The unbeaten and 11th ranked Bruins (4-0) are coming off a 34-27 win over Utah last week and are enjoying their best start since 2005. While the win may have proved costly for UCLA losing LT Torian White and RB Jordan James to ankle injuries, Cal (1-4) comes to the Rose Bowl in a poor spot having lost 3 straight getting whipped last week by Washington St. White and James have played a major role in a dangerous rushing attack that ranks 14th in the nation at 260 yards per game. James, who replaced school rushing leader Johnathan Franklin as UCLA's starter this season, has run for 115.8 yards per game along with 5 scores. Damien Thigpen is a valid third option and saw his first action at Utah after sustaining a knee injury last November.
Luckily the Bruins have plenty of talented options in the backfield to complement James. Brett Hundley (52-242 4.7 3 TD) is sure to call his own number on QB keepers while\Paul Perkins (31-192 6.2 2 TD). will almost certainly receive more touches in situations that warrant the power running attack. Hundley (78/119 10 59 9 TD 4 INT)has also been methodical and accurate in the passing game especially mixing it up nicely in the red zone where the Bruins have excelled against lesser competition. Top targets Shaquelle Evans (14-221 3 TD) and Devin Fuller (16-167 1 TD) have plenty of quickness lining up outside and utilizing open reads. Against Utah, Hundley completed 17 of 27 passes for 211 yards with one touchdown and one interception, ran for 85 yards and a score and added a seven-yard touchdown reception. UCLA is extremely up tempo when it comes to the offense as they are averaging 48 points per game good for 5th in the country.
The Bruins also tallied 6 picks and 7 total turnovers against the Utes last week as Travis Wilson killed what looked like promising drives. UCLA converted their 6 INT's into 17 points and can certainly be intimidating on the defensive side of the ball. Anthony Jefferson, who recorded 2 INTs last week played tremendous man corner cover defense against the opposition and uses pinpoint anticipation making decisions difficult for opposing QBs. The Bruins secondary is extremely versatile and balanced as evident by their speed in the secondary and up front. Eric Kendrick, Ishmael Adams and Priest Willis can stick and counter with the opportunity to make plays setting up the quick strike offense. All-American Anthony Barr finally dominated against Utah with three tackles for loss and two sacks. Barr now has eight on the year along with three sacks. Keenan Graham (4.0 sacks) has also been a handful for opposing offenses. The pair have helped anchor a unit that allows 362.2 yards and 20.2 points per game.
Jared Goff (139/234 1821 9 TD 5 INT) has no doubt been impressive in his first season with the Golden Bears, and has a duo tandem of Chris Harper (38- 570 4 TD) and Bryce Treggs (36-418 1 TD) in the passing game. However given UCLA's balance on the line and in the secondary, Goff will need plenty more from the running game in an effort not to go toe to toe with the Bruins offensively. Cal has run for just 4 TD's all season. Brendan Bigelow (74-277 3.7 ) leads the Golden Bears in ground game yardage but has still not yet found the end zone. Look for Daniel Lasco (40-174 4.4) to get his share of opportunities as well but if Cal falls behind early they will go with a one dimensional passing game. While that's good news for padding Goff's potential record shattering stats, it just simply does not measure up to UCLA's attack. Goff needs to be extremely careful behind his vulnerable undersized offensive line, which has resulted in 16 sacks against opposing defenses.
Injuries have decimated the Golden Bears' defense, with seven projected starters out with injuries after last week's loss. The Bears have struggled against quarterbacks running the spread offense this season and Hundley has done it extremely well so far. California is surrendering 45 points and 524 yards per game. Both of those marks have the Golden Bears ranked dead last in the Pac-12. It get worse as they are also among the five worst teams in the country in each category.
While you can also include the revenge factor at stake from last season when Cal destroyed UCLA 43-17, the circumstances heading into tonight's tilt have taken a turn for the worst. California's only win this year came against Portland State, and its other four losses (against Northwestern, Ohio State, Oregon and Washington State) have all been by at least two touchdowns. UCLA has rolled through the first four weeks, including an impressive blowout win over Nebraska. While Goff has been fairly impressive, he's got much less of a running game to fall back on which is UCLA's strength in the spread offense featuring Hundley's accuracy and mobility to dominate the rushing attack. When opposing teams score first on California as has been the case virtually almost every game, they do not show much fight when it comes to avenging large deficits. The Bruins feel right at home under the lights in Pasadena where they will conquer Cal similar to the tune when we backed the quack attack a couple of weeks ago. Best of luck however you play!
YTD 5-2 .714