The Beavers football team will travel south down to Pasadena, CA today to take on the UCLA Bruins in what will be Oregon State’s second conference game of the season.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 2016 season, as well as the first match between the two schools since the Bruins hired Chip Kelly as their head coach. Despite sharing a conference, these two teams haven’t played each other in recent years and both teams enter the matchup with one win each.
Last week, the Bruins ultimately lost a close game on the road against the Arizona Wildcats by a final score of 20-17. The Bruins carried a slim 7-6 lead into halftime, but struggled to finish many of their possessions with points, turning the ball over on downs two times in the first half and punting four more times throughout the contest.
The Bruins defense performed well throughout the night, holding the Wildcats to just 20 points and 451 total yards, both their lowest totals on the season. However, UCLA missed a 38-yard field goal towards the end of the fourth quarter that would have sent the game into overtime.
The Bruins’ talented defense performing well in spite of offensive struggles has been the story through most of the season. The Bruins defense is filled with talented and experienced players at every level, starting seven players that are upperclassmen, including three senior linebackers.
In contrast, UCLA’s offense faces the need to develop during the remainder of the season. Opposite to their defense, UCLA’s offense is considerably young, with over half of their starting unit being comprised of underclassmen.
The offense’s inexperience has shown in the final results with the Bruins being held to under 20 points in four of their first five games and averaging 25.2 points per game, placing them 92nd in points per. The lack of offensive production comes as a slight surprise given their current head coach.
Chip Kelly, who coached at the University of Oregon from 2007-2012, developed a reputation during his college career for coaching teams with high powered offenses that turned in high scoring performances on a weekly basis. While at UO, Kelly’s offenses ranked in the top ten nationally in points per game every season. On a new team and a few years after that brilliance, Kelly has struggled to replicate that offensive production at UCLA.
While the consistency hasn’t been there for Kelly’s offense, they were able to showcase their potential earlier this year with a 67-63 win over the previously 19th ranked Washington State Cougars, the Bruins only win on the season. Despite following up their 67 point performance with just 17 points against the Wildcats, UCLA is just one game removed from their dominant performance and will be looking to replicate it against the Beavers this Saturday.
Much like the Bruins, the Beavers are coming off a tough loss to a conference opponent. The Stanford Cardinals were able to get their second win on the year on September 28th, coming to Corvallis and beating the Beavers by a final score of 31-28.
The defense was able to hold firm against the Stanford running attack on the day, allowing just 100 rushing yards on 31 attempts, and often forcing Stanford into difficult third down situations. The problem for the Beaver defense came down to letting the Cardinals convert their third down opportunities, allowing Stanford to get 50% of their third down attempts, and giving up two touchdowns on third down.
Despite the loss, the Beavers played well in the second half. They scored all of their 28 points in the third and fourth quarters and were able to tie a game they once trailed 21-0 with just 1:55 remaining in the game.
Coach Jonathan Smith hopes to carry the momentum his team was able to gain in the second half with him to Pasadena.
“This game is about momentum,” Smith said at a press conference on Monday, Sept. 30th. “When this team gets a little momentum, we’re a whole lot better.”
Both the Beavers and the Bruins are coming off of three-point losses the week prior, but are looking to bounce back and claim their second win of the season. They’ll both get their chance to do so today, Saturday, October 5th in Pasadena, CA. The game can be seen on Pac 12 Networks.