UCLA vs Cal Odds, Predictions: Bet Bruins in Pac-12 Clash
eith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images. Pictured: UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
UCLA vs Cal Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
UCLA travels north to face Cal on Friday as both teams look to put a punctation mark on their respective regular seasons.
The air was let out of what was UCLA's (8-3, 5-3) remaining Pac-12 title hopes last week in a track-meet type of game against crosstown rival USC. The Trojan's three-point victory provided the Bruins with their third conference loss, eliminating them from the championship race.
It was a better weekend for Cal (4-7, 2-6), which ended a six-game losing streak with its 27-20 victory over Stanford. The Bears are looking for consecutive conference wins for the first time since October of last year.
With UCLA's season coming to an "end" last weekend, is it in a vulnerable letdown spot against Cal? Or will the Bears' offensive inconsistencies be too much to overcome against a solid UCLA team? Let's find out.
UCLA needed a win over USC and a good bit of outside help for this week's matchup with Cal to have any meaning. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they came up agonizingly short in the Trojans' 48-45 win.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson continued to play like a mad man on fire, accounting for nearly 400 yards of offense and six touchdowns while becoming UCLA's all-time touchdown leader in the process.
It came at a physical cost, as he took several big hits. However, head coach Chip Kelly indicated this week that DTR was a "full go" at practice and would suit up for this regular-season finale.
Thompson-Robinson and the offense haven't been the problem for UCLA. The Bruins are one of only six teams in the country to average north of 500 yards of total offense per game, buoyed by the nation's sixth-best rushing attack that puts up 236.8 yards per game.
Only four teams score more than the Bruins' 40.0 points per game.
The defense, however, has been the team's Achilles' heel. The Bruins rank 115th and 117th in Defensive Run Success and Pass Success, respectively. Six of UCLA's last seven opponents have surpassed 400 yards of total defense, including allowing a whopping 649 yards to USC last week.
Cal's strength on offense — albeit an inconsistent strength — is with Jack Plummer and the passing game.
UCLA has allowed 352.5 passing yards per game and 13 total passing touchdowns against the top-four passing offenses in the conference. Keeping Plummer — who is fifth in the Pac-12 with 254.6 yards per game — off his game will be key.
If there's such a thing as saving face in a losing season void of a bowl appearance, Cal did exactly that with its one-score win over rival Stanford last week in the Big Game.
The victory alone, however, may be a little misleading. Cal needed a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback that was aided by multiple Cardinal turnovers for any of it to be possible.
Last week also marked the first for a slight regime change, as offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and offensive line coach Angus McClure had been fired the week prior.
The change didn't yield immediate dividends, though, as the Bears managed just six points on their first six trips across midfield before eventually running into better luck in the fourth quarter.
Plummer has been decent at having to be the catalyst of the offense throughout the season, but turnovers have been an increasing issue as the season has dragged on.
The former Purdue signal-caller has thrown at least one interception (six total) in each of Cal's last four games, which has also coincided with his two highest yardage outputs of the season (406 vs. USC and 280 vs. Stanford).
Plummer has been asked to push the issue more, as the Bears' ground game has failed to get going. Cal ranks last in the Pac-12 with 99.3 yards rushing per game, which is a bit surprising considering Jaydn Ott rushed for 274 yards in September against Arizona.
Since then, however, the Bears hadn't eclipsed the 100-yard threshold until last week, ending a six-game streak.
Defensively, no team in the Pac-12 allows more passing yards per game than Cal's 287.7. The Bruins are more of a run threat, but Thompson-Robinson is no slouch as a passer either.
In terms of Success Rate, the Bears are only marginally better defensively against the run (119th).
They've allowed at least one rushing touchdown in every game this season and have held only one opponent to fewer than 100 yards rushing.
UCLA vs Cal Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how UCLA and Cal match up statistically:
UCLA Offense vs. Cal Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Cal Offense vs. UCLA Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||80||74|
|Seconds per Play||22.8 (11)||26.3 (60)|
|Rush Rate||54.2% (66)||41.1% (127)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
UCLA vs. Cal Betting Pick
The biggest factor in this game is how much UCLA really wants it. The Bruins offense is a major mismatch for Cal in just about every department, so if UCLA comes to play, it should cover the spread.
Last season, UCLA played Cal to end the season under similar circumstances. The Bruins were eliminated from Pac-12 South contention in the penultimate week of the season by way of a Utah win. The 7-4 Bruins then went about business the next week against Cal, winning by 28 points.
This year, I see the 8-3 Bruins doing nearly the same thing. UCLA's offense should be able to stay right on schedule against this mediocre Bears defense, scoring in its usual neighborhood of 40 points.
Meanwhile, Cal has scored more than 27 points against Power Five competition just twice this season.
I could see UCLA being a little slow out of the gates, but by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, Zach Charbonnet and Thompson-Robinson will be too much.
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