The fifth regular season of the Chip Kelly era is coming to an end.
UCLA Football No. 18 (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) plays Cal (4-7, 3-5 Pac-12) at California Memorial Stadium on Friday. The Bruins go into the game as 10-point favorites after last-minute losses to back-to-back Arizona and USC, while the Golden Bears freshly clinched a rivalry win over Stanford.
All Bruins makes his choices about who will win, what the score will be, and how the game will play out, courtesy of Managing Editor Sam Connon and contributing writer Benjamin Royer.
Sam Connon, Editor-in-Chief
Forecast: UCLA 38, Cal 24
As tempting as it may be to pick the Golden Bears in this one, I don’t think the Bruins will choke on this one.
UCLA has done very well against bad teams over the last few years under coach Chip Kelly — that Arizona game aside — and Cal is a really bad team. And even during this current two-game sled, the Bruins have only been upended by high-profile offense.
The Golden Bears don’t have one of those, and Jack Plummer is a far cry from Caleb Williams or even Jayden de Laura. Even though the Bruins’ defense has deteriorated over the past month without defense coordinator Bill McGovern, it shouldn’t give way much to a Cal offense that scores just 23.5 points per game.
Plummer has one of the lower passer ratings in the Pac-12, while running back Jadyn Ott has yet to reach the heights he has in non-conference play. It wouldn’t be shocking for either of them to see their numbers go up, but not to the point where they could actually beat that UCLA offense in a track meet.
All the Bruins have to do is hold the ball and control the pace and momentum of the game. In fact, they haven’t been able to for the past few weeks, so there’s cause for concern on that front.
However, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet are real superstars, and they’re sure to bounce back after last week. Thompson-Robinson, in particular, won’t throw three picks like he did against USC.
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The veteran quarterback and ball carrier in the backfield alongside him will once again be the engine of UCLA’s success and likely help offset another subpar defensive performance.
Benjamin Royer, contributing author
Forecast: UCLA 31, Cal 28
This season-ending matchup brings nightmarish energy unlike any other game the Bruins have played in 2022.
After back-to-back home games against Arizona and USC, and now at Memorial Stadium against a Pac-12 bottom feeder in Cal, chip Kelly’s mood is grim.
For the sake of the players, I’m giving UCLA the edge over the Golden Bears. Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet will gear up for their very last match of the regular season with the Bruins.
Consistency was a strong theme on offense. At Westwood, the quarterback-running-back duo have become fan favorites, while the dynamic athletes have serious prospects for long pro careers.
However, Cal will hold his own on Friday. Freshman running back Jaydn Ott could soon be on the transfer portal when the Golden Bears part ways with coach Justin Wilcox, and the rising star could be on the Bruins’ wish list when the offseason arrives.
UCLA’s end in 2022 may have been disappointing, but the blue-and-golds could still claim their ninth win of the season for the first time in eight seasons.
The Bruins need a win to end the campaign on a high note and head into bowl season with momentum.
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