Nebraska's Blackshirts were literally wearing black shirts on Saturday against UCLA. It didn't help.
The Nebraska defense was gashed by UCLA on the ground throughout the second half as the Bruins scored 38 unanswered points to win 41-21 in Lincoln their first game since the death of redshirt freshman wide receiver Nick Pasquale
"Our goal today was to honor Nick," UCLA coach Jim Mora said after the game. "Our goal today was to come out here and have our players reflect on everything he meant to us and everything that was great about him so that his family sitting at home... We did it for your son. We did it for your son."
Before the game, Nebraska fans released 200 blue and gold balloons in honor of Pasquale, who was killed when he was hit by a car Sunday morning. UCLA had patches on its jerseys with Pasquale's No. 36 while Nebraska had his number on its helmets.
Yes, UCLA's 38 unanswered meant that Nebraska was up 21-3 at one point. But as UCLA's third-quarter barrage kept going, the memory of that lead faded further and further into the distance.
The Bruins scored 28 points in the final nine minutes of the third quarter, and while three of those scores were TD passes from quarterback Brett Hundley, they were set up by UCLA's running game, which obliterated Nebraska's defensive front.
Nebraska gained just 131 yards of offense in the second half, and that offensive output in the first half was a bit of a mirage. While the Cornhusker offense reeled off a 92-yard TD drive, its other two scoring drives directly benefited from UCLA turnovers and started inside the Bruin 30.
Despite being the higher-ranked team, UCLA was an underdog in front of the biggest crowd in Memorial Stadium history. And after the way the Bruins silenced the normally rowdy Big Red faithful and sent them to the exits in the second half, dreams of challenging the Pac-12's supreme overlords Stanford and USC aren't farfetched. Despite the early struggles of USC, the Pac-12 could be the nation's second-best conference, and UCLA is a big reason why.
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