Vilardo: UCLA vs. Hawai’i Preview by the Numbers

Posted on August 25, 2021

  By Stephen Vilardo, SportsPac12

The 2021 college football season opens this weekend and UCLA is getting a jump on the rest of the Pac-12—and most of the nation—with a Week Zero tilt with Hawai’i.

The Bruins will try to break a current eight-game nonconference losing streak.

The last time UCLA beat a team from outside the Pac-12 was in 2017, a 56-23 win over the Rainbow Warriors at the Rose Bowl.

This will mark the fourth time in five regular season nonconference games for Hawai’i that the opponent has come from the Conference of Champions.

The ‘Bows went 2-1 against Pac-12 opponents in 2019, and UH will face Oregon State on September 11th.

UCLA has lost their last three season openers while Hawai’i enters the contest having won their last four lid-lifters.

In fact, the Rainbow Warriors are opening the season with a true road game for the fourth time in the last five seasons, coming away with a victory in each of the prior three.

The last time Hawai’i lost a season opener was 2016 vs California in Sydney, Australia. 

While UCLA is looking to break a losing streak in season openers, the Bruins did get a win last season in their home opener.

It broke a two-game losing streak in home openers for UCLA.

That was tied for the second longest such streak in the nation with only Florida State having lost more consecutive home openers

(Bonus Stat: The Seminoles lost their opener a season ago and now have a four-game skid in home openers). 


Hawai’i returns all 11 starters from a defense that last season was led by Darius Muasau, who led FBS players with 68 solo tackles a year ago.

The Bruins have some offensive firepower back as well and some with numbers to watch. Greg Dulcich had 127 receiving yards in the finale last season against USC.

Should Dulcich reach the 100-yard mark against Hawai’i, he’d be the first Bruin with back-to-back 100 yard receiving games since Jordan Lasley and four in a row in 2017.

Should Dulcich get his 100 then it would be a safe bet that the man throwing the ball to him with climb the Bruins all-time passing list and pass some big names along the way.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson has thrown for 5,132 yards in his career, the ninth most in UCLA history. Should he throw for 231 on Saturday he will move into seventh moving ahead of both Troy Aikman and Tommy Maddox.

Dulcich converted his receptions into first downs at an extremely high rate a season ago. 80.8% of the Tight End’s receptions in 2020 resulted in a Bruin first-down, the fifth highest rate of any player in the nation with at least 20 receptions.

Greg Dulcich | UCLA Athletics

On third-down last season he caught six passes with five of them moving the chains. Dorian Thompson-Robinson saw 76.7% of his completions last season resulting in a first down, the 13th highest rate of any QB in the nation and the highest of any Pac-12 signal caller.

In the Red-Zone a season ago DTR completed 76.0% of his passes, the fourth highest in the nation. 

We mentioned Darius Muasau leading the nation with 68 solo stops last season, but he was also fifth in the nation with 11.6 total tackles per game.

The Bruins also return some defensive numbers as Caleb Johnson averaged .79 sacks per game in 2020, the 27th most of any player in the nation and 11th most of any Linebacker.

The Bruins averaged 3.29 sacks per game as a team, good for the eighth most in the nation.

Here are some quick numbers the three-game series, which UCLA leads 3-0 (2-0 at home), including their last meeting, a 56-23 Bruin victory in Pasadena.

Points per Game35.426.2
Points Allowed per Game30.727.6
Total Offense455.0408.8
[Read Dane Miller’s UCLA-Hawai’i Game Preview]

Follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenVilardo and his organization @SERCenter.

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