UCLA upset Nebraska, 36-30, Sunday in its home opener at the Rose Bowl as redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns and senior Jonathan Franklin ran for a career-high 217 yards.
The Bruins, 2-0, took the lead for good with eight minutes, 44 seconds to play when defensive end Datone Jones tackled Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez in the end zone for safety, breaking a 27-27 tie.
"You hate to ever say there's a play of the game, because there are so many plays that that are critical, but that might have been the play of the game,'' said UCLA coach Jim L. Mora, who was making his Rose Bowl debut as the
Bruins' coach. "It gave us that cushion, that extra two points that was so
critical at the end there."
Hundley threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Franklin with 2:13 to play, three plays after Andrew Abbott intercepted a Martinez pass and his 24-yard return gave UCLA the ball on the Nebraska 16-yard line.
Brett Maher kicked a 40-yard field goal for the Cornhuskers, 1-1, on the ensuing possession. The Bruins recovered the onside kick and ran out the final 1:36.
"It's a heck of a win for our program," Mora said. "We have to learn from it. We had critical penalties that could hurt us, but we overcame it. We'll enjoy it for 24 hours, then turn our thoughts to Houston," who will play the Bruins next Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
When asked what he thought what the significance of the victory was, Mora responded, "It means we beat Nebraska and we are 2-0."
UCLA hasn't been in The Associated Press Top 25 since the week of Sept. 9, 2007 and was 21-30 over the past four seasons, with all but one of the losses under Rick Neuheisel, fired as coach two days after a 50-0 loss to USC.
The team has set a goal for the season of "being known again," according to outside linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. "In order to be known, you've got to win games like this," Zumwalt said. "Beating a team this good was really good for us."
The Bruins were four-point underdogs, according to USA Today oddsmaker Danny Sheridan.
Nebraska was ranked 16th in The Associated Press media poll released Tuesday. The Bruins were not among the 42 teams receiving votes.
Hundley completed 21 of 33 passes, including touchdown passes of 27 and four yards to Joseph Fauria and a 49-yard touchdown pass to Steven Manfro, all in the first half.
UCLA gained 653 yards, the sixth-most in school history. The school record of 679 was set in a 1994 game against Arizona State. The Cornhuskers gained 439.
"Defensively we didn't show up in the first half and offensively we didn't show up in the second half," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "You have to have each other's back and it didn't happen. UCLA earned the win and we didn't earn it."
Freshman Ka'imi Fairburn kicked 35- and 22-yard field goals for the Bruins in the second and third quarters, but missed 36- and 34-yard attempts in the first and fourth quarters.
Franklin's previous career high was 216 yards in a 2010 game against Washington State. He ran for 214 yards in UCLA's season-opening 49-24 victory over Rice Aug. 30.
Martinez, a graduate of Centennial High School in Corona, completed 17 of 31 passes for 179 yards. He also ran for 112 yards on 13 carries, including a 92-yard first-quarter touchdown run, the second-longest rushing touchdown against the Bruins. The record is 93 yards set by Jahvid Best of California in 2009.
Ameer Abdullah ran for 119 yard on 16 carries for Nebraska, including a six-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a 17-yard touchdown in the second.
Maher kicked a 54-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, tying the score 24-24, and a 43-yard field goal with 7:45 left in the third quarter, re-tying the score, 27-27.
Maher missed a 37-yard field goal attempt with 12:12 left in the game that would have given Cornhuskers the lead.
A crowd announced at 71,530, including what a UCLA Athletic Department official said were 10,000-15,000 Cornhuskers fans who bought tickets through their school, witnessed Jim L. Mora's team's victory.
The game was played one day short of the 40th anniversary of UCLA's 20-17 victory over Nebraska on Sept. 9, 1972 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which ended the two-time defending national champion Cornhuskers' 32-game unbeaten streak and was one of the biggest victories in the program's history.
Members of the 1972 Bruins team were introduced during a quarter break. James McAlister, a running back on the UCLA 1972 team, was its honorary captain Sunday.