Pasadena, CA – Jim Mora took over UCLA's sputtering football program last season and made it relevant again. And with key pieces returning, expectations in Pasadena are high.
The Bruins got off to a soaring start.
Brett Hundley, one of those key returning pieces, threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores in No. 21 UCLA's 58-20 thumping of Nevada.
The Bruins (1-0) scored 41 points in the second half to turn the game into a laugher.
"I was happy with the way we came out of the huddle in the second half, both offensively and defensively. The blocked punt was a huge momentum changer for us," Mora said.
Hundley, whose 4,095 yards of total offense last year as a freshman broke Cade McNown's single-season school record, was 22-of-33 and added 63 yards on the ground for the Bruins, who won the Pac-12 South title last year, but fell to Stanford, 27-24, in the conference's title game.
UCLA won nine games last year, the most since 2005. The Bruins haven't won at least nine games in back-to-back seasons since 1997 and 1998. The Bruins had gone 10-16 over their previous two seasons prior to Mora's arrival.
Jordon James carried the ball 21 times for 155 yards and a touchdown and Shaquelle Evans caught six passes for 81 yards and a TD in the triumph.
Cody Fajardo ran for 106 yards and two scores, while going 19-of-32 through the air for 164 yards for the Wolf Pack (0-1), who were unable to win in head coach Brian Polian's debut.
Polian was selected to take over for Hall of Fame coach and the originator of the Pistol offense, Chris Ault. Nevada went 7-6 last season and are coming off its eighth straight bowl appearance.
Fajardo ran it in from a yard out with seven seconds left in the opening half to cap an 11-play, 81-yard drive and bring the Wolf Pack within 17-13 heading into the break, but 20 straight UCLA points to start the second half put the game away.
Hundley's 11-yard TD sprint concluded the Bruins' initial offensive possession of the second half. Kenny Orjioke then blocked Chase Tenpenny's punt following a Nevada three-and-out, which Phillip Ruhl scooped it up for a 4-yard score.
"It was a great drive by the offense in the two minute drill right before the half to make it 17-13, but then the blocked punt was the difference-maker in the entire football game. We simply cannot allow that to happen," Polian said.
Hundley's 19-yard strike to Jalen Ortiz preceded James' 26-yard touchdown run, which finished off an 10-play, 65-yard sequence and gave the hosts a 37-13 edge.
Fajardo ran in for a 19-yard touchdown on the second play of the fourth before UCLA rattled off three more scores to pull away.
Paul Perkins had a 3-yard TD run, Malcolm Jones hauled in a 25-yard score from Hundley and then plunged in from a yard out midway through the frame to increase the margin to 58-20.
Earlier, Hundley's 37-yard burst down the right sideline for a touchdown opened the scoring on UCLA's first possession before Nevada answered with a Brent Zuzo 28-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Ka'imi Fairbairn and Zuzo exchanged made field goals in the second, 40 and 21 yards, respectively, to give UCLA a 10-6 lead. The Bruins responded following Zuzo's field goal as Hundley flipped a 5-yard score to Evans to conclude a 10- play, 73-yard march, which upped the UCLA advantage to 17-6 late in the second.
UCLA had 12 receivers with at least one reception ... UCLA outgained Nevada, 647-353 ... The Bruins totaled 345 yards rushing ... UCLA committed 12 penalties for 93 yards.