One of the best matchups of the weekend is between the 10th-ranked Oregon Ducks (5-1) and the surging UCLA Bruins (5-2), and the game will have Pac 12 title game implications.
Oregon has one of the best wins of the season, a 35-28 road victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes. The last two weeks, however, have been a struggle as the Ducks lost in overtime to Stanford and needed to rally in the second half to beat the now 1-5 California Golden Bears.
UCLA has an impressive win over LSU on its resume, and the Bruins have won three straight games on the road. They return home against the Ducks, but the last time the Bruins played in the Rose Bowl they got beat by Arizona State. The last time the Ducks played on the road they lost to Stanford. What will give in this matchup?
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Oregon 34, UCLA 31
I'm going against my guys here. Yes, UCLA is ascending and they were one of my sleeper teams this summer. I love the direction the Bruins are going and they are going to win a lot more games the rest of the season, but Oregon is a team on a mission and their recent struggles are going to give them a boost, because they've had to battle through adversity.
Let's be honest, the recent health issues for offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead have factored into the recent struggles as well. Now that Moorhead is getting back into a normal routine I think the offense is going to take off. The key for Moorhead and the offense is getting quarterback Anthony Brown into an early rhythm. If he can complete balls on the perimeter it will open up even more run room for the running game.
If UCLA had a more consistent quarterback I'd be all over the Bruins in this game. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is far too erratic for my liking. If he comes out hot and gets the ball downfield the Bruins will win, but no way I'm predicting that. UCLA has an outstanding run game, but when he's not making good decision and completing passes it makes the offense less efficient.
That's what my prediction comes down to. Both teams can run the ball very well, but I like Oregon's defense more than UCLA's and I have more faith in Brown to make clutch fourth quarter plays than I do Thompson-Robinson.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: UCLA 24, Oregon 21
Oregon is the surprise underdog here. I say surprise at least to me. We know Bryan has been high on the Bruins since the preseason. There are a lot of underlying stories here but the biggest is obviously Chip Kelly vs his former team. This game feels like a bigger game for UCLA than it is for Oregon. The Ducks have the weight of the PAC12 on them to potentially crash the CFP party but this win could be huge for the rebuild going on in Westwood. I like the Bruins here.
GRANT DELVECCHIO, STAFF WRITER
Prediction: UCLA 35, Oregon 27
This is going to be an exciting game, I honestly think it could go either way. Even with the two losses, this just feels like the season Chip Kelly takes down his former team. The Bruins are at home with College Gameday in town and have a top-10 rushing defense in the country. Upset city.
SHAUN DAVIS, ESPN CHICAGO
Prediction: UCLA 28, Oregon 24
The Pac-12 will have it’s marquee matchup of the season as the 10th ranked Oregon Ducks invade the Rose Bowl to face the UCLA Bruins on Saturday afternoon. The Ducks have played inconsistent since their big win over 5th ranked Ohio State. They needed a late touchdown and stop to beat 1-5 California last week, and the offense hasn’t lived up to it’s preseason promised explosiveness.
Both teams enter the matchup with one conference loss, so the loser will more than likely fall out of any national playoff contention and Rose Bowl contention as well. This game will feature two of the top rushing attacks in the Pac-12 with both teams averaging more than 210 yards per game. The loss of C.J. Verdell for the season could impact the Ducks rushing attack, but Travis Dye and the offensive line will still be formidable for a Bruins defense looking to put together its most complete game since Texas in week 2.
Both teams have also suffered from inconsistent play at the quarterback position, and that could ultimately determine who jumps out and forces the other quarterback to have to throw more than was planned. Neither quarterback is good enough to carry the load for their offense. The home fields advantage will be huge in this game.
RYAN ROBERTS, RISENDRAFT
Prediction: UCLA 31, Oregon 27
UPSET ALERT! UCLA left tackle Sean Rhyan keeps Kayvon Thibodeaux quiet and the UCLA rushing attack gets going. Oregon makes a late push but the Bruins hold on.
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