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

Sep 25, 2021; Stanford, California, USA;  Stanford Cardinal linebacker Levani Damuni (3) tackles UCLA Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet (24) during the first quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 UCLA pounds Stanford, 35-24

Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Philips one play after Stanford had rallied into a fourth-quarter tie Saturday afternoon, helping the 24th-ranked UCLA Bruins hold off the Cardinal, 35-24.

Thompson-Robinson, who played through a right shoulder injury much of the game, also rushed for two scores. He threw a game-clinching, 5-yard TD pass to Philips with 2:30 remaining for UCLA (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12), which bounced back from a 40-37 home loss to Fresno State last week.

Tanner McKee threw three long touchdown passes for Stanford (2-2, 1-1), including a 46-yarder to Bryce Farrell to tie the score at 21-all with 13:06 remaining.

But Thompson-Robinson fired deep down the middle on UCLA’s next play, and the speedy Philips raced untouched into the end zone to give UCLA a lead it never relinquished.

Playing at home for the first time since Week 2 of last season, Stanford closed within 28-24 on a 48-yard field goal by Joshua Karty with 9:10 remaining. But the Bruins ran 6:40 off the clock with a run-dominated drive before Thompson-Robinson connected with Philips from the Cardinal 5-yard line on third-and-goal.

Thompson-Robinson left the game briefly during the final scoring drive to have his shoulder examined. He was able to return to the game, and on the next play threw his short TD pass to Philips.

The senior quarterback threw for 212 yards and the two scores, complementing his 1- and 2-yard TD runs.

Zach Charbonnet added a 5-yard TD run for UCLA, which outrushed Stanford 304-17. Charbonnet had 209 of the yards on 25 carries.

Philips finished with five catches for a game-high 111 yards.

UCLA, which outgained Stanford 516-179, led 21-7 at the break, but McKee caught fire after halftime, first connecting with Elijah Higgins for a 56-yard score before the game-tying dart to Farrell.

McKee, who finished 22-for-33 for 242 yards, also hit Brycen Tremayne for a 19-yard TD in the second quarter.

Higgins was Stanford’s primary pass-catcher with 78 yards on four receptions. Nathaniel Peat was the club’s leading rusher with 41 yards on 12 carries.

Neither team had a turnover.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; General overall view of the UCLA Bruins logo at midfield during a NCAA football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the UCLA Bruinsat Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Donahue, the winningest UCLA and Pac-12 coach, dies at 77

Terry Donahue, who made a tremendous impact on UCLA and Pac-12 football, coaching the Bruins from 1976 to 1995, passed away Sunday. He was 77.

He died at his home in Newport Beach, Calif., surrounded by family, following a two-year struggle with cancer.

Piling up 151 wins, good for best in UCLA history, and 98 conference wins — still a record in the Pac-12 — Donahue was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2000. He was also inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997 and the press box at the Rose Bowl was named for him in 2013, following a career that included three Rose Bowl victories and five conference titles (won or shared).

He finished his career with a 151-74-8 mark at UCLA and a 98-51-5 record in Pac-12 play.

He also made a mark on the personnel side, serving as director of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers from 1999-2000 before becoming general manager for an additional four years.

The late John Wooden offered the following perspective on Donahue’s impact before his own passing: “I believe that a head coach, particularly at UCLA, should be judged by his or her peers within the university community-at-large as to whether the student-athletes with whom the coach was entrusted become not only excellent athletes but also, and more importantly, better students and better all-around individuals … There is no doubt in my mind that Terry Donahue deserves the recognition of having achieved that very ethereal form of success.”

Donahue is survived by Andrea, his wife of 52 years, daughters Nicole, Michele and Jennifer, three sons-in-law and 10 grandchildren.

–Field Level Media

Dec 19, 2020; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Chase Griffin (11) runs the ball during overtime against the Stanford Cardinal at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

USC, UCLA to have full stadiums this fall

USC and UCLA have each announced plans to open their football stadiums to 100 percent occupancy this fall in the wake of California announcing a “full-scale” reopening Tuesday.

What that means in a sporting sense is all venues in the state can return to full capacity effective immediately, prompting each university’s announcement.

A more cautious approach to openings during the COVID-19 pandemic has been par for the course for schools in California, and for the state itself. That makes this announcement more noteworthy than most, though infection rates have been on the decline in the state as vaccination rates have risen. A reported 40.7 million doses have been given in California to date.

“We are excited to welcome back students, alumni and fans to the Rose Bowl and our other outside sporting events,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said. “Getting the COVID-19 vaccination is strongly encouraged to provide the safest environment for everyone. We will continue to follow local and state health and safety protocols in order to maintain a safe environment for our fans.”

“We are beyond excited to welcome the Trojan Family back to the Coliseum for the first time since 2019,” said USC AD Mike Bohn in a statement. “Our home games were not the same last year, and the gameday experience at the Coliseum is so special primarily because of the fans. Our players and coaches can’t wait to see fans and family in the stands and that energy is a difference-maker for us on the field.”

USC home games have a full capacity of 77,500 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, while the Rose Bowl can seat up to 80,000 fans.

The college football season gets underway in Los Angeles Aug. 28 with UCLA’s opener against Hawaii at the Rose Bowl. USC opens play at the Coliseum Sept. 4 against San Jose State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Pasadena, California, USA;   UCLA Bruins running back Demetric Felton (10) runs for a first down against California Golden Bears safety Daniel Scott (32) in the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA routs Cal in hastily added game

Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw three first-half touchdown passes, Demetric Felton rushed for a game-high 107 yards and the UCLA defense rebounded from a poor performance to limit California to 176 total yards on Sunday as the Bruins dominated the Bears 34-10 in a Pacific-12 game.

The meeting was hastily scheduled on Friday, fewer than 48 hours before kickoff, after UCLA had its scheduled game against Utah and Cal its matchup with Arizona State cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

Thompson-Robinson connected with Charles Njoku for a 27-yard touchdown, Chase Cota for a 6-yard score and Kyle Phillips for a 5-yard TD, helping the Bruins (1-1, 1-1 Pac-12) build a commanding 27-10 halftime lead.

Felton did most of his damage in the second half, during which UCLA built its rushing total up to 244 yards en route to a 440-176 advantage in total offense. Defensively, the Bruins recorded five sacks.

One week after allowing 525 yards in a 48-42 loss to Colorado, the Bruins held the Bears (0-1, 0-1) to 54 rushing yards on 28 tries and harassed Cal quarterback Chase Garbers into just 122 passing yards and an interception on 18-for-33 passing to avenge a late-season, 28-18 home loss to their in-state rival last November.

In his team’s season debut after also having last week’s opener against Washington canceled, Garbers scored Cal’s only TD on an 8-yard run in the second quarter.

After hurting themselves with four turnovers last week against Colorado, the Bruins overcame an early blocked punt and interception to build their 17-point halftime advantage.

Craig Woodson blocked a Luke Akers punt after UCLA’s first possession, setting up Cal on the Bruins’ 17-yard line and leading to the game’s first score, a 31-yard field goal by Dario Longhetto.

UCLA then held Cal scoreless after a Camryn Bynum interception on its next possession, before dominating most of the rest of the game.

Thompson-Robinson began a personal four-TD, first-half onslaught with a 2-yard rushing score to give UCLA the lead for good in the final minute of the first quarter, before his TD connections with Njoku, Cota and Phillips produced the 27-10 halftime lead.

Thompson-Robinson finished 14-of-26 passing for 196 yards through the air and added 52 rushing yards on 12 carries.

After a scoreless third quarter, UCLA’s Brittain Brown accounted for the only points of the second half with a 31-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media