Only one day apart, UCLA and No. 4th-ranked USC needed furious late rallies in order to pull out wins this past weekend in its season openers.
The Bruins trailed by 34 points with 4:08 left in the third quarter, but a six-yard burst from junior running back Soso Jamabo (46 yards on seven carries) with 2:06 left and Josh Rosen’s four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter gave UCLA a 45-44 victory over Texas A&M on Sunday at the Rose Bowl.
This was UCLA’s largest comeback victory ever and the second biggest ever in college football history.
Rosen’s 10-yard strike to junior receiver Jordan Lasley (100 yards on four catches) and 43 seconds left and J.J. Molson’s extra point was the game-winner.
A 16-yard toss from Rosen to sophomore receiver Theo Howard (32 yards on two catches) cut the Aggies’ lead to 44-38 with 3:10 showing and a 42-yard bomb from Rosen to sophomore receiver Darren Andrews (142 yards on 12 receptions) trimmed A&M’s advantage to 44-31 with 8:12 on the clock.
Rosen’s nine-yard laser to Andrews and 13:22 left saw UCLA shave the gap to 44-24.
“I mean, the things that had to go right to win this game were incredible,’’ said Rosen, a junior quarterback who came in having played 19 games after missing the last six games in 2016 due to injury, passed for a career-high 491 yards and hit 35 of 59.
Sophomore Molson’s 29-yard field goal with 11:12 left in the first quarter made it 3-0 and a two-yard run from sophomore fullback Jalen Starks with three minutes showing in the second period trimmed it to 31-10.
Despite not scoring, UCLA sophomore tight end Caleb Wilson was impressive after hauling in a game-high 15 catches for a game-best 208 yards.
Sophomore running back Trayveon Williams ran for a game-best 203 yards on 22 carries and scored on runs of two and 61 yards, while senior running back Keith Ford added 114 yards on 18 rushes delivered runs of five, two and one yard that resulted in scores.
The Trojans were deadlocked at 28-28 with Western Michigan and 7:54 left in the fourth quarter on Saturday when junior tailback Ronald Jones II scored on a 37-yard scamper and 6:57 left en route to a 49-31 triumph at the Coliseum.
Jones (game-best 159 yards on 18 rushes) also had a 16-yard dash early in the initial frame that made it 7-0, and added a one-burst with 4:21 left before the half that tied it at 14-14.
Sophomore signal-caller and Heisman Trophy favorite Sam Darnold (289 yards on 23 of 33 with two interceptions) scored on an 11-yard run with 34 seconds left in the third period that evened it at 21-21.
USC freshman running back Stephen Carr (69 yards on seven carries) found the end zone on runs of one and 52 yards in the fourth quarter.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.