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UCLA hopes to jump start lethargic football program with win vs. Sooners

September 12, 2019 ▪ By Ray Dozier

UCLA coach Chip Kelly is on the hot seat after an 0-2 start this year, but an upset over the No. 4 Sooners (2-0) would be the spark the Bruins need to resurrect their football program. Both teams meet Saturday (7 p.m. FOX) in Pasadena, California.

Kelly, who led Oregon to some prominence a few years ago, was hired by UCLA last year, and his first season was a disaster with a 3-9 record, including a 49-21 drubbing at the hands of the Sooners in Norman. Kyler Murray threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for a team-high 69 yards and scored twice more. Cee Dee Lamb had 7 catches for 146 yards and a TD.

The Bruins scored first, but OU soon tied the game, then scored five unanswered touchdowns en route to the win. The Sooners sacked Bruin QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson six times. He’s back again this year and so far, has completed just 52.5 percent of his passes for 355 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. DTR has been sacked five times this year and spilled the pigskin on three of the team’s four fumbles.

The ground game hasn’t fared well, either with just 163 yards by the Bruins’ three running backs, who have only 3.2 yards per carry. Joshua Kelley ran for 1,243 yards and scored 12 touchdowns in 11 games (9 starts) last year. After being held out in the season opener due to injury, he rushed for a team-high 53 yards and a TD in last week’s loss to San Diego State.

The offensive line isn’t good, and Oklahoma’s defensive front seven should have a heyday. If not, trouble for OU’s defense.

The Bruin’s defense is good against the run — holding their first two foes to 127.5-yards-per- game (2.7 per carry). The D has allowed an average of 267.5 passing yards (9.4 average per pass, 13 per reception). Cincinnati and SD State combined to complete 41 of 57 passing (72%). Linebacker Krys Barnes is the team’s leading tackler with 21 stops (three behind the line including one sack).

OU QB Jalen Hurts should have another impressive performance. The Bama transfer leads the nation with a 252.3 QB rating by completing 83 percent of his passes for 591 yards, 6 TDs, and no picks. He has distributed the ball to 15 different receivers. Lamb leads the pack with 8 receptions for 190 yards and a couple of scores. Hurts also leads the Sooners with 223 rushing yards (9.3 per carry) and three touchdowns. He also is the only player in the country with at least 500 passing yards and at least 200 rushing yards and leads the nation with 12.5 yards per play.

Oklahoma easily handled South Dakota, 70-14, last weekend. The Sooners sputtered with a three-and-out on their first possession but scored a touchdown in 10 of their final 11 possessions. Seventy-eight Sooners got in on the action including their freshmen stars. Five-star receivers Jadon Haselwood, Theo Wease, and Trejan Bridges all scored a touchdown. Bridges scored on a 9-yard reception from five-star QB Spencer Rattler.

Sophomore nickelback Brendan Radley-Hiles was the star on the defense. He recovered a fumble that ended a second-quarter threat by the Coyotes at the OU 23-yard line. On South Dakota’s third play in the second half, BRH intercepted a pass and sailed to the end zone for a 35-0 lead. Although he had only two tackles, one of them went for a loss of 4 yards.

OU has won 32 consecutive non-conference games against unranked opponents. The last loss? 41-24 to UCLA in Pasadena.

The Sooners are seeking their 21st straight, true road victory. They currently are tied with Miami (Fla.) (1984-88) and Ohio State (2012-16) for the longest streaks in the country. Oklahoma last dropped a true road game on October 4, 2014 — a 37-33 setback to TCU. The Sooners haven’t had much luck the last two times they played in Rose Bowl Stadium. They lost to UCLA in 2005 and Georgia in the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinals. That streak will end, and the road streak will be extended to 21.

Sooners 49, Bruins 10.

Fast Facts

  • OU leads the series 4-1; series is tied 1-1 in Pasadena.
  • OU is favored by 23.5.
  • Lincoln Riley’s record: 26-4 (.867) overall; 1-0 vs. UCLA; 8-0 on the road; 20-1 vs. unranked opponents; 8-2 vs. non-conference foes.
  • Chip Kelly’s record: 49-18 (.731) overall at Oregon & UCLA; At UCLA: 3-11 (.214); 2-6 at home; 0-3 vs. ranked foes; 0-5 vs. non-conference opponents.
  • Rose Bowl Stadium is 27 miles from the UCLA campus.
  • OU is 3-0 in games played on September 14.
  • UCLA is 3-1-1 in games played on September 14.

Articles by Ray Dozier