PASADENA – They started the week with a comeback full of drama and packed with memories.
They finished the week with a victory devoid of suspense and – for good reasons – largely forgettable.
And that’s exactly what the UCLA Bruins should have done Saturday, winning for the second time in seven days, this one against a predictably innocuous opponent but in a spot no less dangerous.
This 56-23 shredding of Hawaii was a delightful yawner, a game that essentially ended before the first quarter did.
If ever a team needed to handle a blatant underdog without any heavy breathing, it was these Bruins, who exhausted a season’s worth of emotions in their opening victory and faced the possibility – no matter how remote – of tossing it all away just six days later.
Let’s be honest here. It wouldn’t have been the first time a favored UCLA team produced a lacking performance that defied logic.
Now, the Bruins were hardly without flaw. The defense, in particular, already has been battered by injury and surrendered another 281 rushing yards.
But UCLA was plenty good enough against an opponent that was undefeated, sure, but reached 2-0 with victories against Massachusetts and Western Carolina.
The romp was in direct contrast to UCLA’s win here Sunday over Texas A&M, a game that refused to end despite repeatedly appearing to be over.
There was a common thread, though, quarterback Josh Rosen continuing to lead a Bruins offense that, at the moment, can be stopped only by a draining clock.
Over the past five-plus quarters when Rosen has been in the game, UCLA has scored on 12 of 14 possessions, the two empty ones coming when time expired and the Bruins weren’t actually trying to score.
“It’s been an exciting time,” offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. “I’m pretty happy with where he is in terms of leading the first offense…Now we just have to continue and not lose any momentum.”
Against Texas A&M, the Bruins produced the school’s greatest comeback ever and the second biggest in FBS history, winning 45-44.
That game lasted until the waning seconds, UCLA clinching victory with a final defensive stop in the closing minute.
The question of a possible emotional hangover was answered almost immediately against the Rainbow Warriors, thanks to Rosen and a right arm that might be outfitted with sights.
After stopping Hawaii and forcing a punt, UCLA’s first drive started at its own 1-yard line, at which point a false start penalty cost the…