UCLA dominates Cal; Which bowl game will Bruins play in?

Chip Kelly would refuse, refuse to hear, and probably cut the suggestion in mid-sentence.

His UCLA Bruins have some momentum towards their first bowl game in four years.

UCLA’s 42:14 win over California on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl, which spanned 32 points in a row from the second through fourth quarters, gave the Bruins a third straight win for the second time in Kelly’s four seasons.

That every triumph in this final run came over a team with a record losing will not detract from the fact that Kelly saw the wins he needed to cement his reputation with likely only one season left on his contract.

The Bruins (8-4 total, 6-3 Pac-12 Conference) will likely head to either the Las Vegas Bowl or the Holiday Bowl, with the latter having a representative in the Rose Bowl press box on Saturday. It will be UCLA’s first bowl appearance since losing the Cactus Bowl in 2017.

Bruins tight end Greg Dulcich runs with the ball in the first half. He had six catches for 86 yards and one touchdown.

(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

“The way we’ve built things over the past few years and everything to bear fruit,” said Bruins tight-end Greg Dulcich, who caught a 29-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, ” Bowl game experience is something I am very excited to be able to do this for the first time. “

Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet ran 106 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson made a total of 266 yards offensive, which could have been their last appearances at the Rose Bowl. Neither player has said whether he will return next season or go for the NFL draft.

Thompson-Robinson’s final pass found its way into the hands of receiver Kyle Philips in the back of the end zone in a four-yard touchdown, the second time Philips got behind the Cal defense on a play in which he scored had slipped. Thompson-Robinson completed 19 of 28 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns while running 102 yards in 13 carries.

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers is brought down by UCLA defenseman Cameron Johnson (right) and linebacker Mitchell Agude.

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers (center) is brought down by UCLA defenseman Cameron Johnson (right) and linebacker Mitchell Agude.

(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Las Vegas-born Thompson-Robinson didn’t hide his wishes for the UCLA postseason goal and hoped for the Las Vegas Bowl.

“I speak it into life,” he said, “I can’t wait to go home.”

UCLA’s defense held Cal for a total of 217 yards and knocked out the Golden Bears (4-7, 3-5) in the final 37 minutes after the Bruins dropped 14-10 in the middle of the second quarter. Cal had a fourth and one at the UCLA one-yard line in the final minutes, but quarterback Chase Garbers’ pass was interrupted in the end zone by Bruins cornerback John Humphrey.

UCLA largely avoided the USC hangover, improving to 2-6 overall and 1-3 under Kelly in games a week after playing against their rival since the conference expanded in 2011. Kelly declined to discuss his contract status when asked if he would like an extension.

“I don’t have to go over my contract with you, so I’m fine,” said Kelly. “I’ve always been good. So I have an agent and he takes care of things and that’s how it works. “

UCLA recognized 21 seniors ahead of the game, with Kelly hugging each player, although more than a handful could potentially return next season due to the additional eligibility provided by COVID-19. According to the school, only nine players on the team have depleted their eligibility to play, including running back Brittain Brown, offensive lineman Paul Grattan Jr., linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath, defensive lineman Datona Jackson and defensive backs Qwuantrezz Knight, Cameron Johnson and Obi Eboh.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson runs with the ball in the first half.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson rushed for 102 yards in 13 carries.

(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Brown did not play a second game in a row after injuring himself in the Bruins’ win over Colorado late this month and is expected to return for the bowl game.

“We’re practicing this week,” Kelly said, “so we have three or four weeks with them, so I said to our boys, ‘Don’t get too emotional because it’s really not a senior night.’ The last game we play will be our bowl game and that will be an emotional time because of the connection with this team. “

The first half was mostly about failure and redemption.

UCLA’s Kazmeir Allen suffered the biggest mistake when he kicked off a fumble in the middle of the second quarter. Cal recovered at the Bruins’ 13-yard line. It temporarily looked like the Bruins might hold the Golden Bears on a field goal when Cal committed an inexcusable delay in play after a timeout, forcing the third and 10, but Garbers made a 12 yard pass on one.

Garbers ran into the end zone on the next move, giving Cal a 14-10 lead.

Allen would atone for his slip on UCLA’s next trip when he sprinted to an eight-yard touchdown on a jet sweep to restore the Bruins to the lead 17-14, 26 seconds back in the first half.

Garbers, the older brother of UCLA Redshirt freshman quarterback Ethan Garbers, cost his team with two interceptions. The first interception made by UCLA cornerback Jay Shaw resulted in the Bruins’ first touchdown after a four-yard pass from Thompson-Robinson to Philips in the back of the end zone.

Ethan Garbers was able to play on UCLA’s last possession but did not throw a pass.

The seasoned UCLA players could see their progress under Kelly, from 3-9 in 2018, through 4-8 in 2019, up to 3-4 in 2020 and 8-4 in 2021 with one game still to play.

Thompson-Robinson said, “This team took a lot of chunks and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. Only the moments of adversity that I experienced with my teammates and everything that brought us together have finally paid off. We have a season with eight wins and we keep it going. “

Said Quentin Lake Safety, “We were in the dumps for the first two years. To be honest, it was tough because you want to win, you want to be successful. If things don’t go that way you may lose hope, lose a little confidence, but we’ve bought into the program, into what coach Kelly had for us. I’ve had a bit more experience over the years and you can see what happens when you have people shopping. “

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