Golden Bears are Dominated, Drop Second Straight to UCLA


Thursday night’s matchup between the California Golden Bears and the UCLA Bruins featured a junior quarterback who is projected to be the first quarterback taken in the upcoming draft, if he were to declare. Watching this game, there was no indication that label wasn’t used to describe UCLA’s quarterback Josh Rosen.

Rosen, an 18-year-old freshman making his seventh start, picked apart the Cal defense while leading his team to a 40-24 win. He set a school-record with 34 completions, and fell one yard shy of hitting the 400 mark while throwing three touchdown strikes. Rosen was well-protected all night, as he was sacked just once by Todd Barr. The Cal defense entered the game leading the Pac-12 at 3.2 sacks per game. They led the nation in takeaways, at 21 through the first six games, but got just one turnover, on a fumble on the fourth quarter when the game was pretty much put away already.

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UCLA running back Paul Perkins had a great first half, as he gained 73 yards on 11 carries before suffering a really gruesome-looking knee injury late in the second quarter. He wouldn’t return to the game. Fortunately, Perkins walked off the field under his own power, and was riding a stationary bike on the sideline, so it doesn’t seem to be as serious as it initially appeared.

His replacement, freshman Soso Jamabo, didn’t miss a beat. Jamabo carried the ball 18 times and racked up 79 yards of his own. He scored the Bruins’ final touchdown of the night late in the fourth quarter, putting them ahead 40-16 at the time.

UCLA’s defense, despite missing some key players including linebacker Myles Jack, smothered the Bears’ offense. Quarterback Jared Goff (the guy who is that highly-touted prospect) was under pressure through the entire night, and didn’t have a consistent, clean pocket at any point in the game. He was sacked five times, and was hit a lot more. Bears’ receivers were unable to get any separation from their defenders, and the offense had to settle for short passes more often than not. The run game was just about non-existent in the early going.

Goff’s final numbers don’t looks half bad, but certainly were not up to his standards. Goff completed 32 passes in 52 attempts for 295 yards, worth a season-low 9.2 yards per completion, and 5.6 yards per attempt. He did throw three touchdowns (including one to Kenny Lawler, who made another fantastic catch in the endzone), and also ran in a two-point conversion. At the end of the day, there wasn’t enough help around him.

Cal entered the half trailing 26-10 to the Bruins, and were thoroughly dominated in every category. UCLA picked up 21 first downs to Cal’s nine. UCLA racked up 357 yards on offense while Cal gained only 170 yards. In the passing game, UCLA outgained Cal 238 to 140. UCLA scored on all six offensive drives in the opening half. 

It’s starting to look like deja vu all over again for the Bears. In 2014, the Bears opened the year with four wins in five games, but fell apart and dropped six of their last seven contests. This year, the Bears opened with five consecutive wins, and have now lost two games in a row in very disappointing fashion. With a matchup against the USC Trojans on the horizon, the Bears don’t get a reprieve in the schedule. The Pac-12 stays tough, but the Bears need to stay tougher.

Despite the two losses, head coach Sonny Dykes, as well as his players are remaining confident. In the postgame press conference, Dykes stated “we have a good football team, but we’ve got to get some things fixed”. Junior linebacker Hardy Nickerson said “we’re a better team than the way we played tonight.” Goff promised that Cal “will be a different team next week”.

The mindset is right. The results have to follow that.

Next: Cal Bears Mid-Season Award Watch