UCLA (4-7) at California (4-7) at Memorial Stadium. TV: ESPN2, 4 p.m.
Most intriguing story line: This could be dubbed the APR Bowl. The winner of what otherwise seems like an inconsequential game could parlay a 5-7 record and its Academic Progress Rate score into a bowl bid if there are not enough teams with .500 or better records to fill the 80 bowl slots. UCLA would have a better chance of securing a bid than Cal based on its 972 APR from the most recent reporting period compared to the Golden Bears’ 960. Bruins Coach Jim Mora has not said whether his team would accept a bowl invitation with a losing record, a nod to the need to win this game before considering that possibility.
UCLA pass offense vs. Cal pass defense: This is probably the last college game for Bruins quarterback Mike Fafaul, the fifth-year senior who has admirably stepped in for the injured Josh Rosen without much to show for it. UCLA is 1-4 in the games he has started largely because the Bruins haven’t developed a run game to support what Fafaul has been able to do through the air. One positive in recent weeks has been the emergence of receivers Jordan Lasley and Theo Howard, who could become the go-to targets Rosen will need next season.
UCLA run offense vs. Cal run defense: The Golden Bears’ cuddly soft run defense might invite the Bruins to run the ball more than they have all season. Then again, UCLA’s rushing game has been every bit as inept as the defense it’s facing. The Bruins are on the brink of going a full season without reaching two thresholds: They have not collectively rushed for 250 yards in a game or produced a 100-yard game from an individual. It’s not a stretch to think they could do both against Cal, which is allowing an average of 290 yards rushing per game.
Cal pass offense vs. UCLA pass defense: Mora said he would like to bring in more graduate transfers, something that has tremendously benefited the Golden Bears with quarterback Davis Webb replacing the departed Jared Goff. Cal hasn’t experienced much of a drop-off in its passing game behind Webb, who came over from Texas Tech and has completed 61.2% of his passes for 3,994 yards and 35 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Cal receiver Chad Hansen leads the Pac-12 Conference in receptions (9.1) and yards receiving per game (121). He’ll face a UCLA secondary that has allowed 10 passing touchdowns in 11 games.
Cal run offense vs. UCLA run defense: The Golden Bears average 150 yards rushing per game — nearly twice the Bruins’ average of 84 yards — and still rank No. 96 out of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Tailback Khalfani Muhammad averages 71 yards rushing per game and 5.8 yards per carry but has scored only two touchdowns. UCLA’s run defense has thrived against teams with less-than-vaunted rushing attacks.
Special teams: UCLA appears to have settled on kicker J.J. Molson and punter Stefan Flintoft after rotating its specialists for much of the season. Ishmael Adams has largely been a disappointment in the return game, averaging 3.4 yards on punt returns and 23.3 yards on kickoff returns. Cal’s Matt Anderson has made 17 of 21 field goals, and Dylan Klumph is averaging 44.7 yards per punt.
Ben Bolch’s pick: The forecast calls for a chilly, soggy afternoon, with temperatures in the 50s and a 60% chance of rain. That should provide the perfect backdrop to the probable end of a gloomy season for both teams. Ultimately, Cal’s passing game makes the plays it needs against the Bruins to slightly temper its disappointment. Cal 38, UCLA 35