November 25, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Jake Bobo (9) scores a touchdown against California Golden Bears safety Craig Woodson (2) during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, No. 18 UCLA finally finish off Cal

Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounted for three touchdowns and Zach Charbonnet rushed for 119 yards and the game-winning score to lead UCLA to a 35-28 victory over host California on Friday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

Charbonnet carried the ball 24 times as UCLA rushed for 352 yards. T.J. Harden rushed for 89 yards and Thompson-Robinson, who threw for 189 yards and a score on 21-of-30 passing, added 88 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

The Bruins (9-3 overall, 6-3 Pac-12) clinched the win with less than two minutes remaining when Laiatu Latu recovered his second fumble of the game after the ball was punched out of Cal running back Jaydn Ott’s hands.

Cal quarterback Jack Plummer threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns on 24-for-34 passing. Plummer also became the sixth quarterback for Cal to surpass the 3,000 yards passing in a season.

Less than four minutes after Cal (4-8, 2-7) took a 28-27 lead, Charbonnet scored a 5-yard touchdown run and Thompson-Robinson converted a two-point pass play to Jake Bobo as UCLA went 73 yards on 10 plays to take the lead.

The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, with UCLA striking first on a 5-yard toss from Thompson-Robinson to Bobo. Plummer capped an 80-yard drive with a 46-yard bomb to J. Michael Sturdivant to tie the score.

Nicholas Barr-Mira punched in a 23-yard field goal for a 10-7 UCLA lead in the second quarter.

Cal seemed to grab the momentum before halftime with a pair of Plummer touchdown passes to Jeremiah Hunter — from 38 and 22 yards out — as the Bears went up 21-10 with 58 seconds remaining.

But Thompson-Robinson led the Bruins on an impressive 75-yard drive on five plays in 40 seconds, rushing 19 yards for the score to make it a 21-17 game at the half.

Thompson-Robinson then helped the Bruins regain the lead at 24-21 with a 14-yard keeper midway through the third quarter.

Latu recovered a fumble after Jack Landherr IV popped the ball out of punt returner Hunter’s hands late in the third quarter in what was Cal’s only other turnover.

The Bruins had to settle for a field goal and a 27-21 lead.

On Cal’s next possession, Hunter gained 49 yards on a reception, setting up an 8-yard screen pass to Ott as Cal temporarily regained a one-point lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) throws as Southern California Trojans defensive back Max Williams (4) and defensive lineman Solomon Byrd (51) move in during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 UCLA looks to rebound in finale vs. Cal

Coming off a heartbreaking loss that dashed its Pac-12 championship hopes, No. 18 UCLA tries to regroup and finish its season on a high note when it travels to Berkeley, Calif., for a matchup with Cal on Friday.

The Bruins (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) fell from College Football Playoff contention to out of the hunt for the league title with consecutive losses to Arizona on Nov. 12 and USC on last week.

The latter was a high-scoring, dramatic, back-and-forth contest in which UCLA was driving late with a chance to spoil its crosstown rival’s own playoff hopes, but Dorian Thompson-Robinson had a pass intercepted on the decisive play of the 48-45 contest.

“It hurts, but we want to end this thing on the right foot,” Thompson-Robinson said of switching gears on a short week to prepare for Cal. “We have 20-something seniors on this team, guys I played with here forever. Trying to send those guys out on the right foot, and the underclassmen know that, they understand that.”

Thompson-Robinson passed for four touchdowns and rushed for two in the shootout against USC, continuing to add to the best of his five seasons at UCLA and moving closer to various Bruins records.

Already UCLA’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns with 85, Thompson-Robinson is 474 yards shy of passing Cade McNown as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards. McNown finished with 10,708 yards through the air.

“One of (Thompson-Robinson’s) greatest qualities — and I say it all the time — is his toughness,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s as tough a quarterback as I’ve ever been around, and that’s just the type of kid he is. … He’s going to play the game and give it all he has.”

Cal (4-7, 2-6) had its bowl hopes dashed amid a six-game losing streak, but the Golden Bears can conclude the season with some positive momentum and a winning streak.

They outlasted rival Stanford 27-20 last week thanks to a fourth-quarter rally.

