BERKELEY, Calif. - Two teams seeking their first Pac-12 victory meet Saturday when UCLA visits California, which has dropped back-to-back games following a 3-0 start. Cal committed four second-half turnovers in last week’s 24-17 loss to Arizona, while UCLA remained winless despite posting an improved effort in a 31-24 loss to Washington.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Cal -7
Cal started its third different quarterback of the season in the loss to Arizona as Brandon McIlwain played the entire game and was 32-for-43 for a career-best 315 yards and added 20 carries for 107 yards and two scores. McIlwain has seven turnovers in the past two games but is expected to get the start again Saturday against a young UCLA team that is 0-5 for the first time since 1943. Bruins coach Chip Kelly was encouraged by the play of Dorian Thompson-Robinson after the freshman quarterback set career highs with 272 passing yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Washington. Thompson-Robinson figures to be tested by an impressive Cal defense that has allowed 331.4 yards of total offense and 24.2 points per game.
ABOUT UCLA (0-5, 0-2 Pac-12)
Senior defensive back Adarius Pickett had a career-high 16 tackles against Washington and ranks second in the conference with an average of 12.2 tackles per game. “Pick just keeps getting better each week,” Kelly told reporters. “He brings a lot of energy, a lot of juice. He’s a really, really smart football player.” Junior Joshua Kelley has emerged as the Bruins’ lead running back after averaging 6.3 yards on 20 carries against the Huskies and setting career highs for both receiving yards (39) and rushing yards (125).
ABOUT CAL (3-2, 0-2)
The Bears’ opportunistic defense is led by linebackers Evan Weaver and Jordan Kunaszyk, a senior who ranks first in the Pac-12 and second in the nation in solo tackles per game (7.8) and is 24 shy of 200 for his career. Ashtyn Davis ranks first in the Pac-12 in kick return yardage at 28.0 yards per return, but the Bears need more consistency on offense to capitalize on the good field position. Running back Patrick Laird has struggled to build on his success from last season but could have ample opportunities against the vulnerable UCLA run defense.
1. Cal has won its last eight games against UCLA in Berkeley dating back to 2000.
2. UCLA’s previous five opponents are a combined 25-3 entering this week.
3. Cal starting S Jaylinn Hawkins will be out for the first half due to a targeting penalty in last week’s game against Arizona.
PREDICTION: California 24, UCLA 20
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