UCLA certainly isn’t shying away from preseason expectations.

In Chip Kelly’s fifth year at the helm of the Bruins’ program, he has arguably his best team yet. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson is entering into his fifth year as a starter in Kelly’s system. Tailback Zach Charbonnet returns as one of the country’s best runners after going for 1,137 yards on the ground last year. Transfers come into the program at key spots, a new defensive coordinator hopes to bring improvement on that side of the ball, and the Bruins hope to end a decades-long Rose Bowl drought.

The Bruins haven’t made an appearance in the Rose Bowl Game since 1999. They haven’t won the affair since 1986. Thompson-Robinson told The L.A. Times’ Ben Bolch last week he thinks about ending the wait every day. And, according to Bolch, wideout Kaz Allen said this week the team is taking that approach to heart.

“Our whole mindset is Rose Bowl or bust, so we’ve got to get there,” Allen said.

UCLA went 8-4 a year ago, marking the best season under Kelly so far. A bowl game that could have produced a ninth win was canceled at the last minute because of COVID issues inside the UCLA program.

ESPN’s FPI projects another 8-4 record for the Bruins this season, but it also gives Kelly’s squad the fourth-best odds of getting to the Pac-12 title game. With eight home games on the docket and a nonconference slate that should produce nothing but a 3-0 record with plenty of rest time for the starters, UCLA’s schedule sets up nicely to accommodate a title run.

It gets Utah at home on Oct. 8 before a bye week, then Oregon on the road coming off the off-week. That three-week stretch could very well determine whether UCLA is playing for a spot in Las Vegas—and, by extension, a spot in Pasadena at the end of the season—or for another Holiday Bowl berth.

From the way the team is talking, the latter would be quite the disappointment.