California vs. UCLA Prediction, Game Preview

    California vs. UCLA prediction and game preview. A battle of California schools takes place in the Rose Bowl as the Golden Bears visit the Bruins.

    October 20, 2015

    The Cal Bears (5-1) and the UCLA Bruins (4-2) meet at the Rose Bowl, both looking to rebound from losses. Check out the Cal vs. UCLA prediction and game preview.

    Cal vs. UCLA Prediction & Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Thursday, October 22
    Game Time: 9:00 ET
    Network: ESPN

    Follow and/or Contact @Rich Cirminiello  

    Why You Need To Care

    Now that Cal and UCLA have hit speed bumps in the season, which team gets turned around and rejoins the divisional hunts?

    Before sitting out Week 7 on a bye, the Bears lost a heartbreaker to Utah, 30-24. The situation, though, is far more dire for the Bruins, who were outclassed in back-to-back games by Arizona State and Stanford to fall out of the Top 25. Last Thursday’s collapse to the Cardinal, 56-35, completely changed the tenor of a once-promising season. And a third straight stumble will jettison UCLA clear out of the South Division mix.

    No. 20 Cal has had a chance to pause, regroup and get healthy since the Utah game. All of the Bears’ goals are still out there in front of them, including shocking the world by winning the North Division. However, the second-half schedule is as rugged as any in the Pac-12, including trips to Pasadena, Eugene and the Farm. If Cal is ready to take this season to a new level, it’ll have to begin with a Thursday night win at the Rose Bowl.

    Why Cal Will Win

    The UCLA defense is staggering. The Bears are itching to add to the misery.

    The Bruins have allowed an average of 43 points over the last three games, culminating in the implosion to Stanford. And while the pass defense is still solid, the run D has been getting trucked, clearly missing DT Eddie Vanderdoes and LB Myles Jack in the middle of the lineup. Sonny Dykes’ offense is built around Jared Goff’s arm and playmaking receivers, but Cal might be inclined to give a few more touches to the backs, Daniel Lasco, Vic Enwere and Khalfani Muhammad. Lasco is the star of the trio, and he’s as healthy as he’s been since injuring his hip in Week 2.

    Why UCLA Will Win

    Since Cal is a high-risk, high-reward defense, the Bruins will be content to pound away with RB Paul Perkins 25 or 30 times.

    UCLA wants to slow things down, keep the ball away from Goff and soften a so-so Cal defense. Yes, the Bears have been terrific at creating takeaways, leading the Pac-12 in the category. But they won’t stand up opponents at the point of attack, yielding 222 yards to Utah’s Devontae Booker two weeks ago. The key for the Bruins will be QB Josh Rosen. He doesn’t need to outplay Goff in the battle of the future first-round picks. If he simply makes good decisions and doesn’t force the ball, Cal instantly becomes an ordinary D when it’s not flipping the field and seizing momentum.

    Player Who Matters

    The Bruins need Rosen to play mistake-free on Thursday night, but that objective became a little cloudier when his left tackle, Conor McDermott, sprained his knee.

    McDermott is not expected to play, which will push redshirt freshman Kolton Miller, who was overmatched against Stanford, into the lineup. And when Miller gets matched with high-motor Cal DE Kyle Kragen, Rosen’s pocket could be compromised in a hurry. Kragen leads the team with five sacks and is the Bears’ best pass rusher.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Clearly, UCLA is a flawed team, and not the squad many felt it would be back in September. But desperation and a home crowd, with a national TV audience watching, will do wonders for the Bruins on Thursday night.

    For all of the issues UCLA faced the last two games, it still has a talented roster that can play with anyone on a good night. And Jim Mora will make sure his kids are ready to play with Cal, employing a physical approach to offset the Bears’ finesse. Perkins will outplay Goff, rushing for 150 yards and two scores and earning game MVP honors. Plus, the Bruins have the secondary personnel to keep the Cal passing game from cranking out its usual production.

    Cal vs. UCLA Prediction

    Final Score: UCLA 37, Cal 33, Line: UCLA -3.5, o/u: 68
    Must See Rating: 5: Bridge of Spies – 1: Rock The Kasbah … 4

    MORE: Bold Midseason Power Five Championship Picks

    DOWNLOAD THE APP

    Have the full Stadium experience

    Watch with friends

    Get rewards

    Join the discussion