UCLA (2-6, 2-3) at Oregon (5-3, 2-3)
Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore. TV: Fox. Radio: 570, 1150, 97.3.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert vs. the UCLA pass defense. Herbert returned to practice midweek after being in concussion protocol, putting him on track to start against the Bruins barring a setback. His presence would significantly tilt things in the Ducks’ favor considering Herbert is one of the nation’s most dynamic quarterbacks and has thrown a touchdown pass in 23 consecutive games, the longest streak in the nation. Oregon is also averaging 46.1 points per game during Herbert’s 13 career starts at Autzen Stadium. He’ll face a UCLA secondary that has been the strength of its defense, allowing 221.8 yards per game to rank sixth in the Pac-12 Conference.
UCLA (346.1 ypg/21.3 ppg): Tailback Joshua Kelley has averaged 5.8 yards per carry over the last five games, easing the burden on quarterbacks Wilton Speight and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. It remained unclear which quarterback would start against the Ducks with Thompson-Robinson still recovering from an injury to his shoulder area suffered two weeks ago.
Oregon (436.9 ypg/36.6 ppg): Herbert could be without his favorite target in receiver Dillon Mitchell, who remained sidelined in practice this week because of a concussion suffered against Arizona. Mitchell’s absence would be a big loss for the Ducks because his 579 receiving yards in Pac-12 play have led the conference. Tailback J.C. Verdell ranks seventh among freshmen nationally and ninth overall in the Pac-12 with 75 yards rushing per game.
UCLA (431 ypg/32.5 ppg): The most galling number for a run defense that sprinted backward the last two weeks was the team’s 42 missed tackles. They have turned short gains into explosive plays while having a deflating effect on the Bruins, who gave up 289 rushing yards against Arizona and 325 rushing yards against Utah.
Oregon (379.5 ypg/28.4 ppg): Ugochukwu Amadi, Jevon Holland and Deommodore Lenoir give the Ducks three players with three or more interceptions, something they haven’t had since Chip Kelly was their coach in 2013. Linebacker Justin Hollins has five sacks over his last nine games going back to last season, more than the 4½ sacks he compiled over the first 38 games of his career.
Kelly was irritated by special teams penalties committed against Utah, including an infraction for running into a punt returner and a false start that turned a 47-yard field goal attempt into a 52-yarder … which fell a few yards short of the crossbar. The Bruins also generated little in their return game; all 11 of their possessions started at or inside their 25-yard line.
Turnovers have been telling for the Bruins. They’re plus-seven in turnovers in their wins and minus-three in their losses. The 14 turnovers the Bruins have generated this season already exceed their total from 2017. … UCLA has lost its last four games at Autzen Stadium, last winning in 2004.