We’ve got a big-time Pac-12 matchup on the slate this coming Saturday. Chip Kelly and UCLA will head to Autzen to face off against the Oregon Ducks. Chip Kelly will be returning to his old stomping ground in Oregon, where he helped lead the Ducks to a 46-7 overall record and a National Championship game appearance. Kelly’s already faced Oregon several times since coming to UCLA, so this game is nothing new to him.
UCLA and Oregon Renew Their Rivalry
What is important is the fact that both of these teams rank in the top 10, with Oregon ranked 10th and UCLA ranked 9th. It will be the first top-10 matchup in the Pac-12 since 2018 and the first top-10 matchup for UCLA since 2001. The Pac-12 seems to be BACK, and this should be a great game with significant implications moving forward.
We already know about what UCLA has done this season. They’re currently undefeated, with Chip Kelly’s vision seemingly finally having come to fruition. They’ve utilized an experienced quarterback, a transfer-heavy roster, a dynamic offense, and an improved defense on the way to 6-0. They’re coming off of back-to-back top 25 victories–against Washington and Utah–and should be rested up and ready to go following a bye week.
Oregon is no slouch either. They’ve been a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12 for years. They look as good as they have in quite some time this year under first-year head coach Dan Lanning. Oregon looked terrible in Week 1 against the defending National Champions, but since then they have looked straight-up dominant, scoring over 40 points in each of their last five games. Key to their success has been transfer quarterback Bo Nix. A dangerous dual-threat quarterback who was at times maddeningly inconsistent at Auburn, Nix has looked phenomenal in this offense. Like the rest of the team, he really hasn’t skipped a beat following the Week 1 loss.
These teams actually haven’t played any common opponents yet. UCLA has had the tougher schedule recently, but Oregon would likely be undefeated had they played a cupcake in Week 1 instead of possibly the best team in the country. It is notable that this will only be UCLA’s second road game all year, their first being against listless Colorado.
Autzen is one of the toughest places to play in the country, and Oregon has won 21 straight there. It will be a hostile environment, and that gives Oregon a noteworthy advantage. If UCLA falls behind early, the game is likely over, so they’ll need to be prepared and not let the crowd get dictate the momentum early. But when you’ve barely played on the road all year, you never know how those things are going to turn out.
This game has huge Pac-12 title implications. The four best teams in the Pac-12 are currently (in no particular order), USC, UCLA, Utah, and Oregon. All but UCLA already have a tick in the loss column, so if Oregon gets the win they can still be in the mix for the Pac-12 title. But of course, you’d rather get the win. ESPN’s College Gameday is headed to Eugene which only kicks off what should be a must-watch game between two great teams and will reveal the true pecking order within the Pac-12. UCLA and the Pac-12 haven’t had so many marquee matchups with such high stakes in some time. It is a welcome and refreshing change.