PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Houston's high-scoring offense never got untracked Saturday night because of a hard-hitting UCLA defense and its own mistakes.
That combination nearly resulted in the Cougars' first shutout loss in almost 12 years.
"They played well, which gave our offense trouble," first-year Houston coach Tony Levine said after No. 22 UCLA beat the Cougars 37-6. "They've got a tremendous pass rush and they showed it in their first two games."
The teams combined for 11 turnovers — six by Houston. Sheldon Price tied a school record with three of UCLA's five interceptions against Houston's David Piland.
"As well as the defense played, our offense should have produced, and we didn't," Piland said. "That's on me. We've got a lot to work out this week. "
The Cougars are off to their first 0-3 start since 2001, when they went 0-11. They were 13-1 last season including a 38-34 season-opening victory over the Bruins, but coach Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M and many of their best players moved on as well.
"I thought there were things we did poorly last week we improved on, especially tackling against a great UCLA offense," Levine said. "When you create that many turnovers, it gives you a chance to win the game. Unfortunately, we turned it over on our end offensively."
Redshirt freshman Brett Hundley completed 27 of 42 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, Johnathan Franklin gained 110 yards on 25 carries, and Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked three field goals for the Bruins to help the unbeaten Bruins earn their third straight victory under first-year coach Jim Mora.
"We played outstanding defense tonight except for one play," said Mora, referring to an 86-yard run by Piland with 4:54 remaining that kept the Cougars from being shut out for the first time since Texas beat them 48-0 on Sept. 23, 2000. "We're still trying to put it all together. But you take a win any time you can get it.
"We're 3-0 going into conference play and that's a real positive."
The Bruins (3-0) face Oregon State (1-0) in the Pac-12 opener for both teams next Saturday at the Rose Bowl, where an enthusiastic crowd of 53,723 watched UCLA dominate Houston from start to finish.
Franklin, a senior who averaged 215.5 yards in his team's first two games to rank first nationally, moved into second place on UCLA's career rushing list with 3,210 yards. Gaston Green gained 3,731 yards in the 1980s.