First look: California Golden Bears

UCLA Bruins (4-2, 1-2) at California Golden Bears (4-2, 2-2)
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 18, 12:30 p.m. PT, Memorial Stadium (Berkeley, Calif.)
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (Bob Wischusen, Matt Millen, Quint Kessenich)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Coach: Sonny Dykes first season at Cal was an utter disaster as the Bears won just one game: a 37-30 home decision over Portland State, a FCS team that finished 6-6.

All but one of their 11 losses were decided by a double-digit margin, with the lone exception being a 33-28 loss to Arizona in front of a season-low crowd of 41,874. Take out that game, and the Bears lost 10 by an average of nearly four touchdowns (27.7 points). After Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour stepped down/was forced out this summer, everyone started adding coals beneath Dykes’ tinder seat.

Six games into his second season, his job looks completely safe. Dykes’ “Bear Raid” offense powered a surprising a 4-1 start, and now ranks 10th nationally in scoring (42.8) and 16th in yards per play (6.77). While Cal still sits near the bottom of several defensive categories, there are flashes of hope in Berkeley — even if a 31-7 loss to Washington dulled some of the shine.

Key players:

QB Jared Goff, So., 6-4, 210 — 152/232, 2,179 yards, 22 TD, 3 INT
– Goff isn’t being asked to throw as much as he did as a freshman, but he’s become much more efficient. His 9.4 yards per attempt marks almost a three-yard improvement, and ties Brett Hundley and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace for ninth in the FBS.

WR Bryce Treggs, Jr., 5-11, 185 — 29 catches, 360 yards, 5 TD
– Cal has a lot of talented pass-catchers. Treggs is the only one with multiple 100-yard games this season. He and Goff are the Bears’ only two returning All-Pac-12 honorable mentions from 2013.

WR Trevor Davis, Jr., 6-2, 180 — 18 catches, 331 yards, 3 TD, 7 kickoff returns, 281 return yards, 2 TD
– Though he only ranks fourth on the team in receptions, three of his catches have gained at least 50 yards.

RB Daniel Lasco, Jr., 6-0, 210 — 83 carries, 479 rush yards, 4 TD, 15 catches, 186 receiving yards, 2 TD
– Not as flashy as injured speedster Khalfani Muhammad, Lasco has nevertheless been quietly effective with a touchdown in four of his last five games.

DE Brennan Scarlett, Jr., 6-4, 260 — 8.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 1 forced fumble
– Arguably the Bears’ best defensive player, the oft-injured Scarlett sprained his knee against Washington State and could miss his second straight game.

Scouting report: Cal has allowed opponents to pass for 2,412 yards and 24 touchdowns — ranking 127th and 128th in the FBS, respectively. Now, that already porous pass defense has lost safety Griffin Piatt for the season to a knee injury. The sophomore led the Bears in tackles (32.5), interceptions (3), pass breakups (6) and passes defended (9). … Running back Khalfani Muhammad is sidelined with a broken thumb. He has 170 yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries. … The Bears rank 10th in the conference in turnover margin (-0.50), ahead of Stanford — surprisingly — and Washington State.

Line: UCLA favored by 7 points.

RELATED:
» Jim Mora tried to shoulder the blame for UCLA’s disappointing start.
» UCLA will try to rebound from back-to-back losses for the second straight season, this time at a place it hasn’t won since 1998.