On Saturday at the Rose Bowl, two teams will meet. Or is it four? There's one UCLA, the Bruins who started 3-0 with home victories over San Diego State and Kansas State and with a road victory at Tennessee. There's the other UCLA, the Bruins who have slipped to 3-2, with consecutive losses at Stanford and at home against Oregon. Likewise, the two-face Cal Bears come into town with a similar case of Jekyll and Hyde. Cal is also 3-2, riding a two-game losing streak in which the Bears have been outscored 72-6. “I know Jeff's spent probably the last 10 days thinking about it,” UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said of Cal coach Jeff Tedford. “I do know that they're talented. I know they have a great deal of pride, and we're expecting their best.”
Even if UCLA is at its best, too, it might not be so close. In the Bruins' three wins, they've scored 75 points. In Cal's three victories, the Bears racked up 146. UCLA will have to close the gap after consecutive games in which the defense has allowed an opposing rusher over 120 yards. It doesn't get any easier now, with Bear back Jahvid Best and his 514 yards and nine touchdowns. “I thought defensively, we played terrifically probably 90 percent of the time,” Neuheisel said. “Ten percent of the time ... Chuck Bullough said seven plays led to 170 yards of offense. Most of the times it's because we didn't tackle and wrap up. That's a huge lesson as we go into this game. If you don't get your arms around them, they'll make you pay, and pay dearly.” The Bruins have not made the opposition pay, both short and long, since defeating Kansas State 23-9 in Week 3. They've stalled when they need to surge, they've come up just short when they needed to get just a foot more, and they've looked every bit their age.
“Sometimes we move along scheme-wise and try to take what we see are opportunities, but are we ready to execute that stuff?” Neuheisel said. “Sometimes when you've had more experience, you can point to a time earlier in a guy's career. Now, we don't have that luxury. But at the end of the day, it's always about execution.”
Bumps and Bruises: Neuheisel said senior linebacker Reggie Carter (sprained knee), senior defensive end Korey Bosworth (bruised ribs), redshirt freshman running back Johnathan Franklin (sprained ankle) and sophomore safety Glenn Love (sprained ankle) were all day-to-day.
“They are going to make the game, but I think we'll have to nurse them along,” Neuheisel said.”
Locke'd Up: It says a lot about an offense when a team's best player is its punter, yet redshirt freshman Jeff Locke had a standout performance, booming seven punts for 353 yards, an average of 50.4 per attempt, with one ball inside the Oregon 1-yard line. Locke had a 77-yard punt in the third quarter, UCLA's longest since Chris Sailer's 81-yard boot against Washington State in 1995.