After a tough Saturday for the Pac-12, the league got the boost it needed when UCLA took a 38-27 takedown from No. 16 LSU in the Rose Bowl. The Bruins competed as slight underdogs but physically outperformed the Tigers by putting quarterback Max Johnson under pressure all night on their way to the marquee win. It’s the Bruins’ biggest win since 2015, when they won the then No. 13 Utah 17-9.
The UCLA defense fired and knocked Johnson four times while he thrived behind a strong defense that stormed LSU to just 48 yards. UCLA’s offense wasn’t bad either, with Zach Charbonnet running 117 yards and a touchdown at 11 carries. The Michigan transfer also brought a 35-yard reception in the second quarter for a touchdown that improved the Bruins 14-7.
UCLA never gave up the lead from there, taking the game 6:31 out of reach when quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson found receiver Kyle Phillips for a 45-yard touchdown strike. The win improves UCLA to 2-0 under fourth-year coach Chip Kelly, who took his second win against a rated opponent on Saturday.
LSU will be getting back to the drawing board with a lot of work as it is home to McNeese State next week. UCLA is down week 2 before hosting Fresno State on September 18. The Bruins started 2-0 with wins totaling 45 points ahead of LSU and Hawaii in week 0.
1. UCLA announces Pac-12
This will be a difficult reality for some, but a Pac-12 team that wasn’t recruited to the elite level dominated an SEC team that was full of talent up front. The Bruins are a seasoned squad, and their offensive line helped open some big holes for Charbonnet and Brittain Brown at the right times. Conversely, LSU’s offensive line could neither stop UCLA’s pass rush nor create holes in the running game.
Unlike Kelly’s Oregon teams, which were built on perimeter speed, this team is based on physicality and legitimate veteran leadership. If Thompson-Robinson can play within himself, as he did most of Saturday, the Bruins will be tough on the Pac-12. Their schedule is tough as they face Oregon and Washington from the Pac-12 North. But the No. 11 Ducks fought Fresno State on Saturday, and the No. 20 Huskies fell from the FCS to Montana. If this game proves to be an accurate representation of the Bruins, don’t be surprised if their game at USC on November 20th has an impact on Pac-12 South’s title race.
2. Chip Kelly’s big win
Kelly was viewed as a slam dunk employee in November 2017 due to his previous success in Oregon and had yet to find a formula for success at UCLA this season. After last season’s 3-4 finish, in which all four defeats totaled 15 points, he started the 2021 season with just a 10-21 record at the Bruins.
It took longer than expected, but he’s finally got UCLA back to a high level. In fact, Kelly’s tenure now looks promising compared to many hired during the 2017-18 coaching carousel. It outlasted Kevin Sumlin, Arizona, Chad Morris, Arkansas, Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee, Willie Taggart, Florida State, and Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State.
3. Greg Dulcich is a weapon
UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich’s 2020 breakout season flew under the radar due to the Pac-12’s shortened slate, but the former walk-on revealed the conference he was able to play last season. On Saturday he also showed the country. Dulcich’s three receptions went for 117 yards, including a 75 yard score that got the Bruins on the board. His other two receptions were first downs and helped set up UCLA scores.
4. Kayshon Boutte is something special
The speed of the LSU on the perimeter was sometimes evident and evident in receiver Kayshon Boutte’s play. The second-year runner ended the 2020 season with a 300-yard, three-touchdown reception against Ole Miss and picked up where it left off against the Bruins. Boutte again collected three touchdown catches from his total of nine receptions for 148 yards. It may not seem like much comfort to Tigers fans right now, but they have a special talent in Boutte, and he clearly has chemistry with Johnson. He won’t qualify for the NFL Draft until 2023, but if he is, you can expect his name to be mentioned in the first round. Junior receiver Trey Palmer also showed breakout potential for the Tigers when he finished with seven catches after entering the game at just 11 for his career.