No. 10 Oregon is set to face off with UCLA inside the Rose Bowl on Saturday as the two Pac-12 contenders collide. The Ducks are the conference's only team ranked in the AP Top 25 and still have a marquee win over No. 5 Ohio State in their pocket, but have looked shaky since. Oregon needed a late touchdown to beat 1-5 Cal in Week 7, but heroic play from potential No. 1 overall draft pick DE Kayvon Thibodeaux has kept his team in the win column.
UCLA earned a trip into the AP Top 25 after beating LSU in Week 2, but struggled defensively in losses to Fresno State and Arizona State. The Bruins beat Washington 24-17 last week behind 131 yards rushing from running back Zach Charbonnet and three total touchdowns from quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who is having a great season with more than 1,700 total yards and 18 touchdowns.
The Bruins hold a 41-30 advantage all-time in the series, but Oregon has won two consecutive games, including a 38-35 victory last season against UCLA's backup quarterback, Chase Griffin. How will this game shake out? Here are the storylines to watch, as well as picks straight up and against the spread.
Oregon vs. UCLA: Need to know
Pac-12 implications: Both teams sit with just a single loss in conference play and could be favorites to earn a trip to the Pac-12 Championship Game. However, whichever team suffers a second loss will likely fall out of the conference title discussion. The Pac-12 standings are jam-packed at this point with five teams having one conference loss or fewer. Every win matters down the stretch.
Running crazy: The matchup brings together two of the top running games in the Pac-12 with the Bruins and Ducks each averaging more than 210 yards per game. Charbonnet has been a revelation in Los Angeles since transferring from Michigan, reaching 100 yards in every win with Brittain Brown and Thompson-Robinson also factoring in heavily. With Oregon's star rusher C.J. Verdell ruled out for the season, the Ducks have leaned heavily on Travis Dye and a strong offensive line. Dye has 333 yards rushing on 43 carries in the last three games, including 145 yards and a score against Cal. Both Oregon and UCLA's offensive lines were named to the midseason Joe Moore Award honor roll, the only two Pac-12 teams to make the list.
Injury woes: The Ducks have lost a couple key pieces since the big win against the Buckyes. Verdell, linebacker Justin Flowe and STAR Bennett Williams have all been ruled out for the season. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the potential No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft, has also missed some time with an ankle injury. Even offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has been absent following an undisclosed emergency surgery. UCLA is one of the most physically punishing teams in the Pac-12 and Oregon's strength will be tested.
How to watch Oregon vs. UCLA live
Oregon vs. UCLA prediction, picks
One month ago, this matchup would have been one of college football's most heralded games. Instead, it presents itself as more of an elimination game in the Pac-12 title race. While the Bruins have flexed their muscles against the conference's middle class, Oregon's upside and line play gives it a narrow advantage, even on the road. Prediction: Oregon (+2)
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