by Rob Moseley
For the most part Saturday, Nick Aliotti let his defense do the talking.
Facing an offense averaging nearly 40 points and more than 500 yards per game, Aliotti's Oregon defense held UCLA to two touchdowns and just 283 yards as the No. 3 Ducks posted a resounding 42-14 victory over the No. 12 Bruins in Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.
The 283 yards allowed were the fewest of the season by the UO defense, and the second time an opponent failed to reach 300, after Virginia managed 298. The stout performance Saturday followed a season-high 559 yards allowed the week before, to Washington State, many of them late in the game against Oregon's backups, which Aliotti expressed frustration with in his postgame comments.
After Saturday's game, it was a more reserved Aliotti that took the podium for postgame interviews.
"I used to be more fun," he joked.
Saturday wasn't very fun for the Bruins.
UCLA scored twice off UO mistakes in the first half, capitalizing on a fumble early in the first quarter and a blocked punt in the second to forge a 14-14 halftime tie. In the second half, the Bruins rushed 22 times for 73 yards, and had seven passes for 21.
"Sometimes you like to take a lot of credit for something you do at halftime, and people either think you do something really fancy or something unbelievable," Aliotti said. "The magic is in the kids.
"We simply talked about that, they had two scores on two short fields, and that we're going to come out and dominate the second half. And they listened."
Coming out of halftime, the Bruins had a chance to give Oregon its first second-half deficit of the season. Instead, they managed one first down and then punted.
Two three-and-outs followed. When UCLA finally managed another first down, on its fourth possession of the third quarter, UO safety Avery Patterson foiled its momentum with an interception.
The pick came on the first play of the fourth quarter. After a penalty, the Bruins had third-and-20 from the 50-yard line. Convert, and they had a chance to drive to a tying score at 21-21. An Oregon stop would be crushing. The turnover only made it more so.
"We knew they had to pass," Patterson said. "We showed like we were going to come on a blitz and forced (UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley) into a throw he didn't want to make."
The Ducks scored two minutes later, for a 28-14 lead. Nearly a full quarter remained, but the outcome seemed inevitable by that point. Particularly given the way the Ducks were playing on D.
Oregon's defense finished with a shutout in the second half, something players had talked about doing at halftime.
"I love when they talk dirty to me like that," Aliotti said with a twinkle in his eye, as quotable as ever, if not as controversially as a week ago.
On a night when the Ducks didn't have the luxury of emptying the bench as in weeks past, they still got tackles from 18 different players. Twelve guys had at least three, and eight had at least five.
Notable were the contributions of outside linebacker Boseko Lokombo. He played off the bench for the second week in a row — he called the loss of his starting job "kind of a long story" — but finished with two sacks and an interception.
"The bottom line is, when you're in there you've got to go out there and make plays," Lokombo said. "I've always been a playmaker, and I've always tried to bring energy to the team. As long as I'm doing that and we're winning, I'm happy."
His coach was, too. Especially compared with the week before.