Jim Mora's UCLA Bruins are gaining but not there yet

UCLA played Stanford, Oregon tough for a half but lost. Despite Saturday's 42-14 loss to Ducks, Bruins are moving closer to Pac-12 elite.

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EUGENE, Ore. — So what we know about UCLA is it trailed Stanford by three at the half last week in Palo Alto and, Saturday night, took Oregon into intermission tied at 14-all.

It was so unexpected it brought to mind that famous headline "Harvard beats Yale, 29-29!"

UCLA was not half bad, but also was not good enough.

PHOTOS: UCLA falls to Oregon, 42-14

Second-year Coach Jim Mora has pushed his program through the front door of the Pac-12's two best football lobbies but still can't avoid the trap-door finishes.

Oregon won in the end, a convincing 42-14 victory at Autzen Stadium.

The final score was more important for Oregon than it was for UCLA.

Oregon is in a national-title chase the Bruins hope to be in someday. The Ducks are No. 2 in the major polls but were No. 3 in the first Bowl Championship Series standings behind Alabama and Florida State.

Those teams scored pummeling wins against Tennessee and North Carolina State, respectively.

Oregon has to keep crushing quality Pac-12 opponents and wait for its BCS computer numbers to catch up — which could happen as soon as Sunday.

UCLA needs to discard the final result and assess the defeat in proper context.

The Bruins made Oregon work. They started three freshmen on the offensive line and played the No. 2 team, straight up, for almost three quarters.

They held Oregon well under its season per-game average of 57.6 points.

UCLA scored first, blocked a punt and recovered two fumbles.

In 99% of other venues that leads to victory.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw a couple of horrific interceptions but also injected fear in the opposing team's game plan.

He passed for only 64 yards but rushed for 72.

"He made two big plays with his feet I wish he would not have," Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said. "That's a good football team. He's a good football player and Jim Mora is a good football coach."

Aliotti said his defense played as well as it has in a long time. "And we needed it for a while," said Aliotti, who was UCLA's defensive coordinator in 1998.

UCLA made Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota play into the fourth quarter for only the third time this season.

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