Pasadena, Calif. —UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson heard all the comments about their record not meaning anything due to the quality of opponents they played in the top half of their season. That fueled Thompson for the game.
On Friday night, Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins made a clear statement with their first victory over a top-15 team since 2014. Thompson-Robinson passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns in UCLA’s 40-32 victory over No. 15 Washington (4-1, 1-1) in a matchup of unbeaten Pac-12 teams at the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins have also won eight straight dating to last season — their longest unbeaten streak since 2005. They have scored at least 40 points in six of those victories.
It is the Bruins’ first 5-0 start since 2013.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half,” coach Kalen DeBoer said. “Our guys now realize is that we’re a team that people are gonna get up to play. Not that we went into the game thinking otherwise, but we got to emotionally and physically be ready to play.”
Huskies’ Michael Penix Jr. came into the game leading the nation in passing yards but struggled in the first half as the Bruins scored on four straight drives and jumped out to a 26-10 lead going into the break.
Penix finished the game 33 of 48 for 345 yards, four touchdowns, and two picks. Penix passed for a pair of touchdowns and 2-point conversions in the fourth quarter as Washington got within eight points, but the Bruins ran out the final three minutes.
The Huskies got their offense rolling early after it took the opening kickoff and scored 10 plays later when wide receiver Rome Odunze beat safety Devin Kirkwood in single coverage and caught a 33-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-6.
UCLA countered on a drive on its own driving to the three on its opening drive, but turned it over on downs after three straight incomplete passes. Two plays later, the defensive unit came up huge when Penix fumbled a pitch and linebacker Laiatu Latu tackled Wayne Taulapappa in the end zone.
Latu, who also had three tackles and a sack, began his career at Washington before transferring this year. It was UCLA’s first safety since the 2018 season finale against Stanford.
Dorian Thompson Robinson, also ran 2 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, when he sidestepped Bralen Trice and Jayvion Green, causing them to fall on one another at the goal line in making it 33-10.
Zach Charbonnet rushed for 124 yards and a score, Jake Bobo had six receptions for 142 yards and a pair of TDs while the Bruins recorded their first safety in four years and forced a pair of turnovers.
“Our defense did a great job in the first half. For them to stake us that lead when we needed every inch of it,” coach Chip Kelly said. “Dorian was clutch. We have total confidence in everything that he does.”
Odunze had eight receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
These are the games that made Thompson-Robinson want to come back his fifth season after being part of teams that posted three losing records and qualified for a bowl game canceled by a COVID-19 outbreak. The Utes were the last team to beat the Bruins, late last October while Thompson-Robinson was sidelined because of a hand injury.
“People were saying all week that we’re the worst 4-0 team out there and writing us off. I think my boys came here with a chip on their shoulder,” said Thompson-Robinson, who had the sixth 300-yard passing game of his career. “I think I told y’all on Monday, see if Washington can run with us, not the other way around.”
Washington: The Huskies were ranked near the bottom of the conference in pass defense as their secondary had plenty of problems trying to contain Thompson-Robinson and Bobo.
UCLA: The Bruins had lost 11 straight games against top- 15 foes, including two to the Huskies, before Friday night’s win. Their last win was in the Alamo Bowl against No. 11 Kansas State to wrap up the 2014 season. UCLA’s last victory against a top-15 Pac-12 team was also in 2014 against No. 14 Arizona.
Washington: At Arizona State next Saturday.
UCLA: Plays No. 12 Utah next Saturday.