The biggest game in the Pac-12 to this point in the season headlines on Saturday as No. 9 UCLA, off to an unbeaten start as one of the more surprising teams in the country, looks to keep the momentum alive when it faces No. 10 Oregon. Both teams are coming off bye weeks and should be well-prepared for this showdown in Eugene, Oregon, as conference races heat up around the country.
The Bruins posted back-to-back wins over ranked conference foes prior to the bye week, knocking off then-undefeated Washington and the stout Utah Utes in emphatic fashion. Led by star quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, the offense leads the conference in yards per play at 7.17 and plays of 40 or more yards (10).
The Ducks have topped the 40-point mark in each their last five games, and quarterback Bo Nix has evolved into one of the more efficient signal-callers in the Pac-12 after spending three years starting at Auburn.
Let’s preview the matchup and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Oregon vs. UCLA: Need to know
One-two punch: Thompson-Robinson gets all the publicity, but don’t sleep on star running back Zach Charbonnet. The Michigan transfer leads the Pac-12 in rushing and is the only player in the conference who averages more than 100 yards per game (123.0). He is coming off of a career-best, 198-yard performance in the win over Utah, which is even more impressive considering how physical the Utes are up front. That’s what makes this offense so intriguing. Coach Chip Kelly hasn’t abandoned the spread principles for which he is known, but he added size and physicality in the trenches that make it difficult for Pac-12 defenses to handle. Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet run it perfectly, and it’ll be fascinating to see how Kelly built off of their foundation during the bye week.
Nix has help: The Ducks quarterback struggled with consistency during his first three years in the sport, but that changed once he moved out west. He has tossed 12 touchdowns, only three interceptions while completing 70.4% of his passes and is averaging 8.2 yards per carry. Having a versatile rushing attack has been a huge part of that consistency. Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington are both averaging over 6.4 yards per carry and have done a great job keeping defenses honest. The threat they provide has helped Nix not only through the air but to score eight touchdowns on the ground.
Limit the big plays: This one will likely come down to which team limits the big plays, and the Bruins have a leg up on that heading into Saturday’s showdown. They have given up just 16 total plays of 20 or more yards in six games, and only one of those came on the ground. That’s what makes this Bruins team so intriguing — it’s much more of a complete team than many realize.
How to watch Oregon vs. UCLA live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 22 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Autzen Stadium — Eugene, Oregon
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Oregon vs. UCLA prediction, picks
Featured Game | Oregon Ducks vs. UCLA Bruins
I’ll take the Bruins to not only cover but win outright. Thompson-Robinson has evolved into one of the best playmakers in the country, and the stress that Kelly’s scheme puts on the opposing front seven will be too much for the Ducks to handle. Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet will combine for more than 200 sack-adjusted rushing yards and stun what should be a rowdy crowd in Eugene. Prediction: UCLA +6
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