The #5 Oklahoma Sooners will head on the road to take on the UCLA Bruins in an inter-conference clash Saturday night from the Rose Bowl. The Sooners piled on the points in a dominating 70-14 win against South Dakota of the FCS last week to improve to 2-0. Former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts is off to a stellar start with the Sooners, compiling six passing touchdowns accompanied with three rushing touchdowns. Despite starting 2-0, the Sooners dropped one spot to #5 in the country in the AP Top 25 Rankings.
The Bruins are in desperate need of a win after opening their season with two straight defeats. They lost to Cincinnati in their season opener, followed by a disappointing 23-14 loss to San Diego State of the MWC in their home opener last week. Head coach Chip Kelly is 0-5 in his five games against non-conference opponents since joining UCLA last season. These schools met in September of last season in a game Oklahoma won 49-21 on their home field.
Jalen Hurts Leads Sooners to Dominating Start
The #5 Oklahoma Sooners have made easy work of their two opponents this season, winning 39-21 against Houston and 70-14 against South Dakota who are in the FCS circuit. Sooners QB Jalen Hurts is red-hot, accumulating 591 passing yards with a dazzling 6:0 TD to INT ratio paired with 223 rushing yards. Hurts spend the last three seasons with Alabama, and the senior QB is going to have no problem filling the void left by Kyler Murray who went 1st overall in the NFL draft.
The Sooners have spread the ball around on the ground with Trey Sermon leading all Sooner RB’s with 147 rushing yards after amassing 947 yards in 2018. Ceedee Lamb has struck immediate chemistry with Jalen Hurts, bringing in 190 receiving yards in two games. The UCLA pass defense has been awful, so I expect another big game from the junior wideout who tallied 146 receiving yards in the meeting against UCLA last season.
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) September 8, 2019
The Sooners offense is a powerhouse with no flaws. Hurts is experienced, they have a deep backfield and a talented receiving core. They rank ninth in the FBS in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards.
“They’ve played well. They can play better,” Riley said. “We’ve done good in coverage, I’d say that’s been the highlight of the secondary so far… We’ve got to continue to tackle well in space. There’s been a few places each game that showed up. As the competition continues to get better each week, including this week, we have to clean that up.”
The Oklahoma defense was an area of weakness last season, and they will give up points again this year. They squandered 31 points to Houston of the AAC in week one, and it will be interesting to see how they perform against a struggling Bruins offense. The Sooners are averaging 59.5 points through two games, and they have allowed an average of 22.5 points.
UCLA Upset by San Diego State, Drop to 0-2
The UCLA Bruins’ 2019 season could not have started worse. They opened with a 24-14 road loss to Cincinnati, and they were upset 23-14 on their home field last week in a game that had UCLA labeled as 7.5 point favorites. Chip Kelly has a lot of work to do to get this program back to their winning ways after going 3-9 last year. Bruins’ QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson was better last week although overall he has not looked great. The sophomore QB has only tallied 355 passing yards with a 3:2 TD to INT ratio in two games.
The Bruins have struggled on the ground as well, averaging only 62 rushing yards in two games. RB Joshua Kelly rushed for 53 yards in season debut last week after missing week one due to injury. The senior RB is expected to have a big season after registering a terrific 1243 rushing yards in 2018.
“When it’s Oklahoma coming in, I don’t care if they’re ranked five, 15 or 25 – it’s Oklahoma, so our kids are really excited,” said coach Chip Kelly. “Our guys had a great experience when they went to Oklahoma last year because it was a great venue to play in, a great team (and) they got to play against a Heisman trophy winner.”
-UCLA HC Chip Kelly on facing the powerhouse Sooners.
Demetric Felton has been a bright spot, collecting 127 receiving yards and 99 rushing yards in two games, and he should be targeted several times again in this contest. Theo Howard is expected to be back in action after missing the first two games. Howard tallied 677 receiving yards in 2018. The Bruins offense needs to come through with a response this week after a dismal display in their first two games.
Let's get this going!
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) September 7, 2019
The UCLA defense has looked much better than their offense through two games, and they will need another strong defensive effort if they want to keep this one close. The Bruins limited SDSU to only 80 rushing yards on 47 carries last week, but they face a tough task against Trey Sermon. UCLA has averaged 14 points in two games, and they have conceded an average of 23.5 points.
“You like the challenge of anybody you play,” said Kelly. “I think, again, you try to put perspective on things. I don’t care who it is. There is not one team we can look forward to, there is not one team we can look past. We’re not in that boat, and it wasn’t that way either when I was on teams that were really successful that were ranked No. 1 and 2 in the country. We took everybody very, very seriously. The cool part about college football is you get to play one game a week, so why would you think about anything else?”
The Oklahoma Sooners are:
- 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight-up win.
- 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
The UCLA Bruins are:
- 5-15-1 ATS in their last 21 non-conference games.
- 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 home games.
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after collecting less than 275 total yards in their previous game.