UCLA (4-2) at California (4-2) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (63,000) -- Berkeley, California. Television: ABC. Home Record: UCLA 1-2, Cal 2-1. Away Record: UCLA 2-0, Cal 2-1. Neutral Record: UCLA 1-0, Cal 0-0. Conference Record: UCLA 1-2, Cal 2-2. Series Record: UCLA leads, 51-32-1.
GAME NOTES: Both the UCLA Bruins and the California Golden Bears are hungry for a win, and one of them will satisfy the craving when the two meet at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon in a Pac-12 Conference showdown.
After a 4-0 start, albeit one with very few convincing victories, the Bruins have fallen in a rut, with back-to-back losses at home to Utah (30-28) and Oregon (42-30). The Bruins are now 4-2 overall and 1-2 against the rest of the league. They are clearly in desperate need of victories going forward if they hope to reach their lofty preseason goals, if those are even attainable any more.
After three straight weeks of incredibly dramatic finishes, the Golden Bears played a rather ho-hum game against Washington last Saturday. Unfortunately for Cal, it was unable to top the visiting Huskies, falling 31-7. The loss was the second in six games for the Golden Bears, who have split their four league tilts.
When these in-state rivals met last season, it was clear which squad was better, as UCLA rolled to a 37-10 victory to improve its lead in the all-time series to 51-32-1.
The downfall of UCLA as a potential national title contender has coincided with Brett Hundley's fall from the Heisman Trophy conversation. Although he has completed 72.2 percent of his pass attempts this season, Hundley has only thrown for 1,526 yards and 11 touchdowns, to go with three interceptions. Against Oregon, Hundley completed 26-of-37 attempts for 216 yards, two scores and an interception, although he showed off his skill on the ground, tallying 89 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Speaking of the ground game, Paul Perkins played one of his best games of the season against Oregon, racking up 190 yards on 22 attempts. Perkins is now second in the Pac-12 in rushing yards (730) and attempts (116), although he has only scored three rushing touchdowns.
Also starring for the unit is wide receiver Jordan Payton, as leads the way in receptions (37), receiving yards (552) and touchdown grabs (five). He also is among the top-10 players in the league in each category. Devin Fuller (26 receptions, 227 yards, TD) is a reliable second option.
UCLA's defense has also taken a step back from last season. The Bruins are allowing 28.5 points and 435.5 yards of total offense per game. A major weakness has been their inability to create pressure at the line of scrimmage, as they are last in the league in sacks (seven) and tackles for loss (30).
Eric Kendricks (68 tackles) is still a tackling machine, and Myles Jack (47 tackles) has been consistent while starting all six games.
Cal, normally an offensive power, was shut down by Washington's defense last time out. The Golden Bears were held to a season-low in points (seven) and total yards (368). On the season, they are averaging 42.8 points and 518.3 yards per game, ranking second in the league in the former.
Jared Goff, who was fresh off a 527-yard, five-TD effort against Washington State, was much less potent against the Huskies. He threw for 304 yards on 35- of-51 passing, but did not add to his touchdown total, which remains at 22. He was sacked a season-high four times in the game. In all, he has 2,179 yards and only three interceptions in hitting 65.5 percent of his throws.
While the passing game was muted compared to its normal output, Daniel Lasco put forth a decent effort on the ground, finishing with 71 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He now has 579 yards and four scores on 83 carries. He may continue to get more work if Khalfani Muhammad misses time once again.
Bryce Treggs (29 receptions, 360 yards, five TDs), Trevor Davis (18 receptions, 331 yards, three TDs), Chris Harper (20 receptions, 305 yards, three TDs) and Kenny Lawler (25 receptions, 299 yards, five TDs) make up a deep and versatile receiving corps.
Cal received some devastating news earlier in the week when it was announced that safety Griffin Piatt will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. It is a terrible loss for the Golden Bears, as Piatt is tied for the Pac-12 lead in interceptions (three) and ranks second in passes defended (nine). He is also the team-leader in tackles (32.5). The news is even worse considering the Golden Bears rank last in the conference in total defense (518.2 ypg).
It may be time to hit the panic button for Jim Mora's squad, as the Bruins are treading water in the Pac-12 title race. They absolutely need to win this weekend and that motivation could prove to be beneficial. Cal has been an entertaining and surprising team this season, but clearly has to improve on defense, a task that will be difficult without Piatt.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 34, California 27Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 18, 3:30 p.m. (ET)