UCLA 36, CAL 34: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
The battle in Strawberry Canyon did not disappoint as the UCLA Bruins and California Golden Bears put on a show Saturday afternoon with the Bruins prevailing 36-34.
The Bruins came into the game on a two-game losing streak and did not look anywhere near the team that many thought would contend for the PAC 12 title. Cal came into the contest after suffering a horrible loss at home to the Washington Huskies, and was looking for a quality win to get one step closer to becoming bowl eligible for the first time in the Sonny Dykes era.
The action was fast and furious from the opening whistle. Cal and UCLA both had strong performances from their star players, and the action went full tilt until the final whistle. There were big plays made from both squads, however the biggest had to be the tremendous interception made by UCLA Cornerback Marcus Rios that picked off a late pass from Cal QB Jared Goff and sealed the victory for the Bruins.
Here is the Good, Bad, and Ugly from the matchup:
UCLA Offensive/Defensive Line – For the past few weeks, UCLA has allowed their opponents to just dominate along the line of scrimmage as the Offensive Line has been suspect, and the Defensive Line has been erratic. Both units stepped up their game on Saturday, and was the chief reason for the success of the Bruins. The Offensive Line kept Hundley upright all game and allowed the offense to generate 567 total yards from scrimmage. The Defensive Line also was able to get fantastic pressure on California, and kept the Golden Bears high-flying offense off key for most of the game. The Bruins will need these two units to keep playing at this level if they are to have any success for the rest of this season.
Paul Perkins – UCLA Running Back Paul Perkins has become a fantastic story for the Bruins this season. Perkins was a one-man wrecking crew for the Bruins as he led the UCLA offensive attack with over 151 yards from scrimmage, including a late 49-yard scamper to the end zone that swung the momentum into the favor of the Bruins. Perkins has played extremely well this season, and looks to be a force for the Bruins for the next few years.
Jared Goff – The California Golden Bears have found their man to lead their offensive attack with Sophomore Jared Goff. The young Quarterback has dramatically improved from his rusty freshman season, and is developing into a top-tier Quarterback. Goff was under constant duress throughout the game on Saturday, but his mobility and great touch kept the Bears in the game. Goff threw for 303 yards, and two touchdowns on Saturday afternoon.
Cal’s Offensive Line – For several years, Cal has prided itself in producing some of the most talented Offensive Lines in PAC 12 history. That is not the case this season. Cal could not protect Quarterback Jared Goff at all in the game against the Bruins, and committed several infractions that cost serious yardage. Cal needs to shore this unit up quickly, or the Bears will waste their early great record, and not qualify for a bowl game.
UCLA Turnovers – UCLA could not stop shooting themselves in the foot with three turnovers that turned into touchdowns for the Golden Bears. UCLA could not seem to hold onto the ball, and any momentum that the Bruins would build, instantly would be erased. The standard key to victory is always to limit turnovers, and hold onto the ball.
Cal Coaching Decisions – Cal Head Coach Sonny Dykes has been criticized heavily all season for his decisions late in games. On Saturday, Dykes made a call that was highly questionable when all his team needed was a field goal and he had his Quarterback throw a deep bomb trying to score a touchdown. UCLA read the play and UCLA Cornerback Marcus Rios made a highlight reel interception that sealed the victory for the Bruins. This play was one of many questionable decisions, including having to burn several timeouts due to improper alignments that cost the Bears at the end of the game. Dykes has always been known to be a bit of a gambler with his calls, but lately, these gambles are not paying off for the Bears.