PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — UCLA’s defense sacked Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders seven times and the 23rd-ranked Bruins broke open a close game at halftime with three second-half touchdowns in a 28-16 victory over the Buffaloes.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly had a simple message for his team at halftime — get in the holiday spirit. In this case, the one on Tuesday and not looking ahead to the one two months from now.
“I had to remind our kids that this was Halloween, not Christmas. We need to stop giving away gifts. And let’s just make sure that it’s Halloween, so let’s put your scary masks on and go play,” Kelly said.
After committing four turnovers in the first half, the 23rd-ranked Bruins broke open a close game with three second-half touchdowns and haunted Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders all night en route to a 28-16 victory over the Buffaloes on Saturday night.
UCLA (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) led 7-6 at halftime, but scored touchdowns on three of its first four drives in the second half to take control. That helped turn the tide from a first half where they turned it over on four of their seven possessions, including two in the red zone.
The Bruins posted seven sacks in a game for the first time since 2019 and are fourth nationally with 31. Five players were credited with at least half a sack as linebacker Laiatu Latu led the way with two.
It is the third time this season Sanders has been sacked at least seven times in a game. The Buffaloes (4-4, 1-4) have allowed 42 this season, the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision according to SportRadar.
Colorado coach Deion Sanders said his son received a pain-killing injection at halftime.
“Probably shouldn’t tell you that, but you know I’m 100. We’re going to give him the next few days off, because I know once that block is off, he’s going to feel it tonight. We’ve got to do a better job protecting him,” Deion Sanders said.
Shedeur Sanders finished 27 of 43 for 217 yards and a touchdown. Alejandro Mata had three field goals and Travis Hunter had a pair of interceptions.
It appeared as if a Sanders-coached team would not find the end zone for the first time in his four seasons as a collegiate coach until Jimmy Horn Jr. caught an 18-yard TD with 2:37 remaining.
“We just weren’t on the same page tonight, overall, but we just got to watch the film and get better,” Shedeur Sanders said.
The Bruins got the second-half kickoff and went 75 yards in two plays, including Garbers’ 26-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Moliki Matavao to make it 14-6 35 seconds into the third quarter.
“We came in at halftime and we said, ‘Hey, we are letting our defense down a little bit and got to pick it up.’ We came out (on) a two-play drive in the second half and scored,” said Garbers, who was 20 of 27 for 269 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. “This offense has a bunch of resiliency. We know how to bounce back and when to bounce back.”
Garbers, who got his third start this season, gave the Bruins a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter with a 3-yard TD pass to Carson Steele.
T.J. Harden and Collin Schlee had fourth-quarter rushing scores. Logan Loya had seven receptions for 111 yards for the Bruins.
Colorado scored on its first two drives and took a 6-0 lead as Mata connected on field goals from 31 and 39 yards. The Buffaloes had a short field on their second possession after Hunter’s first interception at the UCLA 36-yard line.
“We played against one of the best defenses in the Pac-12 and in the country today,” Deion Sanders said. “We came out and went right down the field and we didn’t get six, we got three, and then we came back and got another three. We showed some things that we could do. The consistency just isn’t there at this point because of the lack of talent at certain positions.”
Colorado safety Shilo Sanders was ejected for targeting late in the second quarter when his shoulder hit on UCLA tight end Carsen Ryan connected to the chin and face mask area.
Sanders celebrated and flexed after the hit while penalty flags flew around him.
Earlier in the quarter, Sanders’ shoulder forced Steele to fumble for UCLA’s second turnover of the half. The normally reliable Steele had two fumbles in the first half.
“He’s got to keep it low. If you keep it low, there’s no question. I believe he was not in fault, because he turned his shoulder,” Deion Sanders said. “He was having a heck of a game. He was dominant on the defensive side of the ball. I was proud of him. I’m sorry this transpired, but I was proud of his effort.”
Colorado: The Buffaloes have dropped four of their last five and will have a tough road finding two wins the rest of the way if they want to get bowl eligible.
UCLA: The Bruins are the sixth team from the Pac-12 to become bowl eligible. It also marks the first time since 2015 they have been bowl eligible in at least three straight seasons.
UCLA should go up a couple spots as the Pac-12 should have at least six ranked teams for a ninth straight week.