PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Prince threw for 225 yards and hit tight end Joseph Fauria with two of his career-high four touchdown passes, and UCLA moved within one victory of an improbable Pac-12 South title with a 45-6 win over Colorado on Saturday night.
Johnathan Franklin rushed for 162 yards and a score, while Shaq Evans and Nelson Rosario also caught TD passes for the Bruins (6-5, 5-3), who would play in the Pac-12’s inaugural title game if they can beat archrival Southern California next weekend.
Tyler Hansen passed for 127 yards and threw three interceptions for the Buffaloes (2-10, 1-7), who extended a dismal school record with their 23rd consecutive road defeat. One week after snapping a seven-game skid by beating Arizona, Colorado fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter and never threatened UCLA.
The Bruins outgained Colorado 553-229 despite committing nine penalties for 102 yards, with Prince methodically chewing up Colorado’s defense with all the poise UCLA has always hoped it would see from the up-and-down junior. Prince went 15 for 19 without an interception.
Toney Clemons caught the Buffaloes’ only TD pass in the second quarter.
Even with six wins, UCLA still could end up missing a bowl game — or the Bruins could end up playing again in the Rose Bowl, depending on future developments. But the Bruins have kept things interesting with three wins in their last four games for coach Rick Neuheisel, who’s fighting to keep his job.
After the game, Neuheisel stood on a table and addressed the sparse crowd over the public-address system.
“Despite the naysayers, the fact of the matter is we’re playing for a championship next Saturday!” the fourth-year coach yelled.
UCLA’s five conference victories are easily the most in Neuheisel’s tenure, and the Bruins went 5-1 at the Rose Bowl this season, losing only to Texas.
Colorado coach Jon Embree’s defense held his son, UCLA receiver Taylor Embree, to two catches for 13 yards in the senior’s final home game. Jon Embree didn’t appear to be on the field with his wife, brother and in-laws to greet his son during pregame festivities, but the younger Taylor had said he would understand if his dad had other priorities.
Prince was patient and poised in the Bruins’ pistol offense from the opening drive, completing his first eight passes for 148 yards before his first incompletion early in the second quarter. He hit Evans right down the middle of Colorado’s secondary for a 54-yard TD just 2:38 in, scoring on UCLA’s second offensive snap.
After UCLA linebacker Sean Westgate intercepted Hansen’s tipped pass and got his helmet ripped off his head on a facemask penalty moments later, Franklin rumbled up the middle for a 14-yard TD on the Bruins’ next play.
Fauria dived over the goal line for a 5-yard TD catch in the first quarter, capping a methodical 80-yard drive to put UCLA up 21-0. Colorado answered with its own 80-yard drive capped by Clemons’ 20-yard TD catch after video review reversed an out-of-bounds call, but the Buffaloes missed the extra point.
Fauria caught his second TD pass from 15 yards out early in the fourth quarter. Rosario, who had six catches for 102 yards, leaned over the goal line for an 11-yard score with 8:07 to play, and Malcolm Jones added a late TD dive after Hansen’s third interception.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)