Weekly Q&A: Cal

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It’s win or go home Friday as the winner between UCLA and Cal at the Rose Bowl clinches bowl eligibility. Both teams are looking for their sixth wins and the Bruins are trying to prepare on a short week amid coaching turmoil. If you have UCLA football questions, leave them in the comments below — or shoot me an email at thnguyen(at)scng(dot)com — and I’ll post answers THURSDAY.

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UCLA links: Jedd Fisch takes the reins

Jedd Fisch (left) celebrates with Josh Rosen after beating Texas A&M on Sunday, Sept. 3. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star News/SCNG)

Jedd Fisch did not envision his first opportunity to be a head coach coming like this.

“We love Coach (Jim) Mora, my family loves Coach Mora, my daughters can’t get enough of him and it’s been a very sad 24 hours,” Fisch said Monday of how he and the team processed Mora’s firing on Sunday.

Fisch is UCLA’s interim head coach tasked with keeping the team together for one more chance at a bowl game. He plans to use Mora as motivation to do so.

“My mind is 100 percent on trying to trying to get our seniors to 6-0 (at home) and to leave Coach Mora’s legacy as one that he was able to get five out of his six teams to bowl games,” Fisch said.

More on Fisch, his new position and how the team took Sunday’s news.

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First look: UCLA vs. Cal

Justin Wilcox, shown speaking at Pac-12 Media Days in July 2017, has Cal challenging for a bowl game during his first season at the helm. (Photo by Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press)

UCLA (5-6, 3-5 Pac-12) vs. Cal (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12)
Friday, Nov. 24 |7:30 p.m. PT | Rose Bowl
TV: Fox Sports 1
Radio: AM 570

Scouting report

Cal was voted to finish last in the Pac-12 North, but the Golden Bears, in their first season under head coach Justin Wilcox, have exceeded many expectations by challenging for bowl eligibility. The winner of Friday’s game reaches the six-game threshold and earns itself a postseason opportunity.

Wilcox, a former defensive coordinator at Washington and USC, helped turn Cal’s defense around quickly this season. The Bears were the Pac-12’s worst scoring defense last season, allowing 42.6 points per game, but have jumped to seventh with 28.3 points per game allowed this year. They forced seven turnovers in their 37-3 upset over Washington State on Oct. 13.

The offense has been inconsistent with redshirt sophomore Ross Bowers at quarterback, but got a boost from running back Patrick Laird last week as he rushed for 153 yards and one touchdown against Stanford in Cal’s rivalry game.

Laird scored a 1-yard touchdown run with 4:02 left in the third against the Cardinal that helped cut the deficit to three points, but both teams were held scoreless in the fourth and Stanford came away with its eighth straight win in the Big Game.

Cal is 11th in the Pac-12 in total offense with 377.8 yards per game. Continue reading “First look: UCLA vs. Cal” »

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