Pasadena, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - A Golden State battle in the Pac-12 is on
tap as the California Golden Bears make the short trip south to face the 11th-
ranked UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl.
The Golden Bears' first season under Sonny Dykes has been filled with a
resurgence of the passing game, but it hasn't translated into wins. California
enters play on Saturday with a record of just 1-4. The lone win of the
campaign came against FCS foe Portland State (37-30). Since then the Golden
Bears have lost three straight games, including their first two contests in
As for UCLA, things have gone much better as the team has risen to its highest
ranking since 2011 and its first 4-0 start since 2005. The Bruins dispatched
Utah, 34-27, on the road last Thursday to claim their first win in conference
play as they look to make it to a third straight Pac-12 Championship Game.
A number of miscues doomed UCLA a year ago in Berkeley when these teams met.
California forced six turnovers in the contest and rolled to a 43-18 victory.
However, the Bruins still hold a 50-32-1 edge in the all-time series,
including wins in five of the last six matchups at home.
There isn't much of a mystery as to how the Golden Bears like to move the
ball. Dykes has brought over his pass-heavy offensive scheme from Louisiana
Tech and has transformed California into the fourth-most prolific passing
attack in the country (402.6 ypg).
In the driver's seat of the offense is freshman Jared Goff, who has more than
held his own. Goff has already thrown for 1,821 yards, which is second in the
Pac-12. He is completing just under 60 percent of his pass attempts, but has
been sacked 16 times. He has nine touchdown passes against five interceptions.
In last week's 44-22 loss to Washington State, Goff threw for a career-high
504 yards to bounce back from a rough showing in the previous week against
Though the Golden Bears have been posting incredible passing numbers, the bulk
of the passes have gone to just a pair of receivers. Both Chris Harper (38
receptions, 570 yards, four TDs) and Bryce Treggs (36 receptions, 418 yards,
TD) rank in the top 10 in the conference in receptions and receiving yards.
Harper is coming off a career-game against the Cougars as he brought in 14
passes for 231 yards.
"We are struggling at running back, so it is important to make some plays with
inside receivers," Dykes said of Harper, who was used out of the slot
primarily against Washington State. "We thought we were not getting the
production out of that group that we needed, and we thought we could get some
more production if we moved Chris inside."
Dykes is not exaggerating about the struggles of the California run game.
While taking a backseat to the passing assault, the Golden Bears are averaging
just 2.9 yards per carry. Brendan Bigelow (277 yards) has shown big play
ability in the past, but the leading rusher has been less productive this
The up-tempo style of play on offense has done no favors for a defense that is
struggling to find any success. 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.
A struggling defense isn't something you want against any team, but that is
especially true if UCLA is the opponent. The Bruins are posting 48 points and
561.8 yards of total offense per game. That has them in rarified air as only
No. 2 Oregon is producing at a higher level on offense.
Sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley, and the offense as a whole, was a bit
more human against Utah. Hundley threw for just 211 yards in the contest while
throwing his fourth interception of the year. Overall, Hundley is completing
an efficient 65.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,059 yards and nine
scores. Hundley is also dangerous on the ground with 242 yards and three
Speaking of rushing, the Bruins took a big hit against Utah as leading rusher
Jordon James (471 yards, five TDs) injured his ankle. James is listed as
doubtful for Saturday's matchup which will thrust Paul Perkins into a starting
role. Perkins rushed for 92 yards on 16 carries against Utah and also had two
receptions for 49 yards.
Perhaps Hundley's greatest strength as a signal caller has been that he does
not rely on just one receiver. Devin Fuller (16 receptions, 167 yards, TD) and
Shaquelle Evans (14 receptions, 221 yards, three TDs) have been the most
productive receivers, but plenty of other pass catchers have gotten in the mix
All-American Anthony Barr finally dominated against Utah with three tackles
for loss and two sacks. Barr, who was third in the conference in TFL last
season, 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.
"We've got a really good linebacking corps. We've got a really good front
seven. We haven't given up a lot of points this year and that's the name of
the game," UCLA head coach Jim Mora said of his squad. "I like the way we're
playing right now on defense."
The Sports Network