It was close for a half.
But UCLA outscored Cal 25-0 in the second half on its way to a 42-14 runaway victory that ended the Bears' long-shot bowl dreams.
Cal (4-7, 3-5 Pac-12) closes out the season next Saturday at home against USC in a game that was postponed three weeks due to the Bears' COVID-19 outbreak.
Win or lose in that one, the Bears' season is over.
The Bruins (8-4, 5-3) totally dominated the second half. Cal had just 9 yards and one first down before UCLA had extended its 17-14 halftime lead to the final 28-point margin.
Chase Garbers, pressured all night, was sacked four times, passed for just 125 yards and was intercepted twice.
BOWL UPDATE: There are now enough teams with six victories to fill the 82 spots in 41 bowl games without looking to five-win teams. So Cal must win tonight and a week from now at home vs. USC to reach six wins and be in the conversation for a bowl bid. No backdoor entry into a bowl game for the Bears.
Here's our game thread:
11:19 3rd Q: The Bruins extend their 17-14 halftime lead on a 29-yard TD pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson to tight end Greg Dolcich, who beats tight coverage from LB Nate Rutchena and makes an impressive over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone. The three-play, 71-yard scoring drive also included a 20-yard run by Zach Charbonnet and a pass interference penalty on Cal freshman CB Lu-Magia Hearns on a pass intended for Dolcich. UCLA 24, Cal 14.
2:25 3rd Q: UCLA has its largest lead after a 46-yard FG by Barr-Mira, capping a 13-play, 52-yard drive. The Bruins have scored 17 straight points since Cal led 14-10. UCLA now has 292 total yards, including 188 on the ground at 5.9 yards per clip. UCLA 27, Cal 14.
END OF THIRD QUARTER: Cal managed just 20 yards in the quarter and UCLA extended its 17-14 halftime lead to a 13-point margin. Total yards: UCLA 302, Cal 171. First downs: UCLA 19-10. Garbers finding no rhythm against UCLA pressure and is 9 for 17 for 77 yards with two INTs. DTR playing free and is 15 for 22 for 113 yards with 2 TDs. UCLA has run for 189 yards against a Cal defense that was allowing just 122 per game - best in the Pac-12. UCLA 27, Cal 14.
13:10 4th Qtr: This game is pretty much over. Zach Charbonnet powers in from the 1-yard line for his 13th rushing touchdown of the season. Thompson-Robinson then throws to Charbonnet for the 2-point conversion. UCLA's run game has shredded the Cal defense: 36 rushes, 238 yards - 6.6 per attempt. UCLA 35, Cal 14.
9:33 1st Q: Nicholas Barr-Mira kicks a 41-yard field goal after the Cal defense stopped the Bruins on third-and-5 from the Bears' 23-yard line. Dorian Thompson-Robinson's 24-yard completion to TE Greg Dolcich was the big play on the 9-play, 47-yard drive. UCLA 3, Cal 0.
8:00 1st Q: Cal has gone three-and-out on each of its first two possessions, squandering a 58-yard kickoff return to the UCLA 41 by Nikko Remigio on the latter. Bruins take over at their own 35 after Garbers throws incomplete on fourth-and-4. UCLA 3, Cal 0.
3:15 1st Q: Garbers is picked off by UCLA defensive back Jay Shaw, who returns it 18 yards to the Cal 40. UCLA 3, Cal 0.
END OF FIRST QUARTER: The Bruins have second-and 1 at the Cal 3-yard line. First-quarter stats: UCLA 114 total yards, Cal 46. First downs are 6-2 for the Bruins. Garbers is 2-for-5 for 18 yards with 1 INT. DTR is 5-for-8 for 35 yards. UCLA 3, Cal 0.
14:10 2nd Q: On third-and-2 from the 4, DTR uses play action to set up a 4-yard TD pass to Kyle Phillips, who scores his ninth TD of the season. RB Zach Charbonnet appeared to fumble before going to the ground on the previous play, but Cal did not ask for an official review. FS1 reports that officials ruled Charbonnet's forward progress was stopped before he fumbled. UCLA 10, Cal 0.
8:58 2nd Q: Christopher Brooks scores on a 14-yard pitch play and Cal is on the board. The drive appeared stalled before it started but Garbers completed a 26-yard pass to Remigio on third-and-13 from the Bears' 22 and the march was on. Brooks carried six times for 32 yards on the drive and Marcel Dancy had a 14-yard burst. UCLA 10, Cal 7.
7:00 2nd Qtr: Chase Garbers scores on a keeper on a first-and-goal from the 1 as the Bears take advantage of a muffed kickoff return by UCLA's Kazmier Allen. Allen, who had a 100-yard KO return vs. USC last week, never controlled the ball and Cameron Goode recovered for Cal at the 13. On third-and-10 from the 13, Garbers completed a 12-yard pass to Kekoa Crawford to the 1. Then Garbers used a fake to Brooks and took it in himself. Cal 14, UCLA 10.
0:26 2nd Q: Kazmier Allen, former high school sprint champ who fumbled on the kickoff earlier, scores on an 8-yard jet sweep around left end and the Bruins regain the lead. UCLA goes 64 yards in 13 plays. UCLA 17, Cal 14.
HALFTIME: Garbers threw his second interception with 8 seconds left as the Bears tried to make something out of nothing. But DTR's heave toward the end zone was broken up by Daniel Scott, nowhere near a completion.
Halftime stats: UCLA had 181 yards in the half, but just 67 in the second quarter. Cal had 151 yards, 105 of them in the second period. First downs were 12-9 for UCLA. Garbers, under heavy pressure at times, was 6 for 11 for 69 yards with two picks, and also had a TD run. Thompson-Robinson was 11 for 15 for 63 yards and a TD. Bruins will get the second-half kickoff. UCLA 17, Cal 14.
This was expected to be Cal’s final game on its regular-season schedule.
Now the Bears (4-6, 3-4 Pac-12) are hoping to play twice more after tonight’s game vs. UCLA (7-4, 5-3) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Cal is chasing bowl eligibility and the most direct route to the postseason requires wins over the Bruins and over USC back in Berkeley next Saturday.
There is also a chance the Bears could get a bowl spot with a 5-7 record, but that only happens if there aren’t 84 teams with at least six wins to fill the 42 bowl games. Here’s more on how that process could work.
Coach Justin Wilcox, in the video at the top of this story, says there would be very little talk this week about the bowl picture.
Cal will need to reverse recent history to get past the Bruins. UCLA won last year in Pasadena and has claimed six of the past eight meetings.
UCLA wins the coin flip and elects to defer. Cal gets the ball first.
Here’s some pregame reading as you await tonight’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff on FS1:
For our game preview, click here.
Freshman cornerback Lu-Magia Hearns has made a big contribution perhaps sooner than expected
Senior Marcel Dancy stayed ready and helped Cal beat Stanford 41-11 in last week’s 124th Big Game
Here’s our conversation with a UCLA beat writer, who answers 5 Questions about the Bruins
Changes played a role in Cal’s defense making big improvement from the first month of the season
Check back for pregame updates and our in-game thread.
Cover photo of Cal tight end Jake Tonges by Stan Szeto, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo