First look: UCLA at Cal

California quarterback Davis Webb throws against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. California won 28-23. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

California quarterback Davis Webb throws against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. California won 28-23. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

UCLA Bruins (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) vs. Cal Bears (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12)
Kickoff: 4 p.m. PT, Memorial Stadium
TV: ESPN2
Radio: AM 570

Scouting report: Both teams are playing for pride on Saturday night. The Bears are on a four-game losing streak, having just lost their seventh straight rivalry game to Stanford, 45-31 at home. Despite graduate transfer quarterback Davis Webb’s near seamless transition into the Jared Goff’s vacant starting position, the Bears are hamstrung by one of the worst defenses in the Pac-12. Cal is last in the conference in scoring defense (45.5 points allowed per game) and 11th in yards allowed per game (541.8). UCLA’s anemic rushing offense could get some much-needed help as Cal’s rushing defense allows 290.1 yards per game, the second worst total in the country. Continue reading

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UCLA 2016 schedule preview: Cal

UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace (51) sacks California quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the first half of a NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace (51) sacks California quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the first half of a NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Wrapping up UCLA’s 2016 schedule preview, here is a breakdown of the Bruins’ final opponent, California.

UCLA at California
Sat. Nov. 26 | California Memorial Stadium

2015 in review

Cal played in its first bowl game under head coach Sonny Dykes last year, beating Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Bears, two years removed from a one-win season, finished at 8-5 overall (4-5 Pac-12). UCLA beat Cal 40-24 on Oct. 22 in a banner day for quarterback Josh Rosen. The freshman was 34-for-47 passing for 399 yards and three touchdowns. His 34 completions set a single-game school record. On defense, the Bruins sacked Cal quarterback Jared Goff five times. Continue reading

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After loss at Cal, UCLA won’t have shot at winning conference record

After a 75-63 loss to Cal, UCLA coach Steve Alford is now 9-17 in Pac-12 road games in three seasons. (Steve McCrank/Staff)

After a 75-63 loss to Cal, UCLA coach Steve Alford is now 9-17 in Pac-12 road games in three seasons. (Steve McCrank/Staff)

Against the Pac-12’s stingiest defense, UCLA needed nearly five minutes to finally make its first field goal. The Bruins never erased that deficit.

A 75-63 loss at Cal on Thursday kept Steve Alford at just two Pac-12 road wins this season, and knocked him down to an uninspiring 9-17 record during his UCLA tenure. With just three games left in the regular season, the Bruins (15-13, 6-9) are now assured their a non-winning conference record for just the fifth time since 1978 — when the league expanded to 10 teams and an 18-game schedule.

The more immediate ramifications are the almost certain erasure of the Bruins’ chances at the NCAA Tournament. If so, it comes in a year that might see the Pac-12 produce as many as seven March Madness bids, the most in the league’s 12-team era.

While losing at Haas Pavilion wasn’t exactly a case of the Bruins playing down to an inferior team, they also didn’t exactly help themselves. They missed their first five shots, finally breaking through on a floater by junior Isaac Hamilton. Throw in three early turnovers, and that meant a 13-1 game-opening run by Cal — not the type of cushion you want to give to a team that is undefeated at home. Continue reading

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Steve Alford: Center Tony Parker will stay in UCLA’s starting lineup

Tony Parker returned to UCLA’s starting lineup last Saturday, helping the Bruins to a 77-53 win over Colorado. The senior center will keep that role for at least one more game.

Steve Alford said Tuesday that he will keep the 6-foot-9 Parker in his starting five for Thursday’s 6 p.m. tipoff at Cal — relegating 7-foot sophomore Thomas Welsh to the bench. The third-year head coach emphasized that his changes over the last month have not been made to penalize either player.

“Whether it’s Tony or Tom, it’s not a discipline or punishment standpoint,” Alford said.

He added that he is also open to playing both Parker and Welsh together again in a “big-big” lineup if the matchup proves beneficial. The combination, which UCLA used for most of the season before making sophomore Jonah Bolden its starting power forward, gave the team some offensive advantages at the cost of its defense.

Regardless of who Alford plays, he’ll need to figure out how to beat a Cal team that is 16-0 at Haas Pavilion this season. The Bears hold opponents to just 38.8 percent from the field, easily the lowest mark in the Pac-12, and also rank first in the conference in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy. Alford praised their athleticism and their size, pointing out the presence of star freshman Ivan Rabb as well as 7-footers Kameron Rooks and Kingsley Okoroh.

“They really just tee it up one-on-one and say, ‘You’re not gonna beat us one-on-one,'” Alford said. “That’s a great thing to have, because you don’t see them having to help a lot. And because they don’t help a lot, they don’t give up a lot of open looks. They make open looks hard on you.”

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