UCLA football moves into the top 25 after beating Washington
October 6, 2022
Behind an opportunistic defense and the leadership of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, the UCLA Bruins upset the No. 15 ranked Washington Huskies, 40-32 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last Friday Night. The high scoring affair produced 909 yards in total offense between the two offensive powers.
The victory moved the Bruins to 5-0 for the season, 2-0 in Pac-12 conference play, and is the first time since 2013 that the Bruins have started 5-0. The win was the eighth consecutive regular season win by the Bruins over a two-season period and the win also moved the Bruins into the Top 25 in the nation. The AP Poll moved the Bruins to No. 18 and the Coaches Poll has the Bruins at No. 19.
With the loss, the Huskies are 4-1 for the season and despite the loss remained in the top 25 at No. 21 in the AP Poll and No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. The Huskies are 1-1 in Pac-12 conference play. There are 5 Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the Top 25 in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll (USC, Utah, Oregon, UCLA, and Washington).
The victory over the Huskies sets up another huge matchup with a ranked conference foe. The Bruins will take on the Utah Utes on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in a game that will start at 12:30 p.m. locally and will be televised nationally on FOX. The Utes are 2-0 in conference play, and 4-1 overall. They are the defending Pac-12 conference champions and a preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 title again.
On Friday night at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins we're led by Thompson-Robinson on offense, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing 10 times for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Thompson-Robinson, who always plays with an edge, stated after the game that, "I think for me, I'm reading all the articles out there throughout the week saying that we are the worst 4-0 team out there. They're writing us off. My boys came here with a chip on their shoulders. I think I told you all on Monday to see if Washington can run with us, not the other way around."
Thompson-Robinson may have played the best game of his career against the Huskies. He looked comfortable in the pocket, his decision making was almost flawless, he converted 10 of 14 first downs and he had a few highlight runs that later ran on ESPN SportsCenter. The Bruins had zero turnovers in the game and when the game got close in the 4th quarter, Thompson-Robinson won the game with his legs and a perfect pass.
"I just thought [Thompson-Robinson] was clutch," head coach Chip Kelly said. "We have total confidence in everything that Dorian does, I think he has a great grasp on what we're trying to do. You look at the last play, it's third and six and we call a passing play, he put the ball exactly where it needed to be and converted the first down. That's the confidence we have in him as a quarterback."
Kelly added regarding Thompson-Robinson, "He has played in a lot of really big football games for us. I go back to his freshman year. His first start was at Oklahoma playing in front of 93,000. The one thing about him is he doesn't get fazed, doesn't get rattled. He's as tough as they come, he takes hits, and he gets up and he continues to play. He is a competitor, so it was really cool to see the game end the way it ended."
Thompson-Robinson had a lot of help around him, starting with running back Zach Charbonnet, who rushed 22 times for 124 yards and one touchdown, while also catching 3 passes for 56 yards. Charbonnet, the No. 1 ranked running back in the state of California in the 2019 247sports.com football recruiting rankings, is going to be a valued running back at the NFL level with his speed, size, running and receiving ability.
The offensive line did a good job of protecting Thompson-Robinson and opening holes for the running game. Wide receiver Jake Bobo, a transfer from Duke, caught six passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Bobo is deceptively fast on the outside, as is wide receiver Kam Brown, who had five receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought Kam Brown really contributed," Kelly said. "I think we're getting great production from our outside receivers. For the last couple of years, we had a lot of talent with our inside receivers – Greg Dulcich, Kyle Philips, both of those guys have gone on to the NFL so you know how talented those guys are. But for our outside receivers, for Jake [Bobo] and Kam [Brown] to step up like they did today and become a matchup problem, that was big for us. We can get the ball distributed to the perimeter, and if you have to cover the perimeter it opens up some holes for Zach in the middle of the field"
The defense came up big against Huskie quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who leads the nation in passing yardage per game with 346.6 yards per game. Penix gave the Huskies an early 7-0 lead with a 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rome Odunze. The Bruins then went on a 40-9 run to take a 40-16 lead after three quarters. The Huskies scored twice in the 4th quarter to make it close at the end.
The key was the defense, which did a good job of mixing up coverages, which led to two Penix interceptions in the second quarter. A times it looked as if the Bruins were daring the Huskies to run the ball, something the Huskies have not done well because they have not needed to be balanced on offense.
Kelly said of his defense; "I was really proud of them, especially in the first half. I thought their energy and how they were playing, the different looks they were doing to disguise and the ability to get two turnovers in the first half against this team ... because this team had been clicking on all cylinders in the first four games. If you watched them on tape, you could tell this was a really impressive football team."
The Bruins will face another really impressive football team this Saturday, October 8th, with the Utes, who have the 6th ranked defense in the nation and 21st ranked offense in the nation. The Utes are averaging 42 points per game, just ahead of the Bruins who are averaging 41.6 points per game. This could be another offensive shootout at the Rose Bowl. The Utes are a 4.5-point favorite in the game, so expect the Bruins to have a big chip on their shoulders for this contest.