The UCLA Bruins and Illinois Fighting Illini met for their showdown in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Saturday. Although for most of the first three quarters it looked like the Bruins would prevail and even out their 2011 season at 7-7, they ended up taking the 20-14 loss.
New head coach Jim Mora was in attendance to watch and cheer on the UCLA team that he'll be taking over in 2012. There's no telling what Mora thought of the performance that the Bruins put on Saturday, but we can take a look at some of the numbers.
The most telling stat of all, the one that speaks volumes, is that Illinois outrushed UCLA to the tune of 179 yards to just 19. Those scant yards are due to sack after sack that the Illini delivered to Bruins quarterback Kevin Prince. Prince was sacked five times in the game and threw a pick-six with just 0:43 remaining in the third quarter. The Bruins were ahead 7-3 at that point and had just taken over possession following a missed Illinois field goal. The interception was the key turning point in the game. Who can say what could have happened had the Bruins made another scoring drive on that possession?
Another part of that rushing yards stat is the disparity between quarterback rushing yards. Prince finished the game with -31 rushing yards due to the sacks. His counterpart, Nathan Scheelhaase accrued 110 rushing yards in addition to his 139 passing yards. He even managed to pick up nine receiving yards on a pass from his wide receiver.
The Illini offense may have taken a while to fully get going, but with defense that much stronger than the UCLA team, Illinois was able to effectively take a late lead and hold onto it.
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