Oregon vs. UCLA: How the Ducks get back on track
By the numbers, stats and gambling spread
Oregon returns to Autzen Stadium to host UCLA and coach Chip Kelly. The Ducks (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) look to bounce back after back-to-back losses at WSU and at Arizona.
A win would: Make Oregon bowl eligible for the second straight season and the 13th time in the last 14 years.
Fun fact: The Ducks have won five straight against the Bruins in Eugene while averaging 42.4 points during those victories.
Fun fact #2: UCLA is averaging a Pac-12-worst 21.2 points per game.
The Herbert factor: Quarterback Justin Herbert is nearing the 6,000 passing yards milestone, needing only 12 yards. The junior has thrown a touchdown pass in 23 consecutive games, the longest streak in the nation. Will he play or won’t he? More on his concussion protocol in the next slide.
Betting line: Oregon opened as a 10.5 point favorite, the line has moved to Oregon -8.5, with the news that UO quarterback Justin Herbert’s status is uncertain due to concussion protocol.
Oregon coach Mario Cristobal will not make a final decision if quarterback Justin Herbert and wide receiver Dillon Mitchell will play against UCLA until later in the week. Both were in concussion protocol this week;
-Herbert passed concussion protocol, practiced Wednesday
-Mitchell close to completing concussion protocol, did not practice Wednesday
Tight end Kano Dillon (did not travel to Arizona) participated in Wednesday’s practice. “He looks like he's going to be able to go (versus UCLA)," Crisotbal said.
Defensively, Oregon gets back two starters; defensive end Austin Faoliu (did not travel to Arizona, ankle injury) and linebacker Kaulana Apelu (limited last week). Both are expected to play vs. UCLA and fully participated in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Keys to an Oregon win
Get the running game going: If there is a game to get Oregon’s rushing attack back, it’s this game. UCLA's rush defense ranks 11th in the Pac-12 Conference and 107th nationally. The last two games, the Bruins gave up 289 rushing yards to Arizona and 325 rushing yards to Utah. The have not held an opponent under 100 yards rushing since Nov. 12, 2016 vs. Oregon State. Oregon gained only 84 yards on the ground last week against Arizona.
Win the trench battle: Since starting left tackle Penei Sewell has been out with injury, Oregon’s offensive line has struggled mightily. Not to say that Sewell is the sole reason for this, but the offensive line has struggled to create holes for Oregon's running backs and has not protected Herbert. Oregon’s defensive line must create pressure on whichever UCLA quarterback plays.
Score right away: The Ducks have had terribly slow starts in the last two losses. Against Arizona, Oregon’s offense couldn’t get a first down until its fifth drive of the game and the Ducks were scoreless in the first half against Washington State. The Ducks can’t afford another slow start and for uncertainty to creep into their minds. An early touchdown drive would help Oregon find some offensive rhythm immensely.
Players to keep an eye on
It is undetermined which UCLA quarterback will play vs. Oregon; Michigan transfer Wilton Speight or freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson. In UCLA’s 41-10 loss to Utah last Saturday, Speight started at quarterback after coming back from injury. Speight won the starting job before the season and suffered a back injury in the Bruins’ season opener. In his absence, Thompson-Robinson completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,176 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Thompson-Robinson is dealing with a shoulder injury, and if healthy, could be who Oregon faces on Saturday.
Running back Joshua Kelley: Kelley has excelled in the last four weeks. He’s powerful and shifty. He's averaging 126.4 rushing yards in conference play.
Tight end Caleb Wilson and wide receiver Theo Howard: UCLA’s top two targets. Wilson, 6-foot-5, 235-pounds, is the Bruin’s leading receiver with 479 yards on 34 receptions and a touchdown. Howard is a deep ball threat and became apart of UCLA’s 100-catch club last week, with 103 career receptions.
Safety Adarius Pickett: The senior is leading UCLA with 85 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups. He is also dangerous on punt return.
How and where to watch
Time: Saturday, Nov. 3, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)
GET READY FOR THE GAME: