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Three things you need to know ahead of UCLA’s opener against Hawaii

Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro looks for a receiver.
Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro looks for a receiver during the first half against UNLV on Dec. 12, 2020, in Honolulu.
(Marco Garcia / Associated Press)

UCLA (0-0) vs. Hawaii (0-0)

Location: Rose Bowl.

Time: 12:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Weather forecast: 95 degrees, sunny.

Latest line: UCLA by 18 points.

About UCLA: The Bruins hope to trumpet their best season under Chip Kelly — and ensure his survival as their coach — by winning an opening game for the first time since his arrival before the 2018 season. Kelly is also seeking his first nonconference win at the school after starting 0-6, including 0-4 against Group of Five opponents. A veteran roster that includes 20 returning starters, including senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, could help its coach secure the breakthrough.

About Hawaii: Unless they have drastically resolved the protection issues and inability to stop the run that plagued them in 2020, the Rainbow Warriors appear to be an ideal matchup for the Bruins. Hawaii gave up 3.1 sacks and 211.7 rushing yards per game last season, categories in which UCLA thrived while generating 3.29 sacks and 230.6 rushing yards per game.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly will need to focus on what lies ahead rather than the past in his now-or-never season.

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Three things you need to know:

1. Thompson-Robinson has evolved into one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks but has struggled as the starter in season openers. He had four turnovers in a loss to Cincinnati in the 2019 opener and two turnovers in a loss to Colorado in the 2020 opener.

2. Kelly has faced Hawaii coach Todd Graham once before, in 2012, when Kelly was at Oregon and Graham at Arizona State. It didn’t go well for Graham. Oregon rolled up 43 points by halftime on the way to a 43-21 drubbing during Kelly’s final season in Eugene before heading for the NFL.

3. This will be a reunion of sorts for UCLA receiver Matt Sykes. He graduated from Saint Louis School in Honolulu, which also produced Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and a few other Rainbow Warriors.

UCLA dominated every phase of the game, overpowering Hawaii to kick off the 2021 season at the Rose Bowl.


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