What to watch for when UCLA plays Arizona. Will Zach Charbonnet play?

UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet (24) escapes tackle attempts by Stanford's Kendall Williamson and Levani Damuni.
UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet escapes tackle attempts by Stanford safety Kendall Williamson (21) and linebacker Levani Damuni (3) on Oct. 29 at the Rose Bowl.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

In the surest sign of UCLA’s arrival under Chip Kelly, the team’s fans have gone from scanning the schedule for possible wins to probable ones.

Saturday qualifies as the latter.

Arizona is on the rise under second-year coach Jedd Fisch and might be good some day, but that time is not now. The Wildcats’ mix of elite passing offense and dreadful defense has resulted in a four-game losing streak that essentially eliminated them from bowl contention.

To be fair, those losses came to a murderer’s row of Oregon, Washington, USC and Utah — and Arizona was competitive against the Huskies and Trojans. No. 9 UCLA (8-1 overall, 5-1 Pac-12) will be the fourth team ranked No. 12 or higher in the Associated Press rankings that the Wildcats (3-6, 1-5) will have faced in their last five games, making them the first Pac-12 team to complete such a brutal stretch since Washington in 2012.


Here are five things to watch when the 19½-point favorite Bruins face the Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. at the Rose Bowl:

UCLA looks to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive as the betting favorite against Arizona on Saturday. Here’s where the smart money is on the game.

Nov. 11, 2022


Just like old times?

UCLA is 8-1 for the first time since 2005. That season, Arizona stunned the 8-0 Bruins in Tucson to deliver their first loss, a 52-14 shellacking that led to a “UCLA Ruins” headline in The Times.

Beating UCLA on Saturday would be even more stunning given that the game is in Pasadena and the Wildcats have allowed at least 45 points and more than 450 yards of offense in each of their last four games, including three games of giving up at least 580 yards.

A UCLA victory would give the Bruins nine wins in a season for the first time under Kelly while nudging his overall record at the school (26-26) over .500 for the first time.


Harvard transfer and defensive lineman Jacob Sykes came to UCLA looking for a new system at a higher level and has bolstered the Bruins’ interior defense.

Nov. 11, 2022


Roll call

There will be extra reason to watch warmups.

Running back Zach Charbonnet’s status remains unknown after he sat out the Bruins’ victory over Arizona State last weekend with an unspecified injury. Defensive coordinator Bill McGovern has missed the last two games with an undisclosed illness.

Charbonnet practiced this week, but the team has not elaborated on his availability. McGovern attended practices as well, but it was not clear whether he was expected to be in the press box at the Rose Bowl.

Fortunately for the Bruins, their running game should pile up yards no matter who is carrying the ball. Arizona’s run defense is ranked No. 125 nationally, allowing 218.7 yards per game on the ground, including three games of 300 or more yards.


Slinging it

Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura passes against Utah on Nov. 5 in Salt Lake City.
Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura passes against Utah on Nov. 5 in Salt Lake City.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)


On the other hand, Arizona also can move the ball — albeit through the air.

Quarterback Jayden de Laura, a transfer from Washington State, leads a passing attack that ranks No. 7 nationally with 328 yards per game.

“He’s a gunslinger, I think he’s got a lot of toughness to him,” Kelly said. “He’s gonna run around, he’s gonna keep plays alive, he’s not afraid of throwing the ball up there. And they’ve got some receivers that will go get it, so it’s really their passing attack that gets the most of your attention.”

Arizona has three of the top 10 receivers in yardage in the Pac-12 in Jacob Cowing, Dorian Singer and Tetairoa McMillan. The Wildcats are on pace for their best single-season passing yards per game since they averaged 370.8 in 2011.


Staying on track

UCLA needs a win to keep pace with USC heading into their highly anticipated showdown next weekend at the Rose Bowl.

Assuming Oregon wins the rest of its conference games, the Ducks would face the winner of the game between the Bruins and Trojans for the Pac-12 title on Dec. 2 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.


At No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, UCLA also will root for upsets this weekend that could vault it into contention for a spot among the final four teams.

The path still remains clear for both USC and UCLA for the College Football Playoff as the committee ranked them Nos. 8 and 12 this week.

Nov. 8, 2022


Not in our house

The Bruins have won their last five meetings with Arizona at the Rose Bowl. The Wildcats’ last win in Pasadena came in 2010.