Golden Bears Look to Bounce Back Against UCLA


Following an undefeated start through five games, the California Golden Bears suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of the then fifth-ranked Utah Utes. At game time, Cal was ranked 23rd in the AP rankings, but the hard-nosed loss, during which Cal had a chance to score a late touchdown to potentially win, didn’t drop them from the rankings. Instead they remained 23rd, and during their bye this past week, Cal actually jumped up to 20th.

Fresh off an extra week to rest, recuperate, and gameplan, the Bears have a chance to bounce back from that stinging loss to the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins are now an unranked team after two harrowing defeats at the hands of a pair of Pac-12 teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Stanford Cardinal. UCLA had been ranked as high as seventh earlier in the year.

Cal’s junior quarterback Jared Goff should be hungry to redeem himself after suffering through the worst performance of his college career against the Utes. Goff threw five interceptions to the Utah defense, including four in the first half, the most in the FBS in a single half this season. He accumulated a season-low 53.2 completion percentage and 106.7 passer rating.

Goff has not beaten UCLA in two previous attempts, completing 51 of his 84 attempts for 518 yards and two touchdowns, along with a pair of interceptions. In his first game against the Bruins, Goff didn’t throw a touchdown pass, one of five such games in his college career.

Senior wide receiver Trevor Davis has been the Bears’ best big play threat. He has 15 catches in six games, but is averaging nearly 23 yards per reception. Six of his catches have gone for over 20 yards, and three have been worth at least 50. Davis dealt with an ankle injury over the bye week, but is listed as probable and should be good to go against UCLA.

UCLA is coming off a 56-35 thumping at the hands of the Cardinal, during which they allowed 310 rushing yards, including a school-record 243 on the ground to Christian McCaffrey. The Bears may be tempted to go run heavy against the Bruins, as their three-pronged attack of Daniel Lasco (if healthy), Vic Enwere, and Khalfani Muhammad could have similar success to the Cardinal ground game. Lasco has been dealing with a hip muscle strain for over a month, but is listed as probable against UCLA.

UCLA is dealing with key injuries of their own, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They are missing a big contributor at each level of the defense, as defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (knee), linebacker Myles Jack (knee), and cornerback Fabian Moreau (foot) are all out for the season due to their respective injuries. After allowing 42 combined points in the first three games of the year, UCLA has given up 124 points in the three latest games.

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The Bruins do have a very good offense, led by true freshman quarterback Josh Rosen. Rosen is completing 59 percent of his passes, and his 1,569 passing yards are third among freshman throwers in the FBS while his 12 touchdowns are second among first-year players. His top two receiving threats, senior Jordan Payton and junior Thomas Duarte have combined for 54 receptions, 834 yards, and nine touchdowns. Cal will also have to figure out a way to slow down running back Paul Perkins, who has racked up 681 yards on 114 carries (six yards per carry) and nine scores.

In the all-time series between the two, UCLA has beaten Cal 52 times, while Cal has 32 wins to their record. The two were also involved in a scoreless tie in 1933. The Bruins have won the last two matchups, including a hard-fought 36-34 win last season that was decided when kicker Ka’Imi Fairbairn hit what would be the game-winning field goal inside of four minutes.

Cal is playing with the most talented roster they’ve had in years, and looking to prove that they are true contenders in the Pac-12. A win against the Bruins would put them in good standing.

Next: Golden Bears Mid-Season Watch List