Bruins Will Try to Extend Reign Over Cal to 18 Games in a Row
A victory today in its Pacific 10 Conference opener at the Rose Bowl would be UCLA’s 18th straight over California, which has beaten the Bruins only four times in 38 games since 1950.
Cal Coach Bruce Snyder doesn’t want to hear about it.
“I wasn’t here for 15 of those (losses), so maybe it’s just not as graphic to me,” said Snyder, who is only 0-2 against UCLA. “If I’d been the head coach here for 17 years, it might be pretty damn graphic to me.”
UCLA Coach Terry Donahue, of course, has a different perspective. “Obviously, I think it’s been a great series,” said Donahue, who is 13-0 against the Bears. “They probably don’t think much of it.”
The last time California beat UCLA was on Oct. 23, 1971, at the Coliseum. None of Cal’s great quarterbacks of the last two decades--not Rich Campbell, not Gale Gilbert, not Steve Bartkowski, not the late Joe Roth--ever beat UCLA.
The latest, Troy Taylor, gets his fourth chance today, against a UCLA team that, like Cal, is 1-2.
“Cal looks a little bit like we do,” Donahue said.
In terms of school colors, maybe. Both wear blue and gold.
But in terms of talent and overall speed, the Bruins more closely resemble Miami, a 31-3 winner over Cal two weeks ago, than they do the Bears, Snyder said.
“How good are they?” Snyder said. “They’re better than Michigan, and Michigan has to be in the top five and might be the best team in the nation. So, they’re right at that level.
“UCLA has the wide receivers Miami has. Its offensive line functions better as a unit. Their defensive speed is comparable.”
Although Miami is unbeaten and ranked No. 2, UCLA is out of the top 25 after lying down in its opener against Tennessee, barely escaping at San Diego State and squandering an eight-point lead in the last 95 seconds of last week’s 24-23 loss to Michigan.
Cal’s record includes a 35-19 defeat by Oregon, which puts the Bears in a hole as far as the race for the Rose Bowl is concerned. That’s nothing new for Cal, however. The Bears haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1959.
They don’t figure to make it this season, either, unless Taylor recovers from a couple of nagging injuries and leads a complete turnaround. The 6-foot-4 senior, nursing bruised ribs and a sprained right ankle, practiced Wednesday for the first time in two weeks.
Taylor suffered the rib injury during the Miami game, completing only nine of 23 passes for 77 yards before he had to leave. Last week, in a 20-14 victory over Wisconsin, he completed six of 12 passes for 93 yards before spraining the ankle.
“It’s regressed us a little bit in terms of our progress,” offensive coordinator Terry Shea said of Taylor’s unavailability.
Cal’s ball-control offense not only hasn’t produced much yardage or points--the Bears rank ninth in the Pac-10 in both total offense and scoring--but also hasn’t controlled the ball.
Cal’s first three opponents averaged almost 23 more offensive plays than the Bears. Miami ran 99 offensive plays to Cal’s 55.
Defensively, the Bears have been less than ferocious, too. They’ve given up an average of 421.7 yards a game, including 205.7 on the ground. Both figures are conference highs.
And this week, of course, they have had to endure endless reminders about their inability to beat UCLA since Nixon was President.
“It’s an amazing streak,” Donahue said. “We’ve played some pretty good ball against Cal. We’ve been lucky at times. They’ve been unlucky at times.
“Maybe significant is a better word than amazing. But it’s somewhere between significant and amazing.”
By any description, it hasn’t been any fun for Cal.
Last season’s 38-21 UCLA victory in Berkeley, which ended about an hour after Notre Dame had completed a 31-30 win over Miami, boosted the Bruins to No. 1 for the first time in 21 years, but several Cal players questioned UCLA’s credentials. One, defensive back Doug Parrish, said UCLA was no better than Washington State. Two weeks later, Washington State beat UCLA, 34-30, knocking the Bruins from the top of the polls.
A crowd of about 50,000 is expected. . . . Unless it reaches a bowl game, which it hasn’t done since 1979, Cal won’t leave the Bay Area again this season. The Bears will play their next six games at home before ending the season at Stanford. . . . Cal is 2-10 on the road under Coach Bruce Snyder, whose overall record in two-plus seasons is 9-13-3. . . . UCLA is listed as an 18-point favorite.
Injuries may necessitate two more changes in UCLA’s defensive lineup. Tackle Bryan Wilcox is listed as doubtful after suffering a concussion last week against Michigan, and cornerback Randy Beverly, still bothered by a broken toe, also is listed as doubtful. Stacy Elliott or Brad Bryson would replace Wilcox, and Michael Williams, who started in UCLA’s first two games, would replace Beverly.
For the first time since it moved to the Rose Bowl in 1982, UCLA has lost three straight games in Pasadena--to USC last season and to Tennessee and Michigan this month. . . . UCLA is only 6-5-2 in conference openers under Coach Terry Donahue and was winless (0-3-2) in five straight before beating Arizona two years ago.
Nevertheless, a victory today would be Donahue’s 71st in conference play, tying him with Washington’s Don James atop the all-time Pac-10 list. Donahue’s conference record is 70-24-4.