California looks to bounce back from its first loss on Thursday as the 19th-ranked Golden Bears visit injury-plagued UCLA, which has struggled without three defensive starters. The Bruins, who have dropped back-to-back games after opening with four straight wins, spent their bye week searching for ways to slow down a California offense that ranks 12th nationally in scoring at 40.2 points per game.
The Golden Bears have been off since Oct. 10, when quarterback Jared Goff’s Heisman Trophy campaign derailed as the junior threw five interceptions in a 30-24 loss at Utah. Goff is tied for eighth nationally in touchdown passes (17) and is 12th in passing yards (1,970) despite playing behind an offensive line that has allowed 11 sacks in the past three games. He should have more time to throw against a depleted UCLA defense that has lost tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Fabian Moreau to season-ending injuries. If UCLA is going to avoid its first three-game regular-season losing streak since 2010, the Bruins will likely need freshman quarterback Josh Rosen to keep pace with Goff and the high-powered California offense.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Thursday, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: UCLA opened as 4-point home favorites and have come down slightly to sit at -3.5. Meanwhile, the total has been on the rise since opening at 65.5 and now sits at 68.
California – RB D. Lasco (probable Thursday, hip).
UCLA – OL A. Redmond (probable Thursday, hand), LB D. Hollins (questionable Thursday, knee), RB N. Starks (questionable Thursday, head), OL P. Moala (questionable Thursday, hand), OL C. McDermott (doubtful Thursday, knee), WR T. Scott (out for season, knee).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night for football in Pasadena. It should be a clear night in temperatures in the low 70’s at gametime. There will also be a slight six mile per hour wind blowing towards the north endzone.
WHAT BOOKS SAY:
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Both
teams enter the game off disappointing losses, the Bears their first of the
season and the Bruins off back-to-backs defeats. Cal’s 13–4-1 ATS mark in games
off a loss is intriguing but they just had their “bubble burst” and the
visiting team is 0-5 ATS. Can’t see UCLA dropping three in a row.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
ABOUT CALIFORNIA (5-1, 4-2 ATS, 2-4 O/U): The Golden Bears are seeking to avenge their 36-34 loss to UCLA last season, when Goff threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns, including one to wide receiver Kenny Lawler, who leads this year’s squad with 34 catches, 465 yards and eight TDs. The running game could receive a spark if Daniel Lasco (hip) is available after missing most of the last four games. Defensive end Kyle Kragen (35 tackles and five sacks) heads a unit that ranks first in the nation with 21 turnovers gained but failed to contain Utah’s Devontae Booker, who rushed for 222 yards and two scores.
ABOUT UCLA (4-2, 2-3-1 ATS, 2-4 O/U): Rosen has thrown for 889 yards and seven touchdowns in his last three games, but he’s been sacked five times in the last two and will likely be without starting left tackle Conor McDermott, who is listed as questionable due to a sprained knee. Paul Perkins, who leads UCLA with 681 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, could receive a heavy workload against a California defense that was dominated by Utah’s ground game. Run defense has been a major concern for UCLA, which is allowing 285 rushing yards per game in Pac-12 play after Stanford ran for 310 in last Thursday’s 56-35 win over the Bruins.
* Home team is 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* California is 1-5-1 ATS in the last seven meetings at UCLA.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings at UCLA.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is split almost dead even for this Pac-12 matchup, with 51.03 percent of wagers backing California.