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UCLA football prepares to contend with Cal for final regular-season game

Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (left) runs the ball in UCLA football’s win over USC on Nov. 20. Thompson-Robinson could potentially be playing his last home game for the Bruins on Saturday when he matches up against California. (Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)

Football


California
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Rose Bowl
FS1

By Kyle Boal

Nov. 27, 2021 10:57 a.m.

One of the most experienced teams in the country will be honoring its veterans Saturday night.

With a senior night celebration on tap, UCLA football (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl against California (4-6, 3-4), with the chance to finish above .500 at home for the first time under coach Chip Kelly. A win would also mark the first season sweep of USC, Stanford and Cal for the blue and gold and the first undefeated November since 1998.

Between current players ranging from redshirt juniors to redshirt seniors, 43 – including every defensive starter – will have the option to be celebrated by the team Saturday despite all student-athletes being given an extra year of eligibility last season because of COVID-19.

Redshirt senior defensive back Obi Eboh, a Stanford transfer who will have exhausted all of his NCAA eligibility after this season, said this week has been sentimental for those potentially leaving the program.

“It’s definitely an emotional time for a lot of the seniors,” Eboh said. “I appreciate all these guys. It just seems like yesterday I was coming in during COVID and trying to figure all this stuff out and now we’re kind of down to our last rope.”

Among those with the option to participate in the pregame ceremony is senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who is coming off a six-touchdown performance in a win over USC and a UCLA Student-Athlete of the Week honor.

In his four years with the program, Thompson-Robinson has recorded the fifth-most total touchdowns in school history, but still has one more year of eligibility and said he is undecided on if he will use it.

Whether or not he is celebrated Saturday, Kelly said participating in the senior day festivities is not an inexorable agreement to never suit up for the blue and gold again.

“There could be kids that walk this Saturday who play for us next year and they get to walk for two senior days,” Kelly said. “The way we did it is anybody that wants to walk on Saturday as a senior is allowed to.”

Cal has won three of its last four contests, with an average margin of victory of 19.8 points per game. Last weekend’s 41-11 triumph over Stanford marked the program’s first road win this season, with its matchup at the Rose Bowl on Saturday an opportunity to pick up its second.

While the Bruins are coming off hanging the most points on the Trojans in the history of the rivalry, the Golden Bears are also coming off an offensive high against their rival, racking up their most total yards ever in the Big Game versus the Cardinal.

Kelly is 2-1 against Cal as UCLA’s coach, but his teams are winless in games following a matchup with USC. Regardless, Kelly said last week’s matchup will have no impact on this week’s contest.

“If that’s what it was about then you would already know the outcome of the game and we wouldn’t play the game,” Kelly said. “We haven’t had any discussions about that nor do we talk about it because that goes back to the comment, and I use it all the time – it’s true but useless.”

Thompson-Robinson acknowledged the time to make a decision about a professional future is impending, but said until then he plans to enjoy one more game at the Rose Bowl.

“It’s getting closer to that time and we know that there’s going to be some decisions that have to be made,” Thompson-Robinson said. “We’re just going to go out there and live it up like it’s our last one, even if it may not be.”

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Kyle Boal | Sports senior staff
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women's water polo beat. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
Boal is currently a Sports senior staff writer on the women's water polo beat. He was an assistant Sports editor on the gymnastics, rowing, swim and dive, men's water polo and women's water polo beats. Boal was previously a contributor on the men's water polo and women's water polo beats.
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