LOS ANGELES — Friday night’s marquee matchup between UCLA and No. 15 Washington was a collision course between two of the three remaining Pac-12 unbeaten teams.

So perhaps it was not a surprise when Bruins head coach Chip Kelly said in his postgame press conference that the Bruins caravan had witnessed three accidents heading from the Westwood campus to the Rose Bowl on Friday night.

His UCLA offense would cause a fourth on Friday night, constantly smashing into the Huskies as the Bruins built a huge lead and hung on to close out the league’s hottest team.

Ultimately, UCLA scored its best win in years, a 40-32 win over the Huskies that should send the Bruins well into the top 25.

“This game is a race to maturity,” Kelly said. “You’re going to get tested, but competitors respond to those situations. Whether it be momentum swings or adversity or just random events that happen in a game, its about playing the next snap and not being down and having a little bit of resolve and I think our kids continue to build that. There’s a resiliency to this group.”


At a certain point it became laughable.

With 11 minutes, 35 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, the Bruins had the ball near the Huskies’ goal line, as they had so often before.

It was UCLA’s sixth consecutive drive that landed inside the Washington 20-yard line, and the 5th inside the 10 yard-line.

On a 1st-and-2 from the Huskies’ 2-yard line, Thompson-Robinson called his own number, sprinted right into the path of two Washington defenders, hit the juke button and caused the two Huskies to smash into each other. This was after hurdling a defender on another run earlier in the game.

This wasn’t a college football game, this was a Three Stooges act. The only thing that would’ve made it more entertaining is if they would’ve had whipped cream pies in their hands.

Only it stopped being funny for Washington at that point and the Huskies got mighty serious, mighty fast.

After the Thompson-Robinson touchdown run, Washington suddenly woke up, scoring touchdowns on three straight drives to make a game out of it.

And the Huskies would’ve had a chance if not for Thompson-Robinson.

UCLA needed some late-game magic from the UCLA veteran to close out the win, and he responded with 20 rushing yards on the final drive, chewing up nearly 4 minutes of game clock while sealing the win with a 6-yard pass to Hudson Habermehl on 3rd-and-5.

“I thought Dorian made some really good plays in the run game,” Kelly said. “To finish it off, the pass he threw to Habermehl, was awesome. A lot of people think you’re just gonna run clock. We weren’t trying to run clock, we were trying to win a game. You put the ball in your best player’s hands, and he came up big tonight.”

Kelly was asked about Thompson-Robinson’s maturity, and he hearkened back to his freshman year and his first career start against Oklahoma, in front of 93,000-plus mostly Sooner fans.

“The one thing about him is he doesn’t get fazed, he doesn’t get rattled.”

Thompson-Robinson, who has had a number of big games in his illustrious UCLA career, might have topped them all on Friday.

He finished with 315 passing yards on 24-of-33 passing with 3 passing touchdowns and he also ran 10 times for 53 yards and a score.
It was a banner performance by one of the Pac-12’s mainstays.

But Friday’s game wasn’t all about UCLA’s quarterback.

It was about Washington’s quarterback as well.


Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. entered the game as the Pac-12’s leading passer, and after one drive, his status was justified.

If UCLA dealt the final blow with its last clock-killing drive, the Huskies delivered the first blow with a bold call on their first drive that paid off in a big way. Washington went for it on a crucial 4th-and-6 on the Bruins’ 33-yard line, setting the tone early as Michael Penix connected with Rome Odunze for the 33-yard touchdown.

It was the Huskies’ fifth straight game with a touchdown on the opening possession and it appeared Penix would continue his reign as the Pac-12’s top passer. But on the second drive, Penix fumbled near his own goal line but Washington recovered the ball in the end zone for a safety.

That would just be the start of the star Husky’s troubles. Coming into the game with just one interception, Penix threw two against the Bruins, who built the early 26-10 lead before going up 40-16 before Washington made it close.

“Our guys really competed, I thought our defense did a great job,” Kelly said. “You know, [Michael] Penix led the nation in passing coming into this game. … I thought our guys did a great job in coverage, and we know how explosive their offense can be, to get them to turn it over twice in the first half was really big for us on the defensive side of the ball. It was important for us to not to turn it over at all – when you’re playing in conference games, if you win the turnover battle, you have a shot.”


With a midseason gauntlet that includes a home game against No. 12 Utah next Saturday and a road battle at No. 13 Oregon following a bye, we’ll learn a lot about the Bruins over the next few weeks.

What might we learn?

We might learn that the Pac-12’s top quarterback is in fact its longest-tenured, not one of these fly-by-night transfers who are still trying to mesh with their teams.

We might learn that UCLA’s powerful rushing attack, led by the 1-2 punch of Zach Charbonnet (124 yards Friday) and Thompson-Robinson, is the most formidable in the conference.

We might learn that Kelly was indeed the right hire — and that it was the right call to extend his contract — now that he’s regained some of his mojo.

More than anything, we might learn that the Bruins are for real, after opening the season with four straight cupcakes.

“I’m reading all the articles out there throughout the week saying that we are the worst 4-0 teams out there,” Thompson-Robinson said. “They’re writing us off. My boys came here with a chip on their shoulders. I think I told you all on Monday to see if Washington can run with us, not the other way around, so that’s my answer. I’m turned up. Ooh-wee.”