PASADENA, Calif. — UCLA nursed a hangover from consecutive high-profile losses until late in the first quarter, when Brett Hundley ignored the boos and threw a beautiful 76-yard touchdown pass to Devin Fuller right through the heart of the Colorado defense.
There’s nothing wrong with these Bruins that a few more wins couldn’t repair, and Hundley made sure they started the healing process at home.
Hundley threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two more scores, Fuller accounted for three TDs, and No. 17 UCLA shook off those back-to-back losses with a 45-23 victory over Colorado on Saturday night.
Damien Thigpen also ran for a touchdown for the Bruins (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12), who rebounded from road defeats at Stanford and Oregon despite a sluggish start in their homecoming game.
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“It’s a relief, but our confidence was never lost,” Hundley said. “Obviously, I know and we know that we can still get the job done. I feel like this team can really respond well, no matter what we go through.”
UCLA tried and failed to join the Pac-12’s upper echelon over the previous two weeks. The losses followed a similar pattern: The Bruins hung with the West Coast’s best until the second half, but an ineffective offense eventually left its defense on the field too long, leading to one-sided defeats in the final minutes.
Back home, UCLA’s defense finally got help from the offense in a 412-yard performance. The Bruins have outscored their opponents 199-66 in four victories at the Rose Bowl this season, and they buried Colorado early in the second half with a 28-3 surge.
“I hate to admit this, but I thought there was a little hangover,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “We didn’t have the enthusiasm that we typically have. I told them at halftime that I didn’t think we were enjoying the game enough.”
The Bruins won despite 11 penalties for 122 yards, steadily pulling away from Colorado with solid defense and just enough playmaking from Hundley, their sophomore quarterback. Hundley finished with 345 total yards, passing Tom Ramsey and Cory Paus on UCLA’s career yardage list in just his 22nd game with the Bruins.
Hundley passed for 273 yards and scored on runs of 11 and 1 yards. Fuller caught a 6-yard TD pass after his long score, and the sophomore added a rushing TD with 3:36 to play in his most complete game since switching from quarterback to receiver last year.
“We feel good when we can stretch the field like that,” Fuller said. “We also made some drives where we could give the defense some rest, so that’s a complete effort for us.”
Sefo Liufau passed for 247 yards for the Buffaloes (3-5, 0-5), who have lost 13 consecutive Pac-12 games. Colorado hasn’t beaten a ranked team on the road in 21 tries since 2002.
Christian Powell rushed for 97 yards, Tony Jones rushed for a score, and Will Oliver kicked three field goals for the Buffs, who hung around until late in the first half.
“I think it shows we’re making progress,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. “That gives everybody a little bit more confidence. Those kids and coaches in that locker room are all down, but there’s a resilience to them.”
Paul Richardson shook off an injury to catch eight passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
“I think we’re taking a step forward every week,” Liufau said. “Obviously, we want to get a faster result and win games, but it’s not happening right now.”