UCLA football looks to break home losing streak with Oregon matchup
Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson jukes an Arizona State defender. Thompson-Robinson and UCLA football will take on No. 10 Oregon on Saturday with a chance to win its first game against a top-10 opponent since 2010. (Kanishka Mehra/Daily Bruin senior staff)
No. 10 Oregon
Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
By Jared Tay
Oct. 21, 2021 1:45 a.m.
In mathematics, the transitive property describes a relation where if A is greater than B and B is greater than C, then A must also be greater than C.
But so far, the Pac-12 hasn’t followed the same transitive logic.
UCLA football (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) will match up against No. 10 Oregon (5-1, 2-1) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, and the Ducks and Bruins have both beaten opponents to which the other lost.
“I don’t care about who won to what, who did what, the transitive process of this game was close, that game equals that thing,” coach Chip Kelly said in September. “We don’t talk about that.”
Kelly’s sentiments were in response to a question about the strength of Fresno State, whom UCLA hosted at the Rose Bowl later that week. The Bulldogs had recently lost to the Ducks in a one-posession game Sept. 4, and the next week Oregon was successful in defeating then-No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.
UCLA lost to that same Fresno State team on a last-minute touchdown drive, its first home defeat of the season.
“We don’t sit in our meetings and say, ‘This score was closer in this game, this team went and beat that team, so that means that this team is that,’” Kelly said ahead of the Fresno State loss. “That’s way too complicated for us.”
The Ducks reached a ranking of No. 4 in the nation after their win over the Big Ten powerhouse. After a win in the ensuing week, they reached a season-high ranking of No. 3 in the nation. However, they fell from the top five after an overtime loss to Stanford on Oct. 2.
UCLA had beaten Stanford on the road just the week before.
Although the transitive property may not apply to college football, Kelly said having game footage of the Ducks against common opponents is helpful.
“You’re comparing something that you’ve seen in person,” Kelly said after Wednesday’s practice. “You see (an opponents’ player) get thrown to the ground, and you’re like, ‘Maybe he doesn’t have great pillar strength. Well, we played against that kid. That kid’s really strong; he threw our guys to the ground.’”
In terms of a direct matchup against one another, however, the last time UCLA saw Oregon was in 2020, when the Bruins lost 38-35 in Eugene. UCLA has faced Oregon twice in Kelly’s tenure as a Bruin and lost both times.
The Ducks currently have a new signal-caller under center in Anthony Brown, a dual-threat quarterback who has logged seven touchdowns through the air and five with his legs.
Facing a mobile quarterback won’t be new to the Bruins, who have seen a similar skill set with Arizona’s Jordan McCloud, Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels and Hawai’i’s Chevan Cordeiro.
“(We’ve learned) from our past mistakes in previous games,” said redshirt junior linebacker Ale Kaho. “They’re shifty and can move around the pocket. At the end of the day, it just comes down to doing our assignment and tackling the ball carrier, running to the ball.”
Both the Ducks and Bruins enter Saturday’s contest coming off a win, but after trailing California 17-10 in the fourth quarter in Eugene last week, Oregon was on the receiving end of a stream of boos raining down at Autzen Stadium.
UCLA, meanwhile, is returning home to the Rose Bowl after two consecutive games on the road, but it hasn’t secured a win in Pasadena since its win over then-No. 16 LSU.
“(The fans) know the performances we’ve had at home the past two games, and we know that too,” said senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. “We know we’ve got to improve, and we know we’ve got to be better come Saturday to be able to play really good in front of a good home crowd.”
The Bruins haven’t recorded a win over an opponent ranked in the top 10 since 2010. Last week, UCLA tallied its first season of at least five wins under Kelly – the same coach who led Oregon to a 46-7 record from 2009 to 2012.
A win over the Ducks would ensure a regular-season record of at least .500 for the Bruins, guaranteeing UCLA eligibility for a postseason bowl for the first time under Kelly.
Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl, and the game will air on ABC.