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UCLA rumbles for 38-27 win over No. 16 LSU, giving Chip Kelly a signature victory

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UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet breaks free for a long gain against LSU
UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet breaks free for a long gain against LSU in the second quarter in the Rose Bowl Saturday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA coach Chip Kelly and the Bruins are pushing for a statement win over LSU coach Ed Orgeron and the Tigers tonight at the Rose Bowl.

Embattled UCLA coach Chip Kelly can savor the biggest win of his tenure.

Kelly’s Bruins rumbled to a 38-27 win over No. 16 LSU Saturday night in the Rose Bowl, controlling the second half on both sides of the ball and delivering the coach’s biggest victory of his UCLA tenure.

The Bruins are now 2-0 and have vaulted into the national spotlight as a serious Pac-12 title contender.

UCLA gives coach Chip Kelly a signature win with upset of No. 16 LSU

Highlights from UCLA’s win over LSU on Saturday.

The bamboo sprouted on a sweltering September evening at the Rose Bowl, after so much waiting, so many doubts.

It was the realization of one of Chip Kelly’s favorite motivational mantras involving the giant timber bamboo. If you water the bamboo in the first year, nothing happens. If you water it in the second year, nothing happens. If you water it in the third year, nothing happens. If you water it in the fourth year, it grows 90 feet in six weeks.

In Kelly’s fourth year at UCLA, after a whole lot of nothing, the bamboo was visible throughout the Bruins’ 38-27 victory over No. 16 Louisiana State.

It could be seen in the playmaking of tight end Greg Dulcich, whose fancy footwork led to one touchdown after he juked a defender and nearly another when he converted a crucial third down and was stopped just short of the end zone.

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Photos: UCLA upsets LSU at the Rose Bowl

Here are some of the best photos from UCLA’s win over LSU on Saturday at the Rose Bowl:

UCLA  prepares to take the field for a game against LSU.
UCLA prepares to take the field against LSU at the Rose Bowl Saturday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet runs untouched into the end zone.
UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet runs untouched into the end zone for a touchdown against LSU in the second quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
 UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich breaks free for a touchdown.
UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich breaks free for a touchdown after a catch and run against LSU in the second quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich (85) is congratulated by Duke Clemens in second quarter.
UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich (85) is congratulated by teammate Duke Clemens after catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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Hope has arrived: All aboard the Bruins bandwagon

UCLA players leave the field at the Rose Bowl after beating LSU 38-27 on Saturday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The bandwagon is barreling now.

You’ll need to sprint to catch it. You’ll need to shove to board it.

The UCLA football bandwagon, revved up in this space last week, furiously eight-clapped its way across the grass-stained backs of college football royalty at a roaring Rose Bowl Saturday and is now churning up wondrous clouds of legitimate hope.

These Bruins are honest-to-goodness good. These Bruins are for-real real.

UCLA locked helmets with the mighty 2019 national champion LSU Tigers from the fabled Southeastern Conference Saturday and an amazing thing happened.

The Bruins didn’t flinch. The Bruins didn’t fade. The Bruins were tougher. The Bruins were faster. The Bruins were better.

Yeah, did you hear that over there in SEC land? The Bruins were better. They were way better.

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UCLA fends off LSU rally and runs out clock

UCLA shut down LSU’s faint push for a comeback, taking care of the football and running out the clock to seal a 38-27 win over No. 16 LSU.

UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond celebrated on the field with the Bruins after the big victory.

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LSU counters with a late touchdown

The LSU Tigers haven’t given up yet.

The Tigers mounted a seven-play, 73-yard scoring drive that spanned 2:23.

Max Johnson capped the drive by hitting Kayshon Boutte for a 45-yard touchdown pass. Cade York hit the extra point to trim UCLA’s lead to 38-27 with 4:08 left in the game.

UCLA still has some work to do to hold off a late LSU rally.

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Kyle Philips delivers dagger with 45-yard touchdown

It looked like all Kyle Philips wanted to do was stay in bounds, but he did one better by scrambling into the end zone after tip-toeing the sideline and spinning past defenders to put UCLA up 38-20 with 6:31 to go in the fourth.

