Bear Trap — UCLA is a 24-point favorite over lowly 1-4 Cal this week, with the Bruins’ two subsequent games being at #5 Stanford and #2 Oregon, making this Saturday night’s game the ultimate “trap” game
On paper, UCLA should destroy the Golden Bears… and that is the problem. When a team knows that they are vastly more talented than their opponent, they feel invincible, and complacency inevitably creeps in. Statistically, the Bears have the second- or third-worst Defense in the entire Country, so everyone assumes that the high-powered Bruin Offense will be able to score at will, especially in the friendly confines of the Rose Bowl. But all it takes is a couple of fluke-y Turnovers, or dropped passes, or (god-forbid) an injury, and everything changes.
Back-up QB Jerry Neuheisel has looked good so far in practice, but he is no Brett Hundley, so if Hundley goes down, you can take that 24-point spread and throw it out the window. Last week, the Bruins lost their Starting Tailback Jordon James, who will probably miss the Cal game, and they also lost their Starting Offensive Lineman Torian White, who will miss the whole rest of the season. The injuries definitely effected the Offense, which did not click on all cylinders after those star players were gone. One or two more casualties, and the talent gap between the Bruins and Bears diminishes in a hurry, despite the fact that the Bears are already injury-riddled themselves.
But even barring injuries, the Bruins are no sure thing. First of all, Cal BEAT UCLA just this past season, and beat them BADLY. Cal lost their Defensive Coordinator since then, but he landed at SC, who have never given up more points than they did last week, so how much of a loss for the Bears was his departure? The Bears will be desperate for a season-salvaging victory, and they will have some confidence because most of them remember squashing the Bruins last year.
Of course, the Bruins remember getting killed in Berkeley, so they have the revenge factor working for them, and that SHOULD cancel out any complacency they should have. But it isn’t the mental issues that present the biggest problem — It’s Cal’s explosive Offense, led by Freshman phenom QB Jared Goff. Goff has been tearing up opposing Defenses all season, including undefeated Ohio State, averaging over 450 yards Passing in his 4 full games (he exited one other game after throwing only 7 passes). Four-hundred and fifty yards a game?? That’s unheard of! UCLA’s Defensive Secondary came up huge against Utah, but they are still young and relatively inexperienced, and vulnerable to a wicked hurler like Goff.
Very, very few Bruin fans will heed a warning about Cal presenting a challenge, all because of their faith in UCLA’s Coach Mora. The Bruins’ Coaching staff has everyone’s confidence. The fans believe that Mora will have them mentally and physically prepared for the game at hand. But Mora was the Coach last year too, when they were completely UN-loaded for Bear. Even the best staffs are not flawless. And the excitement of facing undefeated Stanford, and then undefeated Oregon, is too palpable to ignore, forcing the Bruins to be looking ahead.
So be prepared for ANYTHING on Saturday night, as the (probably) SOLD OUT stadium will be rocking, and the Bruins will be rolling, unless something goes terribly wrong. There are no sure things in College Football — Stanford and Appalachian State both won, against u$c and Michigan respectively, as much bigger underdogs than Cal is this weekend.
The only sure thing that I can guarantee you is that you will enjoy many of the following 41 photos of the UCLA Spirit Squad, as I try to share all the good shots from the last home game, before the NEXT home game. And I’ll have 40 more before Saturday.