Bruins, Cal roll with the financial punches

The University of California football team has headed south to play UCLA in what might be the most publicized bus trip from the Bay Area since Ken Kesey took his Merry Pranksters on the road. Times staff writer Chris Foster looks at some of the game’s key matchups and issues:

Bus boys

The state’s financial woes have hit college football. Cal will save about $100,000 by taking a seven-hour bus ride south instead of flying.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was all for it, telling reporters there would be “more time to sleep, more time to study plays.”


Defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti wasn’t as enthusiastic, saying, “I came from Hawaii so the longest drive I ever had was an hour.”

UCLA is also on the cost-cutting bus. Although he did not have a mandate to do so as some state employees did, Coach Rick Neuheisel volunteered to take a 10% pay cut, saving about $125,000.

So this could be called the first BCS (Budget Crisis Situation) game of the season.

Offense is off

UCLA would like to borrow from Greyhound’s advertising campaign, “Leave the driving to us.”

The Bruins had drives of 12 and 16 plays in the first half against Oregon last week that consumed 14 minutes 24 seconds. But all they had to show for it after two quarterback sneak calls from the one-yard line was a field goal.

UCLA’s offense is on a par with those of Florida (Atlantic), Miami (Ohio), (Eastern) Michigan and (Western) Kentucky. All have nine touchdowns, tied for last among the 120 major college teams.

Of course, the one touchdown the UCLA offense has scored in the last two games is one more than California has scored.

The Golden Bears come in averaging 30 points a game and with Jahvid Best, once considered a Heisman trophy candidate, in the backfield. Yet they have two field goals in the last two games, which they lost, to Oregon and USC, by a combined 72-6.

Quarterback scramble

Last Saturday against Oregon, UCLA’s Kevin Prince looked like a quarterback who’d missed four weeks because of a fractured jaw.

Two weeks ago against USC, so did Cal’s Kevin Riley.

The difference being, Prince really did miss four weeks, and two games.

Bank on whomever has the better game today.

Tackling dummies

UCLA’s defense prepared for Best by, in its last two games, giving up 134 yards rushing to Stanford’s Toby Gerhart and 152 to Oregon’s LaMichael James.

“We would get to the ball just fine, but were trying for the big hit,” defensive end Korey Bosworth said. “We wouldn’t bring our feet and we wouldn’t wrap up. We thought one guy coming in hitting him and he’s going to be down. That’s not the way it works, especially when you’ve got good running backs.”

They hate L.A.

Cal has lost four consecutive games at the Rose Bowl and Coach Jeff Tedford has never won in the Los Angeles area as the Bears’ coach, going a combined 0-7 against USC and UCLA.

“We’re playing pretty good teams when we go down there,” Tedford said. “SC is always a tough game and UCLA is always tough at home. One of those games they had a huge comeback with Maurice Drew.”

Included in that 0-7 are losses to UCLA in 2003 and 2007, Bruins teams that had a combined record of 12-14. Cal was ranked No. 10 in the nation when it was upset, 30-21, on its last visit to the Rose Bowl.

Easy as ABC?

UCLA is winless in five games televised by ABC since Neuheisel became coach.

The Bruins put that streak on the line today.

By the numbers

*--* UCLA CATEGORY CAL 20.2 Scoring 30.4 17.2 Points given up 22.6 170.2 Passing offense 208.8 112.6 Rushing offense 182.8 282.8 Total offense 391.6 162.0 Passing defense 240.2 123.6 Rushing defense 120.0 285.6 Total defense 360.2 *--*