for the first time since 1915 – finish alone in the basement in conference play.

“We have one game left at Utah to try and end our road streak,” said Embreee. “It’s something our seniors and myself have talked about, finding a way to do that. They have one game left. We have three practices left and four days of football left for the majority of those guys, and then they never play again.”

Injury Update

– No new injuries were reported. Barring any injuries in the final week of practice, the status of senior safety Anthony Perkins (ankle sprain, hasn’t played since the Oregon game) and sophomore Parker Orms (“day-to-day” with a hamstring injury) will be the stories of the week.

 Game Notes

– A week after spending all but three minutes in the lead against Arizona, the Buffs trailed for all but three minutes against UCLA;

– UCLA now lead the all-time series, 5-2, breaking a two-game winning streak by Colorado. The Buffs are now 2-13-1 all-time in games played in the state of California;

– Senior running back Rodney Stewart added another record to his collection, this time for most receptions in a career by a running back. With seven catches for 36 yards, Stewart now has 91 career receptions, passing the mark of 86, set by Lee Rouson (1980-84). Stewart’s 959 career receiving yards are already a school record, and, with 41 receiving yards against Utah, will become just the 27th player in NCAA history to accumulate over 3,000 yards rushing and over 1,000 yards receiving;

– Senior wide receiver Toney Clemons caught a touchdown pass for the fourth consecutive game. The school record is five, set by Rae Carruth during the 1996 season;

– Senior quarterback Tyler Hansen passed Koy Detmer for fourth place on the all-time passing yard list (5,441 to 5,390). His 34th career touchdown pass tied him with John Hessler for fourth in that category;

– With his one catch for nine yards, sophomore wide receiver Paul Richardson became the third Buff with over 500 receiving yards on the season, joining Toney Clemons and Rodney Stewart. The 2011 thus becomes the first year in school history in which the Buffs have had three receivers go over 500 yards in the same season;

– Arizona upset Arizona State late Saturday night, with the Wildcats finishing conference play with a 2-7 Pac-12 record. Unless the Buffs can defeat Utah, Colorado will finish with a 1-8 conference record, the first time Colorado has finished alone in the basetment in conference play since the 1915 team went 0-5 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play. In all of the Buffs’ years as a member of the Big Seven, Big Eight, and Big 12, Colorado never finished last alone in conference play.

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