UCLA has never lost three straight regular-season games under Jim Mora. To avoid falling into that hole, the Bruins will need to hold off a Cal offense led by star quarterback Jared Goff. The No. 20 Bears are averaging 40.2 points per game after a surprising 5-1 start, and will be eager to win at the Rose Bowl for just the second time in the last 15 years. Connor Letourneau, who covers Cal for the San Francisco Chronicle, answered five questions about the team.
(Here are the questions I answered about the Bruins for the Chronicle.)
1. After suffering its first loss, what does Cal most need to prove against a second-half schedule that looks much more intimidating than the first?
The Bears are trying to prove they can win the Pac-12 North. Though No. 10 Stanford is the clear favorite at this point, No. 20 Cal is very much in contention. The division title would likely come down to the Big Game on Nov. 21 if the Bears can win their next four games over unranked opponents.
To make that happen, they must start stringing together complete performances. Cal’s past four games have been within six points, largely because it has struggled in at least one phase. In its Oct. 10 loss at Utah, for example, uncharacteristic offensive mistakes put the pressure on an inconsistent — albeit much-improved — defense.
2. Jared Goff threw a career-high five interceptions in Salt Lake City. Did Utah do something that other defenses will be able to replicate, or did the quarterback simply have a bad day?
That was an odd performance. The first couple interceptions, which came on a dropped pass and a tipped ball, weren’t necessarily Goff’s fault. Then the takeaways seemed to throw him off-kilter a bit. Continue reading