Chip Kelly divides opinion. Mike Leach is a god and can do no wrong. The clash between UCLA and Washington State was always going to be fascinating and exciting in equal doses.
Spoiler alert : if you are one of those folk who loves defence and cites “defence wins championships” look away now.
Picture the scene
Picture the scene. Your team is 32 points ahead mid-way through the third quarter, and by the end of the game your quarterback has thrown for over 500 yards and nine touchdowns. It’s fair for say the game is in the bag.
Not so fast my friend. The mercurial Chip Kelly is on the other sideline and has a glint in his eye.
But lets step back a little. Much maligned on these pages (and elsewhere I may add), Chip Kelly is, was, a coach under pressure. Chip may argue the College gods have thrown him a too difficult schedule. Although he may want to look across the city of Angels to see what a tough schedule looks like. But his argument that he has one of the youngest teams in the country stands up.
UCLA has had a tough start to the year. Going in to the game in Pullman against Wazzu State, the Bruins were 0-3, having fallen to Cincinnati, San Diego State, and Oklahoma.
So by the third quarter, in Pullman against the offensive genius that is Mike Leach and his Cougars, a familiar story was unfolding. The scoreboard read UCLA 7 Washington State 49. A 32 point canyon stared Kelly and his Bruins right in the face mask.
But then a Cinderella story started to reveal itself. UCLA led by true freshman quarterback Dorian-Thompson-Robinson, scored 50 points. Yes folks, 50 points in a little over 20 minutes to win the game in jaw dropping fashion.
By the end of the game both quarterbacks had thrown for 500+ yards. In what was a sensational second half, Thompson-Robinson had completed 25 of 38 passes for 508 yards and five touchdowns.
The end of the game was a sack on Wazzu quarterback, Anthony Gordon. It was UCLA’s first sack of the game and an unfortunate end for Gordon who had thrown for 9 touchdowns. I felt for the kid. Pullman was stunned into silence.
Kelly was asked at the end of the game if this was a program defining win. It is. It has also likely saved Chip’s career in Pasadena.
This was no night for defence. But it was a night that showcased why the PAC12 is a superbly entertaining conference.
Final score, Washington State 63 : UCLA 67
It was as crazy a game as I have watched and why College > NFL.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports