Pasadena, CA – UCLA had this game all said and done. Going head to toe for just about the entire game, all they needed was a strong drive by Doran Thompson Robinson to set up their kicker Nicholas Barr Mira for a game winning field goal. Thompson Robinson got the Bruins to the USC 25 yard line, and Barr Mira’s kick was near perfect. With the Bruins now up two, just about every Bruin wanted to rush their mitts to the victory bell. The potential win would give Chip Kelly his first winning season as the Bruin head coach and a strong road to next year.
For the entire game, each kickoff ended up in the end zone for a touchback. With about 50 seconds left, all Barr Mira need to do was kick the ball as hard as he could to get it into the paint as USC had used up all of their timeouts. He didn’t. Retrieved at the USC 1 yard line, UCLA looked sluggish on the kickoff thinking as if the Trojans would just down the ball in the endzone. Instead, RJ Lopez hugged the sideline and ran the ball down the field, eventually being down at the UCLA 43. All USC needed was a field goal to steal the win and take back bragging rights. USC instead rubbed it back in the Bruins face and took two plays to get into the endzone that put UCLA in awe.
This article should be about how UCLA has changed their ways and now have become relevant in the Pac-12. Thompson Robinson had to sit out two games because of COVID-19 contact tracing, leaving Chase Griffin in charge. He held his ground against Oregon and had a marvelous game against Arizona. Demetric Felton had a break out season and put the UCLA running game to work all season long. The UCLA defense wrecked havoc against the backfield. These are the recipes of a team that has slowly figured themselves out and get ready for next season as talks of the town.
Instead, USC took that all away. While there is a lot to look forward to for next season, now all the pressure lies upon Chip Kelly. Regardless of this game, it would be hard to argue that Kelly would not be on the hot seat next season as he was able to lead the Bruins to a .500 season. In his first two seasons, he needed five and three games respectively to earn his first victory. In those seasons, just about every aspect was a major work in progress. Amidst a rough season for just about every college football program, Kelly had proven his worth, winning games he needed and hanging around as much as he could in the games he lost, including the USC contest. A Bruin win over USC would have put the conversation towards getting ready for next season and give Kelly credit where credit is due.
Now, Kelly could be in a bit of trouble. One could argue that with or without this game, the Bruins need a strong 2021 to consider Kelly sticking around. He will be in year four of his five year, 23 million dollar contract. Much of this is loaded with bonuses, which includes a $1 million bonus if he remains employed through February 2021 and February 2022. He will be also guaranteed $4 million next season. However, if Kelly is fired within the first four years of his contract, he would be guaranteed $9 million for potential wrongful termination. All this seems to be a recipe for Kelly to have a season that the Bruins can hope for. The bad thing: he has a roster now that has shown they can compete. The time ticks now to help relieve the sting from a Trojan loss, and that all begins in early September 2021.