Chip Kelly Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA’s football team lost its first five games under Chip Kelly in 2018. While the Bruins have seen more success on the field since that rough start, Kelly had never managed to get his record at UCLA to above .500. But Kelly had managed to get his record to even .500 (26-26) heading into Saturday night’s game against Arizona.

So, it seemed as though Kelly could get his record at UCLA to over .500. After all, The Bruins were favored by 20 points heading into the game and it wasn’t hard to see why. The Wildcats came into the game 1-5 in PAC-12 play and 3-6 overall. Worse, Arizona had dropped five of its last six games before the game against UCLA and had surrendered at least 45 points in all five losses. But the Bruins not only failed to cover the 20-point spread, they lost outright.

Zach Charbonnet ran for 181 yards and scored three touchdowns for the Bruins. But aside from him, UCLA had a hard time scoring. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson passed for a respectable 245 yards with no interceptions but only had one touchdown pass. Normally that might be enough to win. But UCLA’s struggling defense couldn’t bail Kelly and the Bruins out.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s loss, Kelly was the target of criticism — and a lot of it.

Had UCLA won on Saturday, it would have had a clear path to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Now, in addition to upsetting crosstown rival, USC, on November 19 and defeating Cal the following weekend, the Bruins will need a lot of help. Saturday’s loss also eliminated UCLA from College Football Playoff contention. Even winning out, the Bruins would have needed some help to get to the top four. Still, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Now it is.

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