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Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Face UCLA Saturday Night

Cal needs to beat Bruins this week and USC next week to become bowl-eligible

Two hot quarterbacks will face off when Cal plays UCLA Saturday night in Pasadena.

UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Cal’s Chase Garbers were both impressive in blowout wins last week, and Cal head coach Justin Wilcox talks about the problems Thompson-Robinson poses in the video atop this story.

This is the final regular-season game for UCLA, while Cal has one more game against USC in Berkeley next week. The Bears need to win this game as well as next week’s game against USC to become bowl-eligible.

---Cal conceivably could get a bowl berth with a 5-7 record. Click here to see how that might be possible---

Here are the key facts for this year’s Big Game:

CAL (4-6, 3-4 Pac-12) vs. UCLA (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12)

SITE: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: FS1 – Aaron Goldsmith (Play-By-Play), Mark Helfrich (Analyst)

RADIO: KGO 810 AM -- Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (sideline reporter).

BETTING LINE: UCLA is favored by 6.5 points as of Friday; over/under is 58 points.

WEATHER FORECAST: It will be sunny in Pasadena on Saturday with a high of 78 degrees in the afternoon. But the temperature will drop by game time, with the low on Saturday night getting down to 52 degrees. The skies will remain mostly clear Saturday evening.

CAL-UCLA HISTORY: UCLA leads the alltime series 56-34-1. The Bruins won last year’s game in Pasadena 34-10, and have beaten Cal in six of the past eight meetings. Cal’s last win against UCLA came in 2019, when the Bears won 28-18 in Pasadena. This will be the third straight year the UCLA-Cal game will be played in Pasadena. The 2020 Cal-UCLA game was hastily scheduled one day before the game was played, after both teams’ scheduled opponents the week of Nov. 14-15 could not play because of COVID-19 issues. Cal played the Bruins at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning and the Bears were beaten decisively.

INJURIES: Cal: Cal starting offensive tackle Will Craig will miss his second straight game, and outside linebacker Kuony Deng will miss his ninth consecutive game. Running back Damien Moore will probably play after missing most of last week’s game with an injury, and wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter, who missed last week’s game with an injury, will play if he can operate adequately with protective gear on his arm.

UCLA: No key Bruins players are expected to be out.

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CAL STORYLINES: The Bears have won three of their past four games, and they need to win this game against UCLA and a Dec. 4 home game against USC to become bowl-eligible . . . Cal’s only loss in the past four games was a 10-3 defeat against Arizona when 10 starters, including quarterback Chase Garbers, were unavailable because of COVID issues . . . Cal is coming off its best offensive game of the season when it rolled up a Big Game-record 636 yards of offense in a 41-11 victory over Stanford . . . Cal leads the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing 122.0 rushing yards per game, but the Bears will be challenged by UCLA’s strong running game. . . . Quarterback Chase Garbers has been outstanding in recent games. In his last three games – all Cal wins – he has completed 69.1% of his passes for 733 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception, and he also ran for 213 yards . . . Running back Christopher Brooks has improved as the season has gone along. He rushed for a season-high 131 yards last week against Stanford, and is listed as the starter this week, ahead of Damien Moore. Brooks had just 83 yards in Cal’s first four games combined. He has 414 yards in his six games since then. . . .Wide receiver Trevon Clark has become the Bears’ big-play receiver. He is averaging 20.83 yards per reception and has four touchdown catches. . . . Cal committed two turnovers against Stanford, but the Bears still rank tied for sixth nationally in fewest turnovers with just eight . . . The Golden Bears lead the Pac-12 and are 11th nationally in turnover margin with a plus-9 margin.

UCLA STORYLINES: UCLA has won two straight and is coming off an impressive 62-33 victory over rival USC when the Bruins rolled up 609 yards of offense. . . . The Bruins are already bowl-eligible and they have been eliminated from Pac-12 title possibilities, so, technically, they have nothing to play for except a more prestigious bowl bid . . . Bruins head coach Chip Kelly reportedly has been in danger of being fired after this season, although the big win over rival USC may have cooled his hot seat . . . The Bruins lead the Pac-12 in scoring at 36.2 points per game, and they are second in total offense . . . Defensively, UCLA ranks second in the Pac-12 against the run, but they are last in the conference against the pass . . . Elusive quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been outstanding recently and has become a contender for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. He leads the Pac-12 in passer rating, has thrown 18 touchdown passes, and has run for 507 yards and nine touchdowns. Last week against USC, Thompson-Robinson completed 16-of-22 passes for 349 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, and ran for 46 yards and two scores. . . . Running back Zach Charbonnet is second in the Pac-12 in rushing with 1,031 yards, and his season-high167 yards rushing last week against USC was his sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season. . . . Wide receiver Kyle Philips is a big-play receiver who is also a dangerous punt returner.

---Sam Connon of All Bruins answers five questions about UCLA---

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Chase Garbers (leads the Pac-12 in total offense, particularly productive recently); RB Christopher Brooks (season-high 131 rushing yards last week); OLB Marqez Bimage (7.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles); OLB Cameron Goode (6.0 sacks); WRs Trevon Clark (13 receiving yards on 3 catches last week); CB Lu-Magia Hearns III (freshman had 1 interception, 8 pass breakups last week in breakout performance)

UCLA PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (dual-threat QB leads Pac-12 in passer rating); RB Zach Charbonnet (1,031 rushing yards this season); WR Kyle Philips (8 TD receptions, 25.4 yard per punt return); TE Greg Dulcich (36 receptions, 4 TDs); DB Qwuantrezz Knight (61 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss).

CAL STATISTICS: Click here

CAL GAME NOTES, DEPTH CHART: Click here

UCLA STATISTICS: Click here

UCLA GAME NOTES, DEPTH CHART: Click here

JAKE'S PICK: Cal 28, UCLA 24

JEFF’S PICK: UCLA 33, Cal 31

Cover photo of UCLA head coach Chip Kelly Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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