Games like Saturday’s are the toughest for me to preview. I have to fight between my logical side and my emotional side. Thus today you will get a dialogue format preview:
Emotional Side (ES): The Bears can beat this UCLA squad! What is their most impressive win? Texas? (They’re 2-4) The squeaker over Virginia (who couldn’t even beat BYU)? Or is it the other squeaker over 3-3 Memphis?
Logical Side (LS): Come on, you know their best win is over ASU who just beat USC.
ES: Yeah, but ASU was without their starting QB and was starting the backup for the 1st time. Not exactly an overwhelming performance!
LS: OK, let’s not get carried away. We can’t judge teams just by their victories alone. You do realize the Bear’s best conference victory is over a team that is now 2-4? We’ve got to use qualitative methods too.
ES: But I’m not done. Cal beat WSU, who beat Utah, who solidly beat UCLA!
LS: You’re really resorting to the transitive property with games that were all close? Look, UCLA only lost one game that they shouldn’t have (to Utah) but otherwise they’ve won all the games the were supposed to and lost the one game they were likely to lose. There’s a reason they were picked at the top of the South. This is one talented team.
ES: Yeah, but UCLA hasn’t won in Berkeley since Clinton was in the White House. UCLA always lays an egg in Berkeley.
LS: But that was pretty much all under Tedford, who’s team and style was much better suited to beat UCLA. And you’re comparing old UCLA teams with different coaches. In those days, Cal would win easily in Berkeley and then lose the most frustrating close loss of the season the following year in Pasadena. I seem to remember last year’s game being anything but close. Or do you not remember that with how long it took to find a parking spot, the score was already 17-0 when you got to your seat?
ES: OK, I’ll give you that one.
LS: Well, and since we’re in a conceding mood, I have to think this game hinges on the UCLA defense. If they can do what Washington did to Cal, then UCLA wins easily. But if Cal can return to its previous form offensively, Cal could have a real shot at this one.
ES: Yeah, and the Cal defense is playing better now!
LS: Let’s not get carried away. Yes, they did a better job against UW than they did against any of their previous opponents. But UW hasn’t been exactly lighting up the scoreboard. Plus, there were a couple too many big runs the Cal defense gave up, something they hadn’t been doing. And UCLA will probably try to control this game with the run game, between Perkins and Hundley running both on designed plays and when the passing game breaks down. We’ve seen nothing from the Bears front 7 to suggest they can contain a running QB. Plus with both Scarlett and Piatt out, things look even worse.
ES: OK, maybe UCLA scores some points too, but you have to like Cal’s chances in a shootout. Cal has done really well in those sorts of games and the defense seems to come up with just enough in the 4th quarter to win those.
LS: Yes, that’s probably the best scenario for the Bears, but don’t forget that next to UW, UCLA is probably the best defense the Bears have seen. Even if they don’t stop the Bears, they might just be good enough to come up with those critical one or two stops late in the game that could find the Bears on the wrong side of a shootout.
ES: Look, I don’t care what you say. You can quote stats and logical arguments all you want, but the Bears can win this one!
LS: Yes, they could. They’ve got a reasonable shot, but when you’re looking at this one logically, there’s a reason the Bears are a 7 point underdog at home, and in the end, the logical side needs to be the one running this blog.
Bears lose a frustrating one: Cal 31 – UCLA 41