Gameday predictions: UCLA vs. Oregon
Pictured are UCLA football senior linebacker Darius Muasau (left) and Oregon defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus (right). (Photos by (left to right): Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff, Daily Bruin file photo. Photo illustration by Maya O’Kelly/Design director)
Prediction: UCLA 38, Oregon 31
Two straight games I bet against the Bruins, and twice they proved me wrong.
Two straight games I took the underdog, and the favorite let me down.
So, in an effort to get back on track, I’m forecasting an upset with UCLA going on the road to Eugene and conquering Oregon in what would be the Bruins’ biggest win in recent memory.
That phrase has been exhausted lately, as UCLA toppled then-No. 15 Washington and then-No. 11 Utah in back-to-back weeks, but it’s hard to understate the importance of this moment for the program.
ESPN’s “College GameDay” in attendance, coach Chip Kelly returning to Eugene, redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson garnering Heisman buzz – the storylines write themselves.
But regardless of all the hoopla surrounding this matchup – the first top-10 duel in the Pac-12 in four years – the Bruins truly do have the formula to depart Eugene with a 7-0 record and sit atop the Pac-12 standings.
UCLA’s offense has been quite literally unstoppable as of late, so it seems unlikely that Oregon’s below-average scoring defense in the Pac-12 will be the one to buck that trend. While the Ducks have been stout against the run, no defense in the conference has been worse against the pass this season than Oregon’s.
Rain or shine, expect Thompson-Robinson to continue his torrid run as he drowns the Ducks’ defense.
On the other side of the ball, Ducks quarterback Bo Nix and company will certainly test the Bruins’ defense. But given UCLA’s defensive history in the past few years, it may be easy to forget that the blue and gold currently leads the Pac-12 in total defense.
A late takeaway will seal the deal for UCLA – just like it did for Oregon in Pasadena a season ago – as the Bruins march on in a season no one saw coming.
Daily Bruin senior staff
Prediction: UCLA 35, Oregon 45
Playing on the road is tough.
Playing on the road in a crazy, rainy, “College GameDay”-fueled environment in only your second road game of the season is even tougher.
Add in the fact that the opponent is a top-10 team that hasn’t lost at home in more than four years, and it makes the task in front of UCLA next to impossible.
Although UCLA has the talent to compete in this game, recent history suggests otherwise. The Bruins have struggled in Autzen Stadium as of late, having lost seven consecutive games in Eugene after their last victory there in 2004.
Overall, UCLA has won only one of its last 10 games against Oregon, and this year’s Ducks team is reminiscent of the past. Oregon boasts arguably the most explosive offense in the conference under first-year head coach Dan Lanning.
Despite being limited to three points in its season opener, Oregon ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring average at 42 points per game – just 0.1 points away from conference leader Washington – and has scored nearly 50 points a contest during its current five-game winning streak. With the crowd behind it, the Ducks offense should continue flying high.
The only question will be whether or not the Bruins can match that pace in enemy territory.
With UCLA matching up against the Pac-12’s best rushing defense, the pressure will be on Thompson-Robinson to produce through the air. And while he’s played largely mistake-free football to start the season, he’s likely due for a few turnovers – miscues that could sink UCLA in a hostile environment.
Daily Bruin staff
Prediction: UCLA 49, Oregon 31
If Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett can put up 49 points against Oregon, Thompson-Robinson can too.
Oregon got absolutely demolished by No. 1 Georgia to open the season, but ever since that fateful day in Atlanta, the Ducks have been on somewhat of a roll.
The Ducks have built a five-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 25 points, which also includes a victory over then-No. 12 BYU. Oregon’s five straight victories has catapulted it back up to No. 10 in the country.
However, for a team that hired Lanning – a defensive mastermind who led a stacked Georgia defense to a national championship last season – to be its new head coach, the Oregon defense is not very good.
In its past three contests, Oregon allowed Washington State, Stanford and Arizona to put up 41, 27 and 22 points, respectively. The Ducks also rank 61st in the country in yards allowed per game with 373.3.
The point is, Oregon has yet to face a formidable offense, excluding Georgia. Thompson-Robinson and senior running back Zach Charbonnet will prove to be too much to handle for the Oregon defense, and this game will get out of hand early.
On the offensive side of the field, Nix, despite coming from Auburn, does not look like an SEC quarterback. Nix may appear to be in the midst of a breakout year, with the 10th-best quarterback rating in the country, but he is still the same guy who threw 16 interceptions in three seasons with Auburn.
This game will not live up to the hype, as Nix and the Oregon offense will have no chance of catching up with UCLA’s quick start.
Prediction: UCLA 27, Oregon 42
Despite my best efforts, it seems I have forgotten to pay much attention to the happenings of UCLA football this season.
It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve watched a few games and read a few Daily Bruin wraps to try to gain a general understanding of what’s been going on, and I’ve led a few meetings to plan out our special football projects in print this year.
It also wasn’t for lack of motivation. As an assistant Sports editor last year, I built up enough spite to try to show all the guys I worked with that I too knew things about football, a level of spite I’ve carried with me into my tenure as this year’s managing editor.
Nonetheless, I sit here writing this prediction going solely off – dare I say it – vibes, along with a vague recollection of the ego boost that comes with “GameDay” taking place in your town.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I never learned things about football or how to find flashy stats to show that I know what I’m talking about. But as last year’s managing editor wrote in her prediction for Oregon vs. UCLA, I’ll leave the stats to this year’s team of Sports editors.
Even if it didn’t pan out for UCLA having “GameDay” and home-field advantage last year, I have a feeling having “GameDay” in Eugene will help push the Ducks past the Bruins this season. Not to mention the advantages of playing at home and the rain Eugene is expecting when UCLA travels to Oregon, one year after the drizzle that fell in Los Angeles the morning of the Bruins’ and Ducks’ showdown last season.
The rain is also surreptitiously the first of the season in Eugene, just in time to slip up the Bruins from their sunny Westwood climate comfort zone.
My vague football knowledge and consistent lack of belief in this team cements my steadfast belief in a UCLA loss.
In the meantime, though, you can catch me moving ads around in The Bruin’s print paper, listening to Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” and maybe even tuning in to the game to see if the Bruins can pull out their best season in my UCLA career.