As expected, the Bruins came away with a win this weekend, but how they got it may not have been as predictable.
UCLA football (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) beat Arizona (0-5, 0-2) 34-16 at Arizona Stadium on Saturday. As close as it looked like it would be for the first half and change, the Bruins pulled away late thanks to some big plays and the defense finally getting home with some regularity.
These are four of the biggest takeaways, narratives and questions to come out of Saturday's game.
Arizona isn't actually that bad
The first half being as close as it was mostly had to do with the Bruins missing opportunities and just not playing that well to start off.
But still, the Wildcats looked pretty good.
UCLA had a very similar outing against Arizona to the one Oregon put together a few weeks ago. The Ducks led the Wildcats 24-19 heading into the fourth quarter, while the Bruins were up 24-16 at that point in the game.
Both UCLA and Oregon turned on the gas in the fourth quarter to secure a comfortable win. Even after the Ducks lost to Stanford and dropped out of the top-four, it's still a major compliment for the Bruins to be compared to a top-10 team that's favored to win the conference.
Would it have been more comforting for UCLA to go ahead early and not break a sweat? Of course.
But quarterback Jordan McCloud looked really good and defensive coordinator Don Brown really seemed to get in quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson's head. Again, part of that has to do with the Bruins' defense being poor once again and Thompson-Robinson clearly being off, but credit the Wildcats for playing a really solid three quarters before McCloud went out and running back Brittain Brown took over.
The two-headed monster is back
Zach Charbonnet burst onto the scene in his first-ever game with UCLA, and he immediately got more hype and attention that Brown.
That's with Brown still being listed as the starter this whole time, plus the fact that he rushed for over 200 yards against Stanford last year. As the incumbent though, Brown as old news, and people were all aboard the Charbonnet bandwagon when he rushed for over 100 yards against both Hawaii and LSU.
Saturday against Arizona, Brown made sure people weren't forgetting he was still around.
Brown rushed for 146 yards on just 12 carries, channelling the wild efficiency and big-play ability that Charbonnet brought to the table earlier in the year. Charbonnet did his part as well, rushing for 117 yards of his own.
It was the first time UCLA had multiple 100-yard rushers in the same game in nearly a decade, and no longer is Charbonnet the only guy opposing teams have to prepare for.
As similar as their play styles and body types are, the pair of runners bring their own individual contributions on a game-to-game basis. Brown, despite his stature, almost served as a change of pace guy Saturday.
Regardless of who's in what role, Charbonnet and Brown are going to be dangerous moving forward.
Thompson-Robinson is not himself
For whatever reason, Thompson-Robinson just did not have it Saturday night.
Good for him and the coaching staff for realizing that and dialing up a new game plan at halftime, because he came out and went 7-of-11 on over 11 yards per completion in the second half. He also had two nice keepers that went for touchdowns, one on a pitch option he tucked and ran and another on a bootleg designed pass play.
With that being said, the only reason the Bruins had to adjust in the first place is because Thompson-Robinson was just dreadful to start this game.
On the first drive alone, Thompson-Robinson had four incompletions before finally hitting tight end Greg Dulcich in the end zone for six. That 3-yard play to cap off a run-heavy drive with a nice bail-out call was the only production he would get in the entire first half.
Thompson-Robinson was 1-of-8 in the first half, and he finished it off with an absolute duck over the middle with 30 seconds left. Not only did he force it into double coverage, but he also underthrew the ball by a solid 10 yards.
He was getting rushed all night, having to throw it away more than he had all year, and there was once again another bad snap by center Duke Clemens that he had to clean up and chuck away. Thompson-Robinson said after the game that the struggles had nothing to do with the injury he sustained against Stanford a few weeks ago, even though he said last Monday that he wasn't back to 100%.
It wasn't like he was visibly in pain Saturday, and his mechanics looked normal for him.
Thompson-Robinson just totally had the yips, apparently, and the Bruins won't be able to rush for 300 yards every time that happens.
Just staying afloat
A win is a win, and on paper, there isn't too much more you can ask for as a coach or a fan.
But having to play as messily as the Bruins did to beat a winless conference bottom-feeder can't mean great things for the upcoming gauntlet. Arizona, as stated above, is far from the worst team in the FBS and should probably have a win or two to its name already based on how well they've played.
UCLA is trying to win the Pac-12 though, so even if Arizona is deemed mediocre, the Bruins should be beating them far more easily if they want to really contend for a conference title.
Washington isn't great either, but they're probably better than Arizona. Utah and Oregon are coming up too. Saturday's performance, while not as bad as some made it out to be in real time, does not inspire a lot of confidence heading into those key games later this month.
UCLA could very easily come out next week and prove it belongs and make a real statement in Seattle. But great teams don't play down to mediocre competition, which means the Bruins might be just that – mediocre.