It doesn’t matter if I say I’m going to run a pro-style, I’m going to run the spread, I’m going to run the wishbone. It doesn’t matter as long as you figure out what this group of young men can do and then play to their strengths.
Mike Bellotti, ESPN analyst
The season will end soon enough for UCLA. There are no such assurances of finality to the major issues beleaguering the Bruins.
What is likely to be UCLA’s last game of the season Saturday against California at Memorial Stadium will not necessarily be the cutoff point for an inert running game, an erratic offensive line and a group of receivers responsible for more drops than a roller coaster.
The Bruins switched to a pro-style offense with hopes that it would accentuate quarterback Josh Rosen’s strengths while providing a power running game. It never happened. UCLA reverted to more of a spread look even before Rosen sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in early October, and then used it almost exclusively once backup quarterback Mike Fafaul took over.
To have any chance at playing in a bowl game, UCLA was going to need help from other teams. But first it had to help itself, and it did not do so in a 36-10loss to California at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Bruins (4-8, 2-7 in Pac-12 play) needed a win to have any shot at sneaking into a bowl as a 5-7 team. So did the Golden Bears (5-7, 3-6), and now they will wait to see if their Academic Progress Rate score is good enough to earn a postseason appearance since there are more bowl games than teams with six victories.
Meanwhile UCLA’s forgettable season comes to an unceremonious end, with star quarterback Josh Rosen on the shelf and backup Mike Fafaul navigating the team to a lopsided loss on a rainy Berkeley day. It was the first time a Sonny Dykes-led Cal team beat a California-based Pac-12 team.
If there was any doubt about the outcome of this game, California quarterback Davis Webb hit Bud Rivera for a two-yard touchdown to give the Golden Bears a 36-10 lead over the Bruins with 9:41 left in the game.
After Devante Downs intercepted a pass by UCLA quarterback Mike Fafaul, the Cal offense set up in Bruins territory. The drive was slow at first, but then Webb flicked a screen to Khalfani Muhammad and he ran 29 yards to the goal line.
A costly mistake led to points for California, and the Golden Bears now lead the Bruins, 26-7, with 6:07 left in the third quarter.
UCLA fumbled the kickoff return after a Golden Bears touchdown, and then thought it had a touchdown when Nate Meadors ran an interception all the way back. But the play was called back for a holding call on Meadors, and Davis Webb hit Chad Hansen for 23 yards two plays later.
And two plays after that, Webb found Jordan Duncan on a screen for a two-yard touchdown pass.
UCLA has been abysmal so far against California, but the Bruins certainly aren't out of it. UCLA trails 12-0 at the start of the second half, and both teams punted on their first possession of the third quarter.
The Bruins started with a pass down the right sideline, but Mike Fafaul threw short of Kenneth Walker III. Two plays later, Fafaul looked to the other sideline and threw short of Jordan Lasley, and UCLA was off the field in 46 seconds.
Cal quickly moved the ball after the Bruins punted it away, but their first drive of the half also stalled. Davis Webb hit Chad Hansen for a 19-yard gain on the second play of the drive, but then two short gains led to an incomplete pass on third down.
Another California drive, another Matt Anderson field goal.
It is not exactly what the Golden Bears are looking for, but Anderson's fourth field goal of the game — this one from 24 yards — stretches their advantage to 12-0 over UCLA with two minutes left in the first half.
A fumble set Cal back to a second and 25 in its own territory, but Davis Webb hit Chad Hansen for 26 yards to pick up a first down on third and 18. Two plays later, Webb lofted a pass to Jordan Veasy that went for 21 yards and moved the Golden Bears to the Bruins' 19-yard line.