Winners And Losers From UCLA’s Loss To Oregon

Dorian Thompson-Robinson Throwing Against Oregon. Photo Credit: Eric Hurd | UCLA Athletics
Dorian Thompson-Robinson Throwing Against Oregon. Photo Credit: Eric Hurd | UCLA Athletics

This past weekend’s Oregon UCLA matchup at the Rose Bowl was about as big a matchup as it gets for this Bruins team. This would kick off a tough stretch of conference games for UCLA and determine who would be the frontrunner in the Pac-12 moving forward. Oregon was hoping to keep not only their Pac-12 hopes but also their playoff hopes alive, while UCLA was hoping to get a signature win under Chip Kelly and prove that they were truly ready to compete in the Pac-12.

The game lived up to the hype and came down to the very end, but ultimately it was Oregon who prevailed, 34-31 in a close one. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers for what will likely end up being a turning point for UCLA’s season.


Dorian Thompson-Robinson

DTR didn’t have a perfect day by any means. He was only 22/41 for 220 yards, 2 total touchdowns, an interception, and a fumble. But my god is this kid a competitor. He was getting absolutely demolished by Oregon’s defensive line on just about every snap, yet he still brought his team back into the game from a seemingly insurmountable deficit late. He converted multiple fourth downs and had the Bruins on the move for a game-tying or possibly game-winning drive before he had to leave the game due to injury. DTR may never be a perfect passer, but he has absolutely proven his worth to this Bruins team.

Kyle Philips

Philips has disappeared for stretches throughout this year, but he was back on Saturday. He was DTR’s leading receiver in this one with eight receptions.


Ethan Garbers

Garbers is likely the future for the Bruins, and all signs point toward him being a very good player. He came in on the Bruins’ final drive and had a few impressive completions, one of which was on fourth down. He also had a nice ball to Dulcich that the tight end was unable to haul in. The arm talent is very immediately apparent with him. Unfortunately, he also threw a game-ending interception which sealed the win for the Ducks. Garbers absolutely was thrown into action in a really tough spot in this game, especially for someone so inexperienced. Unfortunately, though, that doesn’t change the fact that he made a bad mistake to end it.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s Health

DTR has been battling injury all season and throughout his Bruins career as well. He had to exit this game on UCLA’s final offensive drive. If he doesn’t get hurt, it’s very likely the Bruins are at least able to tie things up. But DTR took an absolute beating in this game, and even if he is able to finish out the season, those hits do affect you in the long term.

QB Run Defense

Ducks QB Anthony Brown didn’t do a lot of running, but when he did, he absolutely gashed the Bruins. He had a few chunk running plays where he was simply untouched, and he finished the day with 85 yards and a touchdown on just six carries. It’s beyond time for this Bruins defense to stop giving up explosive plays. If you can’t defend a running QB in 2021, you’re not going to have much success in today’s college football game.

Offensive Line

As I mentioned earlier, DTR was under pressure pretty much immediately on just about every dropback. Sure, facing Kayvon Thibodeaux and this Ducks defensive line certainly had something to do with that. But at the end of the day, these guys have to do a better job protecting our quarterback, especially considering the fact that he keeps getting injured.


Penalties and self-inflicted mistakes have defined Chip Kelly’s UCLA tenure, and fans are getting tired of hearing about it during Chip’s press conferences when it keeps happening with no solution in sight. The Bruins defense had two interceptions negated by offsides penalties in this game. Those are unforced errors, and again and again, we see them change the complexion of these games.

Run Game

UCLA’s long streak of outrushing their opponents was finally broken in this one. The Bruins only rushed for 110 yards on the day, and DTR, Zach Charbonnet, and Brittain Brown were all held under 4 yards per carry. That’s just not going to get it done, and as I have said time and time before, this Bruins team cannot win if they don’t have a running game.

Greg Dulcich

Dulcich had multiple key third-down drops on the Bruins final drive. He was bailed out by fourth-down conversions on both of them, but those are plays you have to make when not only the game, but arguably the season, is on the line.

Luke Akers

The Bruins punter dropped the ball deep in his own territory when attempting to punt it away, and the Ducks fell on it and would eventually score. Another unforced error, and another play that simply can’t happen.


Will we ever see this Bruins team play a full sixty minutes of football against a good opponent? It’s starting to look like the answer is no. The Bruins started strong and finished strong, but for much of the in-between, they got gashed by Oregon and could not get anything going.

Pac-12 Referees

This isn’t the first time Pac-12 refs have been in the spotlight, nor will it likely be the last. But man, the officiating was quite simply unacceptable in this one. The refs let the Ducks defenders get away with pass interference multiple times, one of which was on an incomplete endzone shot by DTR on 4th and 18 in the fourth quarter. It should have been pass interference and a first down, but instead, it was a turnover on downs. UCLA was down by 10 at the time, and they were down by 17 the next time they got it back. That’s a game-changing no-call.

UCLA Crowd Attendance

Chip Kelly’s Bruins have suffered some really pitiful attendance numbers over the past few years, and after this loss, it’s not likely to get better. I get that California and UCLA don’t quite have the football culture of some of these schools in the South, but even so. This was a season-defining game with the Bruins’ best team in years in a national daytime slot with ESPN’s lead announcing team AND College Gameday on campus. What more motivation do you need to show up? The Rose Bowl was somewhat crowded, but there were still visible empty patches. It should have been full. Come on guys, we can do better than this.

Chip Kelly

We’re still waiting for Chip Kelly’s signature win as the UCLA head coach. If not now, when? The Bruins already looked terrible against Arizona State, and now they were unable to get it done against Oregon. They’re on the road at Utah next week, which does not bode well considering how they’ve played against Utah in recent years. They also still have to face USC on the road, and even though USC isn’t good this year, rivalry games are always tough. The LSU win was great, don’t get me wrong, but that was an out-of-conference matchup, and it’s looking less impressive in the rearview mirror considering how LSU has looked for the rest of the year. Right now, the Bruins look good but unable to get over the hump. And there’s really no reason to think they ever will until we see it.The Oregon game was a great game that gave us just about everything we expected… except for a win. I truly believe this could be a turning point for UCLA’s season. After an emotional loss like that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Utah blew UCLA out next week. Let’s hope I’m wrong, but we all know how critical the rest of the season is for this program.

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Dorian Thompson-Robinson Throwing Against Oregon. Photo Credit: Eric Hurd | UCLA Athletics

Dorian Thompson-Robinson Throwing Against Oregon. Photo Credit: Eric Hurd | UCLA Athletics