Darron Thomas threw for a career-high 308 yards and three touchdowns and Oregon pounded UCLA 60-13 on Thursday night in its first game ever as the top-ranked team in the country.
The Ducks’ victory stopped a run of losses for the No. 1 team. Alabama lost to South Carolina two weekends ago and Ohio State lost at Wisconsin last week.
LaMichael James, the nation’s top rusher, finished with 123 yards and two TDs on the ground for Oregon (7-0, 4-0) after spending part of the first quarter on the sideline with an apparent injury. Reserve Remene Alston ran for three scores.
Thomas said it wasn’t anything special.
"Not at all," Thomas said. "Just going out doing what we have to do like every week."
The last time the No. 1 team in The Associated Press Top 25 lost in three consecutive weeks was November 1960, when Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri all fell.
The Bruins (3-4, 1-3) were without quarterback Kevin Prince, who did not suit up against the Ducks because of a knee injury. He was replaced by sophomore Richard Brehaut, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 159 yards.
James, getting increasing Heisman buzz, went down late in the first with what appeared to be an ankle injury. But before long, the dynamic back was high-stepping on the sidelines and returned.
James has 971 yards in six games, an average of 161.8. It was the sophomore’s 14th career game with at least 100 yards.
James ran 8 yards for the opening touchdown. While he rested on the sideline after going down, Alston added a 1-yard scoring plunge and Nate Costa ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 15-0.
After Kai Forbath made a 25-yard field goal for the Bruins, Thomas hit Josh Huff for a 22-yard touchdown pass and tight end David Paulson for a 6-yard score to make it 29-3.
Thomas added a 3-yard TD pass to Jeff Maehl in the second half, and James scored on a 6-yard run. Thomas completed 22 of 31 passes, and also ran for 48 yards.
"They gave us some looks we could throw in," Thomas said. "Our receivers made good plays on the ball. A lot of wide-open guys."
Alston had a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs in the fourth, including one set up by a Brehaut fumble.
Brehaut, who made his first career start earlier this season in UCLA’s 42-28 victory over Washington State, passed for 159 yards and ran for a 6-yard score with 1:53 left in the game.
UCLA, which runs a Pistol offense, came into the game averaging just 95.5 yards passing.
Oregon was simply overwhelming.
"Well they were terrific tonight on all cylinders, the pace of play, the quarterback hitting almost everything," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "We were having a hard time keeping up."
The Bruins also was without receiver Josh Smith and F-back Morrell Presley, who were suspended for the game for violating team rules. Neuheisel has refused to comment on the specifics.
UCLA leads the series against Oregon 39-24, but the Ducks have won the last three. The Bruins’ last win over a No. 1 team came in the 1976 Rose Bowl against Ohio State.
Oregon fans turned out to celebrate the ranking, many wearing yellow for the benefit of the national television audience.
"We’ve been here since 1959 and never have we been No. 1. For a long time it was just year after year of losing. Terrible," said 76-year-old Ginger Newman, who was at the game with her husband, Mel Newman, 80.
While the Ducks were No. 1 in the AP media poll, they were ranked No. 2 in the first BCS rankings released this past Sunday, behind Oklahoma.