Two Words Bruins Fans Haven’t Heard In Some Time: Bowl Eligible

UCLA Wide Receiver Kyle Phillips returns a punt for a touchdown. Photo by Jevone Moore / Full Image 360

Pasadena, CA – After the Bruins missed a field goal late in the second quarter against Colorado, those that were at the Rose Bowl felt a weird hum in the air. Down 17-7, the Buffaloes had UCLA’s number. While things were practically even keel on the stat sheet, Colorado managed a 20-10 lead at halftime and felt quite comfortable.

UCLA quarterback following his blocking. Photo by Jevone Moore / Full Image 360

Something changed in the air as the Pasadena breeze suddenly kicked in that gave UCLA its mojo. A 20 point third quarter that was accelerated by the UCLA running game propelled the Bruins into a dominant 44-20 victory that has finally tied two words to this program they have been waiting for in so long: bowl-eligible.

“This is a special group of guys that have really bonded with each other,” Bruins head coach Chip Kelly said. “They have worked real hard to get here. This has taken some time to get to where we are today, but this is a true attest to what these guys can do and what they have learned throughout the years with our program.”

The third quarter for UCLA saw what the Bruins had done to their opponents in each win, mixing a solid pass game with a very effective run game. UCLA managed 219 total yards, where two thirds of them came on the ground. The offensive imbalance didn’t seem that way when Dorian Thompson Robinson set up a lot of their offense that allowed the run game to develop in a big way. In their three scoring drives, Thompson Robinson had three key plays, both in the air and on the ground, putting UCLA back in control.

“Dorian is an awfully confident young man,” Kelly said. “I don’t know if I have been around a tougher kid than him, what he’s been through so far this year. He was critical with his legs today, and he was very critical throwing the ball when he adjusted in the second half.”

UCLA’s defense also managed to fill up a lot of its holes. A shut out third quarter was capitalized by taking away the Colorado running game that controlled the tempo for much of the first half. After rushing for over 150 yards on the ground in the first half, the Buffaloes only racked up 22 in the third quarter. Their lone chance at points came on a missed field goal that eventually led to a Bruin score on the ensuing drive.

UCLA’s adjustments in the third quarter showed this team has gelled in the right way. A loss to Colorado would have raised a lot of questions as to how the Bruins program would end up to close out the season, especially with two winnable games to close out the season. Instead, a 6-4 record and being bowl eligible before their final two games can change a program for the better.

Photo by Jevone Moore / Full Image 360

“If you think you can kick your feet up because we had a really good second half against Colorado, that’s not what its about,” Kelly said. “The challenge is always ahead of you, and that’s the fun part about it.” This team loves to compete. We were not happy we had a bye the last week, and we are fortunate to have a big game next week. You have to earn your opportunity to play ahead, and this group certainly has.”