California has made it halfway through coach Sonny Dykes’ first season without beating another FBS team.
After another blowout loss, Dykes focused on the signs that the Golden Bears might be getting better very soon.
Brett Hundley passed for a career-high 410 yards and three touchdowns, and Paul Perkins rushed for an early score in No. 11 UCLA’s 37-10 victory over Cal on Saturday night.
Jared Goff passed for 215 yards in the freshman’s first game since his school-record 504-yard performance, and Daniel Lasco rushed for the Bears’ only touchdown. But the Bear Raid offense didn’t do nearly enough to keep up with Hundley, finishing with 320 yards on 80 offensive plays.
”We’re learning, that’s the thing,” Dykes said. ”We’re a team that hasn’t put a solid football game together all year. Defensively, we played well enough to have a chance, but offensively, we just struggled to execute basic plays.”
Khalfani Muhammad rushed for 63 yards for Cal (1-5, 0-3), which also committed nine penalties and failed to execute in tough offensive situations. The Bears managed just one first down on their first five possessions, falling into a hole they couldn’t escape.
”It’s just something we can’t allow to happen,” Goff said of the Bears’ 4-for-17 effort on third downs. ”Offensively, we got stuff going, but we could never really finish it off. The defense gave us a chance to win, and we didn’t really back them up very well.”
Devin Fuller, Thomas Duarte and Shaq Evans caught touchdown passes as the Bruins (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) grinded out a win over their upstate UC rivals in their final rehearsal for back-to-back road games at Stanford and Oregon.
UCLA wasn’t perfect, but a 488-yard offensive performance was enough to beat the Bears.
”There is a lot left out on the field, and we can get that much better,” Hundley said. ”I did all right. I did OK. It just shows me personally, I can do so much more.”
UCLA struggled with nine penalties and an unimpressive running game in the absence of injured tailback Jordon James, but Hundley went 31 for 41 while picking apart the Bears’ injury-depleted defense and avenging the Bruins’ embarrassing loss in Berkeley last season.
The Bruins didn’t exactly dazzle a near-sellout Rose Bowl crowd celebrating coach Jim Mora’s unbeaten team, but the defense made sure Cal never threatened to make it a game in the second half.
”I think we did a good job, but we know we have to be better,” said Barr, who had an early sack and two tackles for losses. ”We got them down, and they had to throw the ball a little more, and we took care of it after that.”
The test should prove valuable to a team that must figure out how to move the ball against the Cardinal’s sturdy defense and slow down the Ducks’ speedy offense in consecutive weeks to stay in the national title hunt.
Perkins had just 36 yards rushing while starting in place of James, who hurt his ankle in last week’s win at Utah. Simon Goines moved to left tackle and freshman Caleb Benenoch took over at right tackle on the UCLA offensive line after starting left tackle Torian White was lost for the regular season last week.
The Bruins’ running game was mostly weak, but Hundley completed 13 straight passes during the first half, showing off his pocket poise to the usual gathering of NFL scouts hoping he’ll pass up his final two years of eligibility this winter.
”Thought it was all right,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said of Hundley’s performance, the third-best in UCLA history. ”Obviously, with that statement, you see our expectations of him.”
UCLA, which leads the FBS in penalties for the second straight season, repeatedly was slowed by flags early. Fuller still turned a short screen pass into an 18-yard TD with a romp through the secondary for the Bruins’ first touchdown, and Perkins scored from 1 yard out early in the second quarter to put UCLA up 17-0.
Cal finally responded with consecutive scoring drives aided by another batch of penalties against the Bruins.
Cassius Marsh, UCLA’s starting right defensive end, was thrown out of the game in the second quarter for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he committed back-to-back offsides penalties. Lasco capped that 81-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run, and the Bears trailed just 17-10 just 2 1/2 minutes before halftime.
But Hundley calmly engineered a 73-yard drive in just 1:50, finding Duarte right down the middle for a 27-yard score.
UCLA’s offense struggled again after halftime, but cornerback Randall Goforth’s 31-yard interception return led to another field goal. The Bruins put it away with 4:41 to play when Evans caught a short pass and sliced through the Cal defense for a 22-yard score.