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The Sports Report: What he doesn’t know won’t bother him

UCLA v Stanford
PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 17: Dorian Thompson-Robinson #1 of the UCLA Bruins throws the ball while being pressured by Gabe Reid #90 and Casey Toohill #52 of the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on October 17, 2019 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

UCLA FOOTBALL

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said he didn’t know the Bruins were 0-11 against Stanford over the previous decade, including a loss in the Pac-12 Conference championship, when he started the game Thursday against the Cardinal.

“I had no clue until after the game,” Thompson-Robinson said upon finally getting clued in following UCLA’s 34-16 victory at Stanford Stadium.

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Obliviousness worked just fine for the sophomore in his return from a leg injury that had sidelined him since the third quarter of UCLA’s loss to Arizona on Sept. 28. He calmly led the Bruins to touchdowns on each of their first two drives, the first time they had done that this season.

Thompson-Robinson connected with receiver Kyle Philips on both touchdown passes, the first going for 19 yards and the second for three. Remarkably, UCLA’s resulting 14-3 lead marked the first time this season the Bruins had led by more than seven points in a game.

Thompson-Robinson gave his team all the points it would need in the second quarter when he cut outside for a one-yard touchdown run. He had earlier flashed his speed on a 39-yard run down the sideline, the sort of play he previously discussed with coach Chip Kelly.

“If they’re going to be in man-match coverage and turn their back to you,” Kelly said, “then you’ve got to make them pay with your legs and I think that’s something he can do.”

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Besides a pass that he floated into coverage for an interception late in the first half, Thompson-Robinson played one of his best games. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 192 yards and ran for 66 yards, including the yardage he lost on three sacks.

It wasn’t a performance that surprised his coach.

“I have all the confidence in the world in him,” Kelly said, “and I was really excited because he played really well against Washington State and I thought he played well against Arizona until he got hurt.”

RAMS

It remains to be seen whether new Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey will play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, but all signs point to star running back Todd Gurley returning to the lineup.

A left thigh bruise forced Gurley to sit out last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a defeat that extended the Rams’ losing streak to three games. After being limited during practices early this week, he was listed as a full participant Friday.

“We’re optimistic that he’s going to be able to go,” coach Sean McVay said afterward.

CHARGERS

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After three wildly productive games to start the season, receiver Keenan Allen has faded dramatically over the next three as the Chargers have struggled to get him the ball.

He totaled 11 catches for 99 yards in a win over Miami and consecutive losses to Denver and Pittsburgh.

Twelve NFL players had more receiving yards last week alone, the group including one of Allen’s teammates, tight end Hunter Henry.

Even more telling, after setting an absurd pace for targets — 42 in three games — Allen has been targeted just 17 times in the three games since.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn credited the opposition, saying defenses have schematically committed to stopping Allen, particularly with the way he began the year.

“Keenan, he will get his touches,” Lynn promised. “When it’s all said and done, he will get his touches.”

USC FOOTBALL

Breaking down the on-field matchups for USC (3-3, 2-1) and Arizona (4-2, 2-1) for the game Saturday at the Coliseum at 6:30 p.m. (TV: Pac-12 Networks, Radio: 790)

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Marquee matchup

USC defensive front vs. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate. There may not be a more dangerous player remaining on USC’s schedule this season. Tate has always been a threat to run, but in his third season as Arizona’s quarterback, he and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone finally seem on the same page in the passing game, too. The Wildcats are 17th in the nation and second in the Pac-12 in passing offense. But it’s his scrambling that should still concern USC most. Running quarterbacks have had their way with the Trojans this season, and Tate is perhaps the best of them all.

Read the rest of the matchups by clicking here.

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In other USC news, less than a year after they were controversially shut out from home basketball games for the first time in half a century, USC’s Song Girls will once again be welcome at the Galen Center this season.

The Song Girls will make their official return Friday night at USC’s charity exhibition against Villanova, a school spokesperson confirmed. From then on, the tradition-steeped, 12-woman spirit group will again be a fixture at men’s and women’s basketball games.

The decision by former athletic director Lynn Swann to remove the Song Girls from the sideline last season was met with an immediate outcry from many who felt Swann and USC’s athletic department offered little explanation in nixing one of the university’s long-standing athletics traditions.

USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

All times Pacific. Radio: 790 KABC

USC 31, Fresno State 23

USC 45, Stanford 20

at BYU 30, USC 27 (OT)

at USC 30, Utah 23

at Washington 28, USC 14

at Notre Dame 30, USC 27

Today vs. Arizona, 6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Oct. 25 at Colorado, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Nov. 2 vs. Oregon, TBD

Nov. 9 at Arizona State, TBD

Nov. 16 at California, TBD

Nov. 23 vs. UCLA, TBD

CLIPPERS

Whereas a lingering leg injury led Kawhi Leonard to begin last season with the Raptors under a strict plan to lighten his regular-season workload, he reiterated Thursday, following a 102-87 loss to Dallas that wrapped the Clippers’ preseason schedule, that the management of his health “this year will be a lot different.”

After taking longer than usual to recuperate this summer following a title run in June with the Raptors, Leonard began full-contact scrimmages two weeks ago. The rest led to rust, by his own admission. But after playing 33 minutes in two preseason games, Leonard feels prepared, “for the most part,” for Tuesday’s season opener against the Lakers.

“We’ve still got 82 games and I’ll find a rhythm going into there, as well, if I’m not happy with it,” Leonard said.

His attitude at preseason’s end is emblematic of his team’s.

The Clippers call themselves prepared for the season, but with dreams of playing in June, they believe they can build their rhythm as they go.

HORSE RACING

Jerry Hollendorfer had another setback in his attempt to get back into racing when the Breeders’ Cup announced Friday it is honoring Santa Anita’s ban on the trainer.

Fred Hertrich, chairman of the board of the Breeders’ Cup, announced the decision saying, “we will honor [Santa Anita’s] house rule and Jerry Hollendorfer will not be permitted to enter horses at this year’s event.”

Hollendorfer was banned from the Stronach Group tracks, which includes Santa Anita, this year’s Breeders’ Cup site on Nov. 1-2, after four of his horses died at the Arcadia track. Two other horses died at Golden Gate, also owned by TSG.

“The news is disappointing and emotionally devastating,” said Drew Couto, Hollendorfer’s attorney. “But Jerry has a very strong character and he’s looking forward to training at Del Mar and Los Alamitos. So many out-of-state circuits want him but he’s just got to figure everything out.”

DUCKS

The Ducks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, behind Ryan Miller’s 22 saves and points from more than half their lineup, they improved to 6-2-0 overall and remained perfect on home ice (4-0-0). Few seasons in the Ducks’ franchise history have begun so auspiciously. Fewer still have been as unanticipated.

KINGS

The Kings assigned defenseman Tobias Bjornfot and forward Carl Grundstrom to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Ontario Reign, and recalled center Nikolai Prokhorkin, shuffling their roster for the first time this season amid a 2-5-0 start.

“Both of them didn’t get to play very much here,” McLellan said of Bjornfot and Grundstrom. “They need playing time; they need an opportunity to be go-to players on a team right now.”

BASEBALL

ALCS schedule

All times Pacific. All games on FS1

Game 1: New York 7, at Houston 0

Game 2: at Houston 3, New York 2 (11)

Game 3: Houston 4, at New York 1

Game 4: Houston 8, at New York 3

Game 5: at New York 4, Houston 1 (Read game story here)

Game 6: Today, New York at Houston, 5 p.m.

Game 7*: Sunday, New York at Houston, 4:30 p.m.

*-if necessary

World Series schedule

All times Pacific. All games on Fox.

Game 1: Tuesday, Washington at New York or Houston, TBD

Game 2: Wednesday, Washington at New York or Houston, TBD

Game 3: Friday, New York or Houston at Washington, TBD

Game 4: Oct. 26, New York or Houston at Washington, TBD

Game 5*: Oct. 27, New York or Houston at Washington, TBD

Game 6*: Oct. 29, Washington at New York or Houston, TBD

Game 7*: Oct. 30, Washington at New York or Houston, TBD

*-if necessary

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Calgary at Kings, 7 p.m., FSW

BORN ON THIS DATE

1876: Baseball player Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown (d. 1948)

1949: Football player Lynn Dickey

1954: Basketball player Joe Bryant

1961: Former Dodger and Angel Tim Belcher

1962: Boxer Evander Holyfield

1964: Football player Webster Slaughter

1965: Basketball player Brad Daugherty

AND FINALLY

Evander Holyfield gets part of his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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