Rapid Reaction: LSU loses opener to sharper, better balanced UCLA
LSU and UCLA went toe to toe in one of the marquee matchups of the first full weekend of the college football season on Saturday in Los Angeles.
The Bruins showed the sharpness of a team that began its season a week earlier with a dominant 44-10 victory against visiting Hawaii. The Tigers showed the sluggishness of a team that scrambled from Baton Rouge to Houston a week earlier to conduct game-week preparations for their opener away from the threat of Hurricane Ida.
In the end UCLA won both lines of scrimmage and was more balanced on offense in their 38-27 victory over the Tigers in the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins took the lead in the second quarter and never relinquished it.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson took advantage of a superior running game and played more efficiently than LSU counterpart Max Johnson.
The Bruins defense harassed Johnson, who was making just his third college start, more consistently than LSU was able to harass Thompson-Robinson.
LSU (0-1), ranked No. 16 in the preseason Associated Press poll, reached midfield on the first possession of the third quarter before Johnson threw an interception to Caleb Johnson, who returned it to the Tigers 17.
Three plays later on third and 7, Thompson-Robinson threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chase Cota for a 21-10 Bruins lead.
The Tigers responded quickly as Johnson connected with Kayshon Boutte for a 44-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 21-17.
UCLA marched right back into LSU territory before stalling. Nicholas Barr-Mira’s 43-yard field goal increased the Bruins lead to 24-17.
Cade York’s 33-yard field goal cut the UCLA lead to 24-20 at the end of the third quarter.
Brittain Brown’s 1-yard touchdown run gave the Bruins some breathing room with a 31-20 lead early in the fourth quarter. Thompson-Robinson hit Kyle Phillips for a 45-yard TD and a 38-20 lead.
The Tigers got a TD pass from Max Johnson to Kayshon Boutte for the third time on the night to close within 38-27 but but couldn’t catch up.
The first quarter was scoreless and nearly dead even as LSU had a 52-51 advantage in total yards and a 7:35-7:25 edge in time of possession.
The Tigers’ last possession of the quarter carried over into the second and Johnson gave them a 7-0 lead when he threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Boutte on third-and-goal.
The lead evaporated almost immediately as on the next play from scrimmage. Thompson-Robinson hit a wide-open Greg Dulcich, who spun out of an attempted tackle by Major Burns on his way to a tying 75-yard touchdown.
The Bruins forced a Tigers punt on the ensuing possession and went right back to work as Zach Charbonnet’s 12-yard touchdown run gave UCLA a 14-7 lead.
LSU drove into UCLA territory before stalling and York’s apparent 52-yard field goal was negated by a false start, forcing a punt.
Eli Ricks intercepted Thompson-Robinson and the Tigers moved to a first and goal at the 7 before stalling. York’s 26-yard field goal cut the Bruins lead to 14-10 at halftime.
LSU had just 3 rushing yards at halftime.
The Tigers made a concerted effort to run the ball more effectively at the outset of the third quarter and showed marginal improvement but could never match the Bruins’ efficiency or balance.