The UCLA Bruins head to Autzen Stadium for a Saturday afternoon meeting against the Oregon Ducks. The Pac-12 started their season late, but they’re off and running, kind of. They’ve already had to deal with cancellations as a result of the virus. UCLA has already had to deal with a cancellation. Their matchup against Utah was halted on November 14 because of too many positive tests. And then this week, Washington State and Stanford have been cancelled because of Covid-19.
The Pac-12 is doing their best to put some kind of schedule together, but it’s going to be hard to rate some of these teams when it comes to the College Football Playoff. I really don’t think anyone really deserves a spot from what I’ve seen, but it’s absolutely going to require an undefeated campaign. The Big Ten started later as well, but not as late, and I think we know what we have with Ohio State. When it comes to most of the Pac-12, we would have needed a full season to really establish a clear picture.
It’s a wide open season in the Pac-12. It typically is out west, but I’d say more so this season. The Pac-12 doesn’t have a team in the top-10 going into this week. Oregon is just outside of that spot for 11th in the country. In other words, the Ducks must go undefeated and hope for some help along the way. A lot of help. Check out the rest of Oregon’s schedule. They have Oregon State, California, and then Washington to close out the year on December 12.
None of those wins will impress the CFP committee. That’s where several teams in front will have to falter. UCLA are in their third season with Chip Kelly as the head coach. Kelly, who knows Autzen Stadium well, hopes to return to Oregon with a win against his former employer. Kelly is the most successful coach that the Ducks have had. He knew how to win games, and was responsible for the Marcus Mariota era at Oregon.
That’s the last memory I have of Kelly in Eugene. He left college to try his hand in the NFL, which flamed out miserably with the Eagles and 49ers. Kelly is now responsible for turning the UCLA football program around. The Bruins are off to a 1-1 start with a 48-42 loss against Colorado and 34-10 win against Cal last week. Head below for our free UCLA vs. Oregon pick for November 21, 2020.
UCLA Bruins vs. Oregon Ducks Pac-12 Football Betting Odds:
UCLA vs. Oregon Prediction:
There is a big problem for UCLA heading to Autzen. At full health, they might have had a chance to pull off an upset in Eugene, but their backs could be up against the wall. There is word that quarterback’s status is in doubt because of the coronavirus. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is doubtful to play, while several other players have been placed in quarantine while they await results from testing. As a result of school policy, we don’t know much beyond that. Thompson-Robinson, the pilot of the UCLA offense, is the only we definitely know about that is going through coronavirus protocol at the moment.
Even if it’s only Thompson-Robinson, Kelly is going to be severely short-handed in this game. It can take a while to get a grasp of his system, and without the junior on the field, the Bruins are going to be at a definite disadvantage on Saturday night. Thompson-Robinson showed flashes of greatness next season, but it really felt like he needed another season before he reached his full potential.
He passed for 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 59.7% completions in his first season as a full time starter in 2019. In two games this season, Thompson-Robinson threw for 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 161 yards rushing and 2 scores. Remove Thompson-Robinson from the offense against a solid Oregon defense, and things could get interesting on the road. If Thompson-Robinson doesn’t play, the starting job will belong to Chase Griffin, who hasn’t thrown a pass at the collegiate level.
Sophomore Tyler Shough has been off to a nice start for the Ducks. He’s passed for 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 67.9% completions. Shough can use his legs and has benefited from his running ability with 166 yards on 8.3 yards per carry. He and CJ Verdall have gotten the Oregon offense to a fast start. Verdall has gained 223 yards and 5.9 yards per carry in two wins. If DTR was healthy, I’d have a lot more confidence in UCLA, though that’s not the case. A short-handed UCLA team should have issues on the road.