Wiped away from the top 25 following consecutive losses, the UCLA Bruins (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) look to resurface on the national radar against the visiting No. 20 California Golden Bears (5-1, 2-1) on Thursday night at the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins succumbed to an overwhelming Stanford rushing attack last week, with 310 rushing yards and four touchdowns largely canceling out their 506 total yards from scrimmage, while freshman quarterback Josh Rosen heaved two interceptions.
UCLA did get junior running back Paul Perkins back into form as he tallied 104 of the team’s 181 rushing yards, with freshman rusher Bolu Olorunfunmi gaining another 66 yards on only six attempts.
However, head coach Jim Mora’s squad would fall 56-35 in by far their worst defensive showing of the season, and the Bruins dropped from No. 18 in the country to the last spot outside of the top 25.
The game didn’t display the same Bruins promise from the first four games of the season, but they still hold an outside chance of moving up the Pac-12 South with some help needed from presently undefeated No. 3 Utah as well as unranked Arizona and Arizona State.
But the Golden Bears learned just how difficult it will be for any team to bump the Utes from atop the conference and national standings after they fell 30-24 on the road last week.
Quarterback Jared Goff and Cal were riding a five-game winning streak to start the season, but the junior ran, or rather threw, into Utah’s bevy of secondary talent and committed five turnovers. Goff also threw two touchdowns, hitting senior receivers Trevor Davis and Darius Powe, but the Bears offense sputtered in the fourth quarter with a punt, interception, and a 14-play scoreless drive on their final three possessions.
Despite the loss, the Bears rose three spots in the most recent rankings to No. 20, the highest perch for the program in head coach Sonny Dykes three-year tenure.
Goff previously threw only four picks in the Bears first five games of the season, yet despite the errors is still the Pac-12’s third most efficient passer with a 157.1 rating and ranks second with 328.3 yards per game.
And like the Bruins, Cal’s frontline had no answer for Utah’s ceaseless rushing attack. Though still one of the conference’s better units against the run, the Bears allowed 265 yards and two scores on the ground after giving up an average of 137.2 yards in their previous five matchups.
UCLA’s poor showing against the Cardinal slots them last in the Pac-12 against the run, letting up 215.7 yards per game, though the Bears ninth-ranked rushing offense in the conference may not pose a threat.
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online: Watch ESPN