The fifth regular season of the Chip Kelly era is coming to an end.
UCLA Football’s No. 18 (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) takes on Cal (4-7, 3-5 Pac-12) at California Memorial Stadium on Friday. The Bruins enter the game as 10-point favorites after back-to-back last-minute losses to Arizona and USC, while the Golden Bears are coming off a rivalry win over Stanford.
All of the Bruins are making their picks on who will win, what the score will be and how the game will go, courtesy of Editor-in-Chief Sam Connon and Contributing Writer Benjamin Royer.
Sam Connon, Editor
Prediction: UCLA 38, California 24
As appealing as it might be to pick the Golden Bears in this one, I don’t think the Bruins will smother this one.
UCLA has done very well against bad teams in recent years under coach Chip Kelly — with the exception of the game against Arizona — and Cal is a really bad team. And even during this current two-game skid, the Bruins have been upset only by high-powered offenses.
The Golden Bears don’t have one, and Jack Plummer is a far cry from Caleb Williams or even Laura’s Jayden. Even though the Bruins’ defense has deteriorated over the past month without defensive coordinator Bill McGovern, it shouldn’t yield much to a Cal offense that’s scoring just 23.5 points per game.
Plummer has one of the lowest passer ratings in the Pac-12, while running back Jadyn Ott is 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’d really be able to beat that UCLA offense in a track meet.
All the Bruins need to do is keep the ball and control the pace and momentum of the game. They’ve actually been unable to do so for the past few weeks, so there’s cause for concern about that.
However, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet are real superstars, and they should bounce back from last week. Thompson-Robinson, in particular, won’t throw three picks like he did against USC.
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The veteran quarterback and the running back in the backfield next to him will once again be the engine of success for UCLA, and they’ll likely help offset another suboptimal defensive performance.
Benjamin Royer, contributing writer
Prediction: UCLA 31, California 28
This season-ending game 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 having to play at Memorial Stadium against a Pac-12 bottom feeder in Cal, the vibes are bad for Chip Kelly.
I will give UCLA the advantage over the Golden Bears for the good of the players. Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Zach Charbonnet will dress for their very last regular season game with the Bruins.
Consistency has been a strong theme on offense. At Westwood, the quarterback duo have become fan favorites, while dynamic athletes have a real chance of long professional careers.
Cal will hold out on Friday, though. First-year running back Jaydn Ott could soon be in the transfer gate if the Golden Bears part ways with coach Justin Wilcox, and the budding star could be on the Bruins’ wishlist when the offseason rolls around.
UCLA’s end to 2022 may have been disappointing, but the blue and gold could still claim their ninth win of their season for the first time in eight seasons.
The Bruins need a win to end the campaign on a high and emerge with momentum heading into bowl season.
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