PASADENA — It took a while and a bit of a scare, but UCLA opened a season featuring high expectations with a 45-17 win over Bowling Green on Saturday, as a record-low 27,143 fans made the trip to the Rose Bowl in triple-digit temperatures.
UCLA trailed 17-7 at one point, but outscored Bowling Green – the first MAC team to play in the Rose Bowl in the FBS era – 38-0 the rest of the way for a season-opening win. The Bruins put up more than 600 yards of offense, and the defense pitched a shutout in the second half.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson was 32 of 43 for 298 yards and two touchdowns, including an eight-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter that put the game away. Zach Charbonnet opened the season with a 100-yard rushing game — 111 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown.
The Bruins dominated the stat sheet, but early mishaps forced them to play from behind for much of the first half. UCLA committed two turnovers in the first quarter, a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and an interception, along with another turnover on downs.
Bowling Green capitalized, with Charles Rosser scooping and scoring off the blocked punt from 11 yards out. Bobo muffed a punt at his own 10-yard line, leading to a field goal. And early in the second quarter, McDonald dumped a 22-yard pass off to Christian Sims for a touchdown as part of an eight play, 73-yard drive.
Thompson-Robinson had UCLA’s only big play early in the game, a 68-yard scamper for a touchdown that tied the game at 7 in the first quarter.
The Bruins looked more like themselves in the second quarter, taking the lead thanks to a pair of catch-and-run scores by Kazmeir Allen and Keegan Jones for a 24-17 halftime lead.
Charbonnet punched in a 4-yard touchdown run on UCLA’s opening drive of the second half. It was a drive that featured him heavily with five runs and a pass reception.
UCLA pulled Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet midway through the fourth quarter, with Ethan Garbers quarterback playing the rest of the way.
More to come on this story.