Cal rolled off 21 consecutive points in the final period, which included Jaydn Ott catching a two-point conversion pass after Jackson Sirmon’s 37-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, then Ott producing the win-sealing touchdown run with less than a minute remaining in the game.

Ott comes in with 842 yards rushing, sixth best among all freshmen in the nation. He became the first true freshman in program history to eclipse 100 yards in his debut, and he holds the conference’s single-game high this season with 274 yards against Arizona.

If he can gain 158 yards on Friday, Ott would become the conference’s first freshman to reach 1,000 since Jermar Jefferson of Oregon State in 2018, and Cal’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Patrick Laird in 2017.

Meanwhile, Golden Bears quarterback Jack Plummer looks to finish strong after underwhelming performances the past two weeks against Oregon State and Stanford. He finished with 147 yards and an interception in the loss to the Beavers, and he threw two interceptions in the red zone against the Cardinal.

“I’ve just got to take those out of the memory bank,” Plummer said. “I knew what was wrong seconds after the play was over. I don’t need to go back and watch the film to say, ‘Hey, I shouldn’t have thrown that.’”

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA;  UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly on the sidelines during the second half against the South Alabama Jaguars at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 UCLA ready to brush off first loss, tackle Stanford

No. 12 UCLA will return home on Saturday, coming off its first loss of the season and looking to keep its Pac-12 Conference title hopes intact against a suddenly resurgent Stanford in Pasadena, Calif.

The Bruins (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) fell to Oregon at Autzen Stadium for the eighth consecutive in a 45-30 loss Saturday. That dropped them behind the Ducks in the conference title race, because the Pac-12 abandoned its prior divisional-representative model to determine conference championship game participants.

As a result, the teams with the top two overall records will advance to the Dec. 2 title game in Las Vegas. Oregon now sits alone in first with the only unblemished league mark; with a single loss, UCLA is tied with Utah, which the Bruins beat on Oct. 8, and Southern California, which the Bruins host on Nov. 19.

“The one thing I told those guys, as I walked up the tunnel at the end of the game, it’s been 357 days since we lost our last game,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said during his media availability. “Last loss we had before that was Oct. 30, 2021. I think they righted the ship and did a great job to finish out the season with three wins, then starting off this season with six wins. There was only one other team in the country, Clemson, that had more wins than us over that time.

“This is a really good football team,” he added. We didn’t play up to what we should have played on Saturday, then we’ll move on.”

While UCLA’s winning streak dating back to last season ended, Stanford (3-4, 1-4) ended two dubious streaks in its most recent outings.

The Cardinal dropped 11 straight games against FBS opponents dating back to last season before its 16-14 win at Notre Dame on Oct. 15. Ten of those losses came against Pac-12 opponents, a skid Stanford ended last week in its 15-14 win over Arizona State.

Though the Cardinal opened conference play 0-4 this season, they showed flashes of returning to the form typical of coach David Shaw’s teams from 2011 through 2018, when Stanford won at least nine games in seven of eight seasons.

Stanford committed two turnovers inside the 2-yard line in a 41-28 loss to USC in Week 2, and it gave up a befuddling touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to lose to Oregon State on Oct. 8, 28-27.

Shaw said Tuesday that Thompson-Robinson and UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet had “given us fits” in prior meetings.

“Hopefully, we play better than we did last week, and that’s the charge we’ve been on the last weeks … ready to take a significant jump and give ourselves a chance to win on the road at UCLA,” Shaw said.

Since giving up 40-plus points in each of its first three Pac-12 games, the Stanford defense has limited its three most recent opponents to 56 combined points. The passing defense has improved since allowing four first-half touchdowns from USC’s Caleb Williams in Week 2, coming into UCLA holding opponents to fewer than 60 percent completions and 214.4 total yards through the air per game.

Run defense, however, has been an issue. The Cardinal rank tied for 112th nationally at 187.6 yards allowed per game, at 5.2 per carry. Charbonnet went for 118 yards rushing in last season’s 35-24 win at Stanford, while Thompson-Robinson carried for two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA;   UCLA Bruins running back Kazmeir Allen (19) is stopped by California Golden Bears safety Elijah Hicks (3) just short of the goal line after a pass reception in the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Report: University of California regents can block UCLA to Big Ten

Following a University of California board of regents meeting Wednesday, two regents told the Los Angeles Times that they believe they have the authority to stop UCLA from leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024.

