Back in July, UCLA looked at its preseason ranking and sneered. Despite returning a talented defense and almost every offensive starter, the Bruins were picked to finish third in the Pac-12 media poll.
Six games and several injuries later, the team stands at fourth in the division, licking its wounds after back-to-back losses to Arizona State and Stanford. Another loss could erase whatever chance they have left at claiming a spot in the Pac-12 title game.
Here’s what to watch when UCLA hosts No. 20 Cal today at 6 p.m.
When UCLA has the ball
Since his stunning introduction to the college football world, Josh Rosen’s numbers have come back to earth. In his last five games, he has completed less than 55 percent of his passes and averaged below 7.0 yards per attempt. While he’s looked better than those numbers suggest, his penchant for unforced errors could prove especially costly against Cal.
Rosen has thrown seven interceptions in his last five games, with five coming against BYU and Stanford. Those two teams have combined for 13 interceptions this season.
The Bears are tied for fifth in the FBS with 12 picks. That number has helped mask some of the deficiencies in the Cal secondary, which ranks in the bottom half of the conference in opposing completion percentage (57.7) and yards allowed per attempt (7.2).
In other words, Rosen and the rest of the Bruins need to avoid beating themselves. Continue reading