No. 17 Nebraska can't stop UCLA in 36-30 loss
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Nebraska ran onto UCLA's hallowed home turf Saturday hoping to take another step toward a return visit to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
Although that second trip is still possible, the No. 17 Cornhuskers now realize they've got an awful lot of work to do first.
Brett Hundley passed for 305 yards and four touchdowns in an outstanding Rose Bowl debut, Datone Jones sacked Taylor Martinez for a tiebreaking safety with 8:44 to play, and UCLA surprised Nebraska 36-30.
Martinez passed for 179 yards and made a 92-yard TD run in his return to his native Southern California, but his offense couldn't keep up with UCLA after that decisive sack. Ameer Abdullah rushed for career highs of 119 yards and two touchdowns for the Huskers (1-1), who struggled on both sides of the ball in the second half and failed to go 2-0 for the first time since 2004.
"I'm embarrassed by how we played today, and I point the thumb at me first," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "We didn't play well in any phase of the game, in my opinion. We were inconsistent, our fundamentals were lousy, and that leads to bad things happening. I give UCLA credit, but I'm disappointed."
Nebraska's defense had its worst statistical game in a half-decade, giving up 653 yards to a UCLA offense with a freshman quarterback, a new coaching staff and an offensive line with three freshmen starters. The Blackshirts hadn't given up 600 yards since Missouri went for 606 in 2007, and hadn't allowed 300 yards rushing since Texas did it that same year.
"You've got to give them credit, (but) we didn't come to play tonight, and it showed," Nebraska linebacker Will Compton said. "We definitely didn't plan on this happening, but I definitely feel we're going to come back strong."
Martinez went 17 for 31, but just 4 for 14 after halftime on the field where the Corona, Calif., native always imagined playing for the Bruins, who only recruited him as a safety and never offered him a scholarship.
After Jones put the Bruins ahead in a defense-dominated second half, Andrew Abbott intercepted a long pass by Martinez and returned it to the Nebraska 16, setting up Johnathan Franklin's 8-yard TD catch with 2:13 to play for UCLA.
Brett Maher's third field goal pulled the Huskers within 36-30 with 1:38 left, but UCLA recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock on just its second win over Nebraska in eight meetings since 1973.
"We can still get everything we want," Compton said. "The Big Ten championship, everything else is still within our grasp. We've just got to go out and get it."
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