Whether the regents will utilize that authority is another matter, though.

In June, UCLA, a member of the state university system, and Southern California, a private school, announced plans to leave the Pacific Coast-based Pac-12 and join the Big Ten in a stunning shift of the college football landscape.

It figures to cause serious damage to the Pac-12 and its remaining members, including Cal.

“I’m very concerned about the financial impact to Cal-Berkeley and to make sure whatever new revenue might be achieved envisions a scenario to help offset (Cal’s) need,” regent Tony Thurmond said, according to the San Jose Mercury-News.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom had requested the regents meet to discuss the matter. After both an open session and private talks, the consensus seemed to be that all options were on the table.

“We always have the ability to retain authority, which is what we heard today,” board of regents chair Richard Leib told the Los Angeles Times.

As to whether they would block UCLA’s move, Leib said it is “premature” to say.

“It’s important to understand that when the regents delegated authority to the (UCLA) president, they didn’t give it away or lose it,” Charlie Robinson, an attorney for the UC system, added. “Essentially, what they did was extend it such that authority was with the regents and the president.”

During the open session, one regent reportedly proposed that the board should prepare models for various scenarios for Cal athletics, including a move from Division I to Division III, which would be unprecedented for a high-major institution.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly in the first half against the Southern California Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA extends Chip Kelly through 2025

UCLA rewarded coach Chip Kelly with a four-year extension through the 2025 season on Friday, the program announced.

Kelly, 58, is coming off his first winning season with the Bruins in four years as their coach. UCLA went 8-4 in 2021. The team was set to play in the Holiday Bowl against NC State before COVID-19 complications forced the cancellation of the game.

Kelly is 18-25 in four seasons at UCLA after stints with Oregon (2009-12), the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-15) and the San Francisco 49ers (2016).

“We are extremely appreciative of the entire UCLA administration for their support of our football program,” Kelly said in a statement. “We have a tremendous amount of gratitude for our players and staff. Their tireless work and commitment to our vision has built a great foundation. We are excited to continue to build this program into something that makes the UCLA fan base proud.”

ESPN and the Los Angeles Times reported that Kelly’s new contract will pay him $4.7 million per year.

Kelly was linked to Oregon’s vacant coaching job earlier this winter, but the Ducks instead hired Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning.

“This new contract represents the commitment, stability and investment needed to continue the upward trajectory of our football program,” Bruins athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “Since joining UCLA, our football team’s winning percentage has increased every year, including increased momentum in recruiting and strategic use of the transfer portal.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA;    UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) runs for 17 yards and a first down against the California Golden Bears in the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Holiday Bowl canceled due to UCLA’s COVID protocols

Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl in San Diego was the latest bowl game to be called off amid the pandemic, with UCLA unable to compete against No. 18 North Carolina State due to COVID-19 protocols.

UCLA made the announcement roughly 5 1/2 hours before the game was scheduled to kick off at Petco Park.

The Bruins’ defensive line group was “decimated” by COVID-19 and did not have enough players able to play, according to a report from The Athletic.

“Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season,” NC State football’s Twitter account posted Tuesday. “We were informed a short time ago that our opponent would be unable to play this evening.”

The Holiday bowl was the fifth game to be canceled due to COVID-19, following the Fenway Bowl, Military Bowl, Hawaii Bowl and Arizona Bowl. The Gator Bowl was in limbo after Texas A&M backed out, but Rutgers was added as a replacement to face Wake Forest.

Also, the Sun Bowl was in limbo after Miami pulled out. But when Boise State dropped out of the Arizona Bowl on Monday, Central Michigan moved from the Arizona to Sun to keep the latter bowl game intact.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans in the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA, Cal look to showcase stellar offenses again

UCLA is heading to a bowl game this season, but California still has plenty of work left to secure its spot in a postseason game.

The Bruins welcome the Golden Bears to Pasadena on Saturday night in a Pac-12 matchup of teams that are playing better of late.

