Kirk Herbstreit and Matt Leinart predict UCLA will surprise with breakout season

UCLA defensive lineman Datona Jackson returns an interception during the first quarter.
UCLA defensive lineman Datona Jackson returns an interception during the first quarter of the Bruins’ win over Hawaii on Saturday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Kirk Herbstreit and Matt Leinart have hopped on the UCLA football bandwagon.

Yes, that Matt Leinart, who won a Heisman Trophy while leading crosstown rival USC’s offense.

Before the Bruins pummeled Hawaii 44-10 Saturday at the Rose Bowl, Herbstreit predicted a breakthrough season for the program under embattled coach Chip Kelly.


“I’m going to make a prediction right now for UCLA,” Herbstreit said during ESPN’s College GameDay. “Fourth year for Chip Kelly, 20 starters coming back. You mentioned the quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, as a guy whose making his 25th start, has got experience.

“This is a team that lost all four of their losses by six points or less [last season].

“UCLA is going to become a story this year and this quarterback is going become to a story. UCLA is going to be a surprise team. Everyone is going to go from questioning Chip Kelly to saying, ‘There’s Chip Kelly.‘”

Here are some of the best photos of UCLA football’s 44-10 win over Hawaii from veteran Times photographer Luis Sinco.

Aug. 28, 2021

Fellow analyst Desmond Howard responded, “I was about to ask you, a good story or a bad story?”

Herbstreit replied, “... In September, ‘Who would have thought, UCLA?’ I’m going to tell you, look out for UCLA.”

Herbstreit shared a clip of his prediction on Twitter after UCLA’s win Saturday and Leinart endorsed the call.


“Agree,” Leinart posted. “Sneaky and seems like it’s time for them to make a splash!”