It proved to be the right decision as the Bruins beat the No. 3 team in the country for the second time in three games.
Pulled after a sub-par first half last weekend, McCann overcame a difficult opening 30 minutes to lead the No. 14 Bruins to a 23-20 comeback victory over Michigan on Saturday.
McCann passed for 236 yards and two second-half touchdowns including a 2-yarder to Ed Ieremia-Stansbury with 6:30 remaining to put the Bruins ahead for the first time.
"I think we proved we were the No. 1 team in the nation," said McCann, a third-year sophomore who completed 21 of 40 passes. "I don't know who else we can beat, or what else we can do.
"The first half, we were so close. The second half, we executed and showed everybody what we could do."
"I told him, `This is your game to win, don't look behind you,' " Toledo said. "This game was for the program. If we were going to be among the elite teams in the country, we had to make a statement today. I think we made it."
The Bruins (3-0), who opened the season with a 35-24 victory over then-No. 3 Alabama on Sept. 2, moved 85 yards on seven plays to go ahead for the first time.
Holder Drew Bennett bobbled a low snap from center on the extra-point try, leaving UCLA with a three-point lead and opening the door for the Wolverines (2-1) to tie with a field goal. However, Hayden Epstein, who had a tough time kicking all day, was wide left on a 24-yarder with 3:27 left.
Then, with 1:28 remaining and Michigan at the UCLA 25, John Navarre's pass over the middle was intercepted by Jason Stephens. The Bruins then ran out the clock.
"I was just playing my normal zone, and when I saw the ball coming, I was in disbelief," Stephens said. "The closer it got, the bigger it got. The minute I caught the ball, I started to cry."
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said the Wolverines had no excuses.
Carr said. "They came up with the turnover at the end. I think McCann played extremely well."
That's more than could be said for Navarre, a redshirt freshman filling in for the injured Drew Henson. Navarre entered the game leading the nation in passing efficiency, but had a horrible time against UCLA, completing 8 of 28 passes for 111 yards and going 1-for-10 for 37 yards in the second half.
"It's a learning experience, and it's not the way you want to learn," Navarre said.
McCann, 6-of-19 for 76 yards in the first half, was 15-of-21 for 150 yards after halftime. He was yanked after going 12-of-23 for 106 yards in the first half of a 24-21 victory over Fresno State.
"He made a couple bad decisions in the beginning, but he proved he was a good enough quarterback to beat us," cornerback James Whitley said.
The Bruins dominated the second half, taking advantage of the hot, smoggy weather at the Rose Bowl, where a crowd of 88,044 cheered them on. It was 100 degrees at kickoff time, and 110 at the beginning of the second half.
"This is one of the hottest games that I've ever been in, and it got hotter as the score got closer," Toledo said. "We were both wearing down."
UCLA gained 266 yards in the final 30 minutes to 180 for Michigan, and outscored the Wolverines 20-7 after halftime.
UCLA's DeShaun Foster, held to 12 yards on eight carries in the first half, finished with 95 yards on 24 carries. Freddie Mitchell caught seven passes in the second half and 10 overall for 137 yards.
Michigan's Anthony Thomas gained 182 yards on 24 carries to surpass the 100-yard mark for the 11th time in 12 games and move up to fifth on the Wolverine's career rushing list.
Thomas burst 68 yards up the middle on a third-and-inches play to give the Wolverines a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter, making it 11 straight games in which the 6-foot-2, 223-pound senior has scored a touchdown. Epstein missed the conversion.
UCLA's Chris Griffith kicked a 29-yard field goal eight seconds into the second quarter. However, the Wolverines made it 13-3 less than 2 1/2 minutes later on a 29-yard pass from Navarre to David Terrell on the first play after Justin Fargas stripped the ball from punt returner Ricky Manning and Dan Rumishek recovered.
A 5-yard run by Foster capped an 80-yard, 14-play UCLA drive following the second-half kickoff. The Bruins converted three third-down plays in as many chances after going 0-for-8 in the first half.
After an exchange of punts, Michigan moved 57 yards on five plays to extend its lead to 20-10. Navarre threw a 37-yard pass to Terrell to begin the drive his only completion of the second half
and Chris Perry capped it with a 9-yard sweep of right end.
UCLA responded by driving 80 yards on 10 plays, with McCann throwing a 20-yard scoring pass to Brian Poli-Dixon to cut Michigans lead to 20-17.
Epstein missed a 46-yard field goal with 13:36 remaining, and the Bruins quickly moved to the Michigan 33, but Ieremia-Stansbury fumbled, and Norman Boebert recovered for the Wolverines. Ieremia-Stansbury would later take advantage of an opportunity to atone.
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