UCLA (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) has posted a pair of comfortable wins in its last two games following a two-game stretch in which it lost to Oregon and Utah, allowing a combined 78 points in those two defeats. The Bruins trampled Colorado two weeks ago and then knocked off USC last week, 62-33, in their highest-scoring performance ever in 91 all-time matchups with the Trojans.

“We’re about finishing off, being resilient, and that’s the thing that I’m most impressed with today, regardless of how many points were on the board,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson stole the show for the Bruins, passing for 349 yards and four touchdowns and adding a pair of scores on the ground.

“He’s a special player,” Kelly said, “and I’ve said it since the beginning. I love the kid. He’s as tough as they come both mentally and physically — and that was just on display today.”

Thompson-Robinson may be the headliner for the UCLA offense, but Cal undoubtedly will be keeping a close eye on two others: Zach Charbonnet, who ran for 167 yards and a touchdown last week, and Kazmeir Allen, who scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and also grabbed three receptions for 115 yards and two scores.

Meanwhile, Cal (4-6, 3-4) can still reach the postseason by winning its last two regular-season contests. The Bears host the Trojans next weekend, but first they need to defeat the Bruins — and replicating last week’s effort against Stanford isn’t a bad place to start.

Cal topped the Cardinal 41-11 behind Chase Garbers’ two touchdown passes and Marcel Dancy’s pair of rushing scores. The Bears’ defense held Stanford to 282 total yards in a crisp all-around effort, but coach Justin Wilcox was particularly pleased with the play of his senior quarterback.

“I’m really glad Chase is on our team while I’ve been here to quarterback the Big Game,” Wilcox said, referencing the rivalry with Stanford. “He had another good one today. Chase is playing his best ball since being here. It’s not even close.”

UCLA has won three of the last four meetings between the teams, including a 34-10 triumph a season ago. The Bruins lead the all-time series 56-34-1.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly returns to the locker room following pregame warmups against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Pressure mounting on Chip Kelly as UCLA hosts Colorado

Following consecutive losses to Oregon and Utah and then having a week off, UCLA and embattled head coach Chip Kelly look to get back to winning when the Bruins host Colorado in a Pac-12 game Saturday in Pasadena.

The Buffaloes, coached by former UCLA coach Karl Dorrell, are coming off a 37-34 double-overtime victory over Oregon State at Boulder, Colo.

Colorado is 0-3 on the road this season losing by an average of almost 23 points.

The Buffaloes (3-6, 2-4 Pac-12) dropped consecutive games on the road against California and Oregon, losing 26-3 to the Golden Bears and 52-29 to the Ducks, before the win against the Beavers.

“We got a lot of work to do, and we can feel good about what we’ve done at this point,” said Dorrell, who was a receiver at UCLA from 1983-86 and was 35-27 as a head coach there from 2003-07.

“Hopefully we play better and continue to do some positive things as we move through this last part of the season.”

UCLA (5-4, 3-3) has lost three of its last five, including two games at the Rose Bowl against Arizona State and Oregon.

Kelly is facing criticism from the Los Angeles media for the Bruins’ record in his fourth season as head coach. He is 15-25 overall and 13-18 in Pac-12 games during his tenure.

The Los Angeles Times ran a story this week with the headline: “Chip Kelly is nowhere close to elite, and UCLA can do much better.”

The Bruins, who played without injured starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the loss at Utah two weeks ago, are facing the likelihood of having their Rose Bowl drought reach 23 years.

“We still got a lot of football to be played this season,” Kelly said. “I wouldn’t bet against that group (his players) in that room there. That group in that room there’s awesome and I love those kids.”

Thompson-Robinson returned to practice this week after suffering a right thumb injury against Oregon that kept him out against Utah. He warmed up before the game against the Utes but did not play.

Ethan Garbers replaced Thompson-Robinson at Utah and the Bruins had the opportunity to take the Pac-12 South lead but lost 44-24 because their defense allowed the Utes to rush for 290 yards.