Philips’ 45-yard touchdown catch from Dorian Thompson-Robinson has LSU fans in shock as the Bruins inch closer to a much-needed marquee victory.

Thompson-Robinson has 260 passing yards and three touchdowns on nine-of-16 passing.

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UCLA bleeding clock with 11-point lead

After taking an 11-point lead, UCLA has run the ball six straight times and a drive that started with 11:05 on the clock has now chewed up nearly three minutes and counting.

The Bruins are driving with first down at the LSU 43-yard line. Brittain Brown has rushed for 33 yards on the drive and has 78 on 14 carries for the game.

UCLA leads 31-20 with 7:30 to go in the game.

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Greg Dulcich, Zach Charbonnet coming up big

UCLA is up 31-20 with 12:28 to go after a one-yard touchdown run from Brittain Brown.

The scoring play was set up by a huge third-down conversion during which Dorian Thompson-Robinson hit Greg Dulcich for 19 yards on third-and-14. Dulcich made it to the one-yard line and Brown did the rest for his first score of the night.

Zach Charbonnet passed 100 rushing yards for the night during the scoring drive, which included a 43-yard rush from the Michigan transfer. Charbonnet has 119 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown.

Dulcich has 117 receiving yards and one touchdown on three catches.

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UCLA defense forces another field goal entering fourth quarter

LSU marched into the red zone, but UCLA stood firm and held the Tigers to a 33-yard field goal. The Bruins lead 24-20 going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers are starting to gain some momentum on the ground and now have 51 rushing yards on 23 carries compared to just three yards on 12 carries in the first half. But quarterback Max Johnson is struggling under intense pressure from the Bruins defense and even tried a daring behind-the-back, no-look pass on third down when UCLA defenders were in his face. The pass fell incomplete.

Johnson is 21-of-38 passing for 249 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson has 196 yards and two touchdowns on seven-of-13 passing. He also has one interception.

Zach Charbonnet has a team-high 75 rushing yards and one touchdown.

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Nicholas Barr-Mira’s field goal extends UCLA lead

Nicholas Barr-Mira kicked a 43-yard field goal to put the Bruins up 24-17 with 6:38 to go in the third quarter.

The Bruins used the scoring drive to answer an LSU touchdown. UCLA got big plays on the drive from Brittain Brown, who rushed for 19 yards on the first play, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who found Greg Dulcich for a 23-yard pass.

Thompson-Robinson is seven-of-13 passing with 196 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Bruins are relying on their rushing attack (26 carries, 85 yards) but are making the most of their opportunities in the passing game, averaging 15.1 passing yards per attempt.

Dulcich leads the Bruins with 98 receiving yards on two catches.

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LSU scores with an assist from referee

A short pass over the middle turned into a 44-yard LSU touchdown after UCLA defensive back Jay Shaw ran into the referee, allowing LSU’s Kayshon Boutte to run untouched into the end zone.

UCLA is now leading 21-17 with 8:56 to go in the third.

Boutte has 65 receiving yards on four catches and both of LSU’s touchdowns.

LSU quarterback Max Johnson is 17-for-31 passing with 210 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

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UCLA cashes in on turnover to extend lead

UCLA turned Caleb Johnson’s interception into a 17-yard touchdown pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Chase Cota to take a 21-10 lead with 10:52 to go in the third quarter.

Thompson-Robinson has now passed Cory Paus for sixth on UCLA’s career touchdown passes list after his second score of the night.

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Caleb Johnson’s interception has UCLA in red zone to start third quarter

UCLA linebacker Caleb Johnson picked off LSU quarterback Max Johnson on the opening possession of the third quarter and returned the pick 34 yards to the LSU 17-yard line.

It’s the second turnover of the game with each quarterback turning it over once.

The Bruins still lead 14-10.

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UCLA leads at halftime

UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich (85) is congratulated by teammate Duke Clemens (62) after soring
UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich (85) is congratulated by teammate Duke Clemens (62) after soring a touchdown against LSU in the second quarter at the Rose Bowl Saturday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

After a scoreless first quarter, UCLA came on strong in the second to take a 14-10 lead at halftime.

