UCLA football travels to Cal, looking to lose a losing streak – an Orange County record

Six days after falling to USC in an instant classic, UCLA had little time to catch up on the loss that ended their Pac-12 championship aspirations, with a short week before the game at Cal on Saturday.

The Bruins attend Thanksgiving dinner at their hotel in Berkeley. Then, they would attempt to snap their first losing streak of the season and finish the regular season on a high note at Memorial Stadium.

The win would give UCLA (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) its first regular season nine-win season since 2014, and its first under head coach Chip Kelly. It would also put the Bruins one win away from a school-record 10 wins — if they win the bowl game.

“Ten (wins) doesn’t mean anything unless you get to nine, so we never get ahead of ourselves or talk about anything longer than that,” Kelly said. “So our attention is on Cal.”

Back-to-back losses to Arizona and USC after starting the season 8-1 have taken the spotlight off the Bruins, who insist there is still plenty to play for.

Offensive lineman Raygon O’Neal said it wasn’t hard to get straight back on the court Sunday night, less than 24 hours after the loss.

“This is our hunger,” O’Neill said. “We wanted to get out here and get that bad taste out of our mouths.”

Kicker and Punter Nicholas Bar-Mira described trying to find an equal mindset after an emotional game.

“There will be those ups, there will be those ups and downs,” Bar-Mira said. “The key is to get back in the middle and be ready to play in the next game.”

The Bears (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) have only two wins in conference, but snapped six games last week with a come-from-behind 27-20 victory over Stanford in the big game. Cal has played two teams in the current standings tough, losing by one score each to USC and Notre Dame.

UCLA has won four of its last five games against Cal. The Bruins’ last game in Berkeley was in 2018, which was Kelly’s first win as a UCLA coach.

Cal coach Justin Wilcox’s teams will “always be competitive,” Kelly said. Saturday’s game will likely be Cal’s last game of the season, barring a long bowl shot appearance as a five-win team.

“It’s their last chance to play,” Kelly said, “and we expect them to throw everything at us.”

Quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson, who was playing his last games of the regular season, called the loss to USC a hard one — but he wanted to finish the season on the right note for the 27 great players on the roster.

“Trying to send these guys off on the right foot,” said Thompson-Robinson. “And the underclassmen understand that. They know that. So we’re just trying to go to Cal and have a final shout out together on the field.”

When UCLA has the ball

Thompson-Robinson is the fourth-most efficient passer in the country — he has a 69.8% completion percentage — but he has thrown three interceptions and also had a tackle against USC.

He’ll be looking to bounce back against a Cal defense that allows the most passing yards in the Pac-12 at 287.7 per game.

Zach Charbonnet, who was kept under 100 yards last week for only the second time all season, will be looking to find triple figures again. Cal’s rushing defense is in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12, allowing 131.5 yards per game.

The Bruins could see Odua Isibor, a linebacker who spent five years at UCLA before moving to Cal, this season. Isibor appeared in three games for the Bears.

Thompson-Robinson called Cal’s front seven “the big” and said the defense gives a different look on third down.

“The things we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks have been giving us a little bit of trouble, so just make sure we clean up the twist up front up front,” said Thompson-Robinson.

When Cal has the ball

The Bruins defense will look to bounce back from allowing 649 yards of total offense to USC against a Cal offense that has faded this season, with Wilcox releasing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and offensive line coach Angus McClure before the Stanford game.

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