Colorado quarterback Brenden Lewis has been efficient in the Buffaloes’ last two games, throwing six touchdown passes with no interceptions. He has completed 40 of 57 pass attempts for 394 yards with only one sack.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins running back Brittain Brown (28) carries the ball against the Oregon Ducks in the first half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Dye scores 4 TDs, No. 10 Oregon holds on at UCLA

Travis Dye scored four rushing touchdowns despite running for only 35 yards on 14 carries, and No. 10 Oregon rallied from a 14-point deficit for a 34-31 win over UCLA Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Dye, at one point in the game, had all four touchdown runs on four consecutive carries. Quarterback Anthony Brown completed 29 of 39 passes for 296 yards, but two fourth-quarter interceptions gave the Bruins a chance to come back.

UCLA had the ball in Oregon territory with a minute to play, but backup quarterback Ethan Garbers was picked off by Oregon’s D.J. James to seal the Ducks’ win. Garbers had to come in when starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson had to exit during the drive after a hard hit.

The Ducks (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) scored three second-half touchdowns, two in the third quarter for Dye and a 43-yard run up the middle for a touchdown for Brown. The Ducks also blocked a punt in the third quarter, which set up a score, and star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux was a disruptor with two sacks, numerous pressures and hits and a team-high eight solo tackles.

But the Bruins rallied from a 34-17 deficit with two touchdowns, their last with 6:34 to play in the game on Brittain Brown’s one-yard touchdown run after Brown was intercepted.

UCLA (5-3, 3-2 Pac-12) got 216 passing yards from Thompson-Robinson, who also ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

UCLA scored on its opening drive, then added a short touchdown pass from Thompson-Robinson to Kazmeir Allen for a 14-0 first quarter lead.

After Dye had a touchdown called back for being down at the 1-yard line, Brown’s pass was tipped and intercepted. But UCLA was offside, and Dye punched it in on the next play.

The Ducks had never trailed by more than 10 points at any point in a game this season, but they tied the score after a missed field goal. A 12-play, 80-yard drive ended with Dye running four yards to tie the score with 2:49 to play in the half.

The Bruins drove for a field goal to take a 17-14 lead into halftime. They held a rushing offense averaging 210 yards per game to 35 in the first half and 121 for the game.

Oregon has won the last nine meetings. All three of UCLA’s losses this year have come at home.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) runs the ball against Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Chase Lucas (24) during the first half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA prepares for loud Washington crowd

As UCLA began preparing for its game at Washington, a grunge-themed playlist of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” and the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” blared through the speakers on the practice field.

It was a nod to Seattle being the home of the genre and the loud crowd the Bruins will have to deal with Saturday night at Husky Stadium.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said he didn’t even notice the music because he was “so locked in to practice and what we’ve got going on.”

That should be a relief for the Bruins (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12), as Thompson-Robinson is coming off his worst game of the season. He completed 8 of 19 passes for 82 yards as UCLA didn’t pull away until late in a 34-16 victory at winless Arizona.

“I don’t know (how) you can prepare for that; maybe turn the music up loud at practice,” Thompson-Robinson said of an anticipated sellout crowd for Washington’s homecoming, when it will be celebrating its 1991 national championship. “It’s pretty quiet when you’re tuned in, locked in to your assignment.”

Despite the quarterback’s struggles against Arizona, teammate Brittain Brown rushed for a game-high 146 yards on 12 carries (a 12.2-yard average) and Zach Charbonnet added 117 yards on 21 attempts as the Bruins amassed 329 yards on the ground.

UCLA might need to repeat that feat Saturday as the Huskies (2-3, 1-1) have the top-ranked passing defense in the conference.

Washington had a bye last weekend after absorbing a last-second, 27-24 loss at Oregon State.

The break gave the Huskies a chance to get healthy. Preseason All-America linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui might make his 2021 debut after tearing his left Achilles during spring practice.

It also has given them an extra week to prepare for UCLA coach Chip Kelly’s offense.

“I have a lot of respect for Chip,” Washington coach Jimmy Lake said. “I think he really changed football — not just college football. He changed football with all the different schemes he was running years ago, even when he was back in New Hampshire and of course his run at Oregon.

“Now you can see he’s doing some different things schematics-wise that cause defenses problems. And then throw in there they have talented players. … They present a lot of challenges.”

–Field Level Media