UCLA scored on a touchdown rush from Zach Charbonnet, who has 70 yards on seven carries, and a 75-yard touchdown pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Greg Dulcich. Thompson-Robinson has delivered some big passes, including a 36-yard toss to Kazmeir Allen and a 35-yard pass to Charbonnet, but also has one interception.

The Bruin defense is bottling up the LSU rushing attack, allowing just three yards on 12 carries.

LSU quarterback Max Johnson is 14-of-27 passing for 138 yards and one touchdown pass. Johnson has missed several throws and his receivers aren’t helping the sophomore much after a few drops.

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Bruins hold LSU to field goal after interception

The Tigers turned a Dorian Thompson-Robinson turnover into three points and now trail 14-10 with 3:53 remaining in the second quarter.

Qwuantrezz Knight was called for pass interference that gave the Tigers first down at the seven-yard line, but the struggling UCLA secondary buckled down for three straight incomplete passes to force the 26-yard field goal.

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Turnover from Dorian Thompson-Robinson gives LSU life

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson looks for a receiver
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson looks for a receiver against LSU on Saturday in Pasadena.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s pass to Kyle Philips was picked off by LSU’s Eli Ricks, who put the Tigers in business at the UCLA 33-yard line.

After a slow start, Thompson-Robinson was heating up in the second quarter and is now five-of-nine passing with 159 yards, one touchdown and one interception. This is his first interception of the 2021 season.

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UCLA avoids LSU field goal after false start

A 50-plus yard field goal looked good for LSU, but was negated by a false start that forced the Tigers to punt. Instead of inching within four, LSU settled for a punt that pinned the Bruins at the four-yard line.

UCLA leads 14-7 with 7:07 to go in the second quarter.

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UCLA takes the lead behind Zach Charbonnet

Hello again, Zach Charbonnet.

The running back who scored three touchdowns on six carries last week got his first score of the night against LSU with a 12-yard touchdown run to put the Bruins up 14-7 with 9:49 to go in the second quarter.

Charbonnet also had a 20-yard rush on the drive and caught a 35-yard pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson during the drive. A key block from receiver Kyle Philips helped Charbonnet gain extra yardage on the catch-and-run.

The Michigan transfer now has 41 rushing yards and 35 receiving yards.

Thompson-Robinson is four-of-seven passing with 150 yards and one touchdown.

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Greg Dulcich scores for UCLA to tie it up

Well, that didn’t take long.

After LSU opened the scoring, UCLA tied the game up one offensive play later with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Greg Dulcich, who made several defenders miss while charging down the field for UCLA’s first score.

Thompson-Robinson moved ahead of Troy Aikman into seventh place on the school’s all-time passing yardage list with the play.

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LSU opens the scoring with passing touchdown

The stalemate is broken after LSU scored on a one-yard touchdown pass with 12:34 remaining in the second quarter.

The Tigers lead 7-0 after an eight-play, 63-yard drive that was assisted by a face mask penalty on Mo Osling III. The 15-yard penalty combined with an 18-yard pass to put the Tigers on the UCLA 18-yard line.

UCLA stopped LSU on second-and-goal from the two-yard line with a tackle for loss from Qwuantrezz Knight, but scored a play later with a three-yard pass to Kayshon Boutte.

The Tigers are attacking a fragile UCLA secondary that was among the worst in the country last year. LSU quarterback Max Johnson is nine-of-13 passing for 96 yards and one touchdown.

UCLA is limiting LSU to two rushing yards on 10 carries.

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First quarter is a punt party

UCLA and LSU are scoreless after the first quarter as both teams have combined for five punts on as many drives.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is one-of-two passing with 36 passing yards and minus-14 rushing yards on four carries.

Brittain Brown leads the Bruins on the ground with 15 rushing yards on four carries. Zach Charbonnet, the star from last week’s win over Hawaii, has just two carries for nine yards

Mitchell Agude has three tackles for the UCLA defense.

