ROUT 66; UCLA BARRAGE BURIES TEXAS : UCLA 66, TEXAS 3.
If you had UCLA minus-64 - too bad.
``I wanted to win, and I thought we would win,'' Bruins receiver Jim McElroy said. ``But I never thought it would be like this.''
Nor did UCLA coach Bob Toledo. From the oppressive heat to the Texas running game to the Bruins' own blunders, Toledo thought he was prepared for every possible dilemma against No. 11 Texas.
And he was - except for one: How to avoid running up the score?
Late in the third quarter, he pulled tailback Skip Hicks.
Early in the fourth, he yanked quarterback Cade McNown.
Then, with six minutes left, Toledo's lieutenants left the coaches' box to join the on-field celebration.
A young season of bizarre twists took its strangest one yet on Saturday, as the Bruins handed Texas the worst home loss in its storied history - a 66-3 beating before 77,203 fans at Royal-Memorial Stadium that was as astounding as it was complete.
``At the end of the game I looked up and it was like, `Wow, it's 66-3,' '' UCLA linebacker Danjuan Magee said. ``But we were tired of losing, tired of putting on a good show for the fans and not winning. We wanted it more than they did. I don't think they knew how good we were.''
It was among the most surreal three hours in Bruins history. UCLA's killer penalties, fumbles and interceptions of previous games were mysteriously transferred to the Longhorns. Meanwhile, the Bruins, who were 12-point underdogs, somehow morphed into Texas, with its big plays, its swarming defense and its power running game.
Who was coaching these teams, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny?
It was as if all the frustration and disappointment, all the mistakes and criticism and blown opportunities that defined UCLA's 0-2 start had condensed into a football-sized mass of pent-up-power since the Tennessee loss.
``We wanted to destroy somebody,'' McElroy said.
And the Longhorns, who trailed 38-0 at halftime, just got in the way.
``It was more than an eye opener,'' said Texas coach John Mackovic, whose starting quarterback, James Brown, did not play because of an injured ankle. ``I think everyone was embarrassed, but what do you say?''
If you're the Bruins, you say you were a few mistakes and bad breaks from being 2-0 and ranked in the top 15, and now you're that close to being 3-0 and in the top 10.
If you're the Bruins, you say this performance was a tribute to hard work and positive thinking in the face of swelling criticism and a brutal schedule.
``We were embarrassed,'' defensive end Weldon Forde said. ``Everybody else was laughing at us. People in the Pac-10 were laughing at us. Texas came in and thought they would just roll over us.''
The Bruins seemed to pull this performance from a hidden pocket. Sure, they were confident, but they were confident before Washington State and Tennessee. When a disgusted Toledo threw the players out of practice Wednesday afternoon, it seemed the work of a desperate coach.
``Actually, I was just hot and wanted to get off the field,'' he quipped.
On the flight to Austin, in the hotel Friday night, at breakfast Saturday morning, even in pregame warmups - there was no indication of the dominance to come.
``We weren't as psyched up as we usually are,'' nose guard Damon Smith said. ``There wasn't any rah-rah stuff, maybe an occasional yell, but we weren't crazy like usual. Everybody was just focused.''
Each UCLA score seemed to send game officials scurrying to the record books and stat logs, but only a few numbers matter:
Texas committed eight turnovers, which UCLA turned into 42 points. Two blunders (one fumble, one interception) came 20 seconds apart early in the second quarter. The Bruins converted both and jumped to a 24-0 lead.
UCLA had seven sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss, as its constant pressure kept the Longhorns' offense from finding a groove. Texas gained 98 yards in the decisive first half.
``We were on a mission,'' Forde said. ``We were embarrassed about the first couple games. People were talking about the offense having to pick up the slack because of the defense. In past games we made mental errors. Today we just did everything right.''
Hicks, a native Texan playing before close to 100 friends and relatives, had 154 all-purpose yards. His 43-yard catch-and-run early in the second quarter gave the Bruins a 17-0 lead.
``I had a lot of extra umph with everyone here,'' he said. ``On a couple of drives, I told myself, `No matter how tired I am, I'm not coming out.' The adrenaline was flowing.''
McNown, who threw two interceptions against Tennessee, had a near-perfect game. He completed 12 of 18 passes with no INTs and a school-record five touchdowns.
``I couldn't care less about the record,'' McNown said. ``I'm just so excited. We did exactly what we tried to do: come here and get some momentum heading into conference play.''
Photo: (1--color) Nose guard Damon Smith celebrates with UCLA rooters - most of the Texas fans had long since departed.
(2) Between handoffs, QB Cade McNown threw for a UCLA-record five touchdowns.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 14, 1997|
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