Derrick Coleman rushed for 135 yards - all in the second half - and UCLA survived a lackluster performance to beat San Jose State 27-17, handing the 21-point underdog Spartans their 24th loss in 27 games dating back to the beginning of the 2009 season.
San Jose State, pulverized 57-3 by No. 6 Stanford in its season-opener, played the Bruins on even terms for most of the game.
''We felt we should have come out with a victory tonight,'' said second-year San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre, who guided the Spartans to a 1-12 record last season. ''We're down about losing, but overall we improved in every aspect and we didn't make any bonehead plays until the end.''
The teams were tied at 17-all before Kip Smith's 20-yard field goal with 7:31 remaining put the Bruins ahead for good. Derrick Coleman's 24-yard touchdown run with 3:35 left clinched the victory.
''A win is a defining moment,'' MacIntyre said. ''Our young men are down because we lost. It was a wasted opportunity tonight. But we're moving in the right direction.''
San Jose State's Dasmen Stewart, making his first career start as a replacement for Matt Faulkner, was 15 of 31 for 111 yards and one interception and rushed for 47 yards on nine carries. Faulkner, who played most of the season-opener, sat out the game after experiencing concussion-like symptoms during the week.
''He did really well. I liked the way he ran the ball and moved the offense,'' MacIntyre said of Stewart.
''I felt good and comfortable and got into the game plan well,'' Stewart said. ''Our line protected us and we ran the all well. I was able to see the defense and make the right reads, but I still have to do a better job.''
MacIntyre said Faulkner didn't pass a concussion test on Thursday, clearing the way for Stewart to make his first start.
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, who has guided the Bruins to a 16-23 record since being hired before the 2008 season, has one year left on his contract after this season and knows he has to win now to achieve job security.
''It's never easy to win in college football,'' he said. ''We're 1-1, we've got a lot of things to fix. We have to see if we can get this season jump-started.
''My take is we had a chance to blink and we didn't. We found a way to take the game to them. I'm excited for our first win. It was tougher than we had hoped. We were not good enough early to convert third down opportunities, but we did not blink. The defense improved over Week One. It was not a pretty win, but better than the alternative.''
San Jose State knows all about the alternative, having lost 17 straight road games dating back to 2008 and 33 of its last 36 games against teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences.
UCLA now has a 33-2-1 record against Cal State schools and has won 21 of its last 25 non-conference home games.
The Bruins (1-1) rolled up 417 yards of total offense while the Spartans (0-2), held to 27 yards on the ground by Stanford, gained 202 on the ground and 115 through the air. Brandon Rutley led San Jose State with 81 yards on nine carries and David Freeman picked up 52 yards on eight carries.
Richard Brehaut played the entire game at quarterback for the Bruins. Kevin Prince, who started UCLA's 38-34 season-opening loss at Houston but left in the second quarter after sustaining a minor concussion and sprained right shoulder, watched from the bench.
San Jose State tied the game at 17-all with 4:30 left in the third quarter on a career-long 65-yard run by Rutley, and the Spartans had a chance to take the lead after Tiuke Tuipulotu recovered Franklin's fumble at the UCLA 34 - the first of four turnovers in a span of 6 1/2 minutes.
San Jose State moved to the Bruins' 17 before freshman Blake Jurich's pass over the middle was picked off by Sean Westgate. Jurich was filling in for Stewart, who missed part of the third quarter because of cramps.
The Bruins then moved to the Spartans' 24 before Taylor Embree fumbled after catching a pass and Vince Buhagiar recovered at the 19. But Sheldon Price picked off a pass by Stewart at the San Jose State 37 three plays later, putting the Bruins in position for a 20-yard field goal by freshman Kip Smith with 7:31 remaining that put UCLA ahead for good.
Aided by two 15-yard penalties, the Bruins moved 69 yards on their second possession for a 7-0 lead, scoring on a 1-yard run by Franklin.
The Spartans responded with a 16-play, 88-yard drive to tie the game. Freeman, who caught an 11-yard pass from Stewart on fourth-and-4 from the UCLA 34, scored the TD on a 1-yard run.
After an exchange of punts, Brehaut's 43-yard pass to Nelson Rosario triggered a 75-yard drive that gave the Bruins a 14-7 lead. The TD came on Brehaut's 14-yard pass to Joseph Fauria on a third-and-11 play with 5:22 left before halftime.
San Jose State got a 25-yard field goal from Harrison Waid early in the third quarter to move within four points, but Smith's 38-yarder a little over three minutes later extended UCLA's lead to 17-10.
The game was the first ever between the teams.
The Bruins' home opener was played before a crowd of 42,685 at the Rose Bowl, where numerous changes were visible as part of a three-year, $152 million renovation of the 88-year-old stadium. Among them were a state-of-the-art video board at the north end, a new scoreboard at the south end, widened tunnels and additional aisles.