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Bo Calvert’s third-down sack punctuates big defensive stop for UCLA

Linebacker Bo Calvert broke through the LSU offensive line untouched for a 10-yard sack on Max Johnson, forcing a punt from the Tigers. The Bruins received the punt at the 18-yard line, but have to back up to the nine after an unnecessary roughness penalty called on Ethan Fernea.

The Tigers were driving before Calvert’s big stop and had converted on third down twice already.

LSU is outgaining UCLA 50-36 after two drives from each team.

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UCLA settles for punt on first drive after Dorian Thompson-Robinson sacked

The Bruins quieted a loud LSU crowd with a 36-yard pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to Kazmeir Allen on the opening possession, but the Tigers fired back with a third-down sack that knocked UCLA out of field goal range. UCLA had to settle for a punt on its first drive after reaching the LSU 39-yard line.

Allen, a converted running back, played a big role on the first drive, adding two carries for five yards. The speedy redshirt junior is a versatile threat that the Bruins need to content against an athletic LSU defense.

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UCLA receives opening kick

LSU won the coin toss and deferred. UCLA’s Kazmeir Allen took the opening kickoff to the UCLA 26-yard line after receiving it at the one.

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LSU fans making their presence felt

As LSU players left the field after warm-ups, the large contingent of traveling fans filled the Rose Bowl with a loud “L-S-U” chant with about 18 minutes left before kickoff.

LSU fans have a solid presence in the south end zone and large patches of purple are sprinkled throughout other sections in the Rose Bowl. It looks like LSU fans could end up accounting for close to half of the audience.

Hoping to boost attendance after a disappointing crowd against Hawaii, UCLA did almost everything besides hand out free tickets door-to-door for Saturday’s pivotal game. UCLA students, high school students in Southern California, youth football and other youth sports teams as well as active military members and veterans were eligible for complimentary tickets to Saturday’s game.

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Pre-game predictions from the Rose Bowl press box

Is this a must-win game for UCLA?

In need of a marquee victory in the fourth year of the Chip Kelly era, UCLA (1-0) hosts No. 16 Louisiana State (0-0) at the Rose Bowl and UCLA reporter Ben Bolch, columnist Bill Plaschke and reporter Thuc Nhi Nguyen met in the press box before the game to discuss what a win would mean for the Bruins, the keys to the game and their predictions.

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Plaschke: UCLA once ran Ed Orgeron out of town, but he’s back with LSU: ‘I’m so damn excited’

LSU coach Ed Orgeron shouts instructions to players on the field
LSU coach Ed Orgeron is excited about facing UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

One of the most beloved college football coaches in this city’s history will lead a team from across the country onto the Rose Bowl field Saturday afternoon with emotions as thick as that voice.

UCLA once handed Ed Orgeron the worst loss of his life.

At the same time, UCLA also led him to the greatest moment of his career.

On his first public return to Los Angeles since a 2013 loss to the Bruins both booted him out of his USC job while sending him home to greatness at Louisiana State, the national championship coach of the Tigers is not going to know whether to laugh or cry.

Knowing Coach O, he’ll probably do both.

“I’m so damn excited,” he said in a phone interview this week. “It is kind of surreal.”

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UCLA vs. LSU: Historic first meeting has huge ramifications

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight celebrate a win
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight celebrate a 44-10 win against Hawaii at the Rose Bowl on Aug. 28.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

Oh, it’s big.

Add in all the qualifiers, parse it any way you want, there’s going to be a momentous game involving UCLA on Saturday evening at the Rose Bowl.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson said.

It’s UCLA versus No. 16 Louisiana State in the first meeting between the universities and what the Bruins hope is the start of restoring the sort of buzz around the program last felt during the Obama presidency.

Routing Hawaii in the season opener was a great start, but it doesn’t come with the Cajun cachet that would accompany toppling the Tigers only 1½ years after they won the national championship.

Even UCLA coach Chip Kelly, who calls every game the Super Bowl, recognized this one’s significance.

“It’s a huge game,” Kelly said. “You get an opportunity to see a really, really good football team in LSU and obviously I think we’re off to a good start, so it should be a great game.”

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