The Rose Bowl promises to be buzzing when UCLA welcomes its most prominent visitor since the Bruins beat LSU in Week 1, No. 10-ranked Oregon.
In an ironic twist, LSU's visit over Labor Day weekend marked the last time UCLA won at home. The Bruins (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) dropped games to Fresno State and Arizona State, the latter their sole blemish in Pac-12 play thus far.
With ESPN's "College GameDay" coming to town and head coach Chip Kelly facing his former program, UCLA aims to get back on track at the Rose Bowl in the hope of playing in the Rose Bowl come January.
No. 10 Oregon at UCLA
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: UCLA -1.5
When Oregon Has the Ball
The Autzen Stadium crowd did not shy away from calling for a change at quarterback during Oregon's three-plus offensively anemic quarters last week against Cal. Despite this, Anthony Brown rallied to lead the Ducks (5-1, 2-1) on two fourth-quarter scoring drives.
Brown capped the first with a 20-yard pass to Jaylon Redd and the second (and game-winner) on a carry. Brown's shown the capacity to carry enough of the load to prevent Oregon from becoming too one-dimensional on offense, but he needs to do so more consistently with running back CJ Verdell out of the lineup.
Travis Dye was excellent handling the majority of ball-carrying duties against a good Cal defense, but he needs more support to help the Ducks complete drives. In particular, Oregon must connect on long pass plays, which was UCLA's weakness in losses to Fresno State and Arizona State.
The Bruins rank near the bottom of all FBS defenses in explosive passing plays surrendered (passes gaining at least 10 yards) with 74. Four of those have gone for at least 40 yards.
When UCLA Has the Ball
Kelly-coached teams, dating back to his days at Oregon, are at their best with a multifaceted rushing attack. Such has been the case for UCLA, which is undefeated when running back Zach Charbonnet eclipses 100 yards.
Against Washington, Charbonnet and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson combined to surpass 200 yards on the ground. Thompson-Robinson also went 21-of-26 passing with a couple of touchdowns, arguably his best individual performance of the season.
Thompson-Robinson's reaction to consistent pressure will shape Saturday's contest. He cannot bail out of the pocket too early, which happened against Arizona State. But he must also be aware of standout defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who looked like he was back at 100 percent in the second half against Cal.
Tight end Greg Dulcich is a player to watch. His dependability on either deep or mid-range passes can force the Oregon honest to play the run honestly.
Oregon has yet to recapture the same dominance it showed in its Week 2 convincing win at Ohio State. Saturday is a prime spot for the Ducks to re-establish themselves as the team to beat in the Pac-12.
UCLA has looked like a world-beater capable of winning its first conference championship since 1998 at times. The Bruins also have been vulnerable against aggressive defenses and athletic offenses, both of which Oregon has.
The UCLA defense must make this game about Brown as much as possible.
Prediction: Oregon 31, UCLA 28
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