UCLA Football vs. Cal 2017: 3 keys to a victory

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Josh Rosen /

UCLA Football sits at 5-6 and is a game away from a bowl eligibility. Standing in their way is a California team who at 5-6 could use a trip to a bowl themselves. Here are 3 things UCLA can do to get the win.

For the first time since 2011, UCLA Football has a new head coach. No, it’s not Chip Kelly, not yet. It’s offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch on an interim basis. Fisch has shown a knack for creativity with his play-calling and has earned this opportunity but there is little chance that he remains the head coach beyond this season. However, we are not here to talk about Jim Mora, Kelly or future head coaches. We are here to discuss UCLA Football’s opponent this week: Cal.

Both teams come into the game with a 5-6 record and will be looking to become bowl eligible with a win. Cal began the season with a lot of promise winning their first three games before the bottom fell out. Along the way, they lost 6 of 8 games with their two wins coming against Washington State and Oregon State. UCLA Football’s path to 5-6 included two different two-game losing streaks.

Related Story: Know Your Opponent: UCLA Football vs. Cal 2017

With the stage set, here’s what UCLA Football must do to win the game:

1. Start fast

UCLA Football has been slow out of the gates in many of their games this season. It began with the Texas A&M game, then Memphis, Stanford, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and USC. The only games that saw UCLA have a fast start were the games against Hawaii and Oregon. Against Oregon, UCLA Football got out to a 14-0 lead, then let the Ducks right back in the game. The bad thing about these slow starts is that it forces your offense to play catch up. This was the case for most of the season. It always seemed that Josh Rosen was constantly in no-win situations trying to will the team back. Additionally, teams with leads rely on the run more. The Bruins have been horrid against the run as I am sure you have heard by now. This all adds up to a 5-6 record. To beat the Golden Bears this week, the Bruins must buck this trend.

2. Control the run game

UCLA’s defense had a decent game against the run last weekend. They held Ronald Jones II to 122 yards on 28 carries. Considering that UCLA’s run defense had been historically bad all season, this was a win. Cal presents less of a running threat than USC. In fact, UCLA Football has actually out gained the Bears on the ground this season. Therefore, it isn’t a stretch to expect the Bruins to be able to handle Patrick Laird and company.

3. Outshine the Bears

UCLA Football has the best quarterback in the country in Rosen. The people who disagree with this statement choose to do so for non-football reasons. Rosen has been shackled by offensive line play, the lack of a running game and UCLA’s defense. In spite of these issues, he will be the best player on the field for either team this weekend. Rosen will be without Caleb Wilson and Darren Andrews but he still has an explosive weapon in Jordan Lasley. With Rosen throwing to him, Lasley is arguably the best wide receiver in the Pac-12. Before facing a three game suspension, he was on pace to lead the conference in receiving yards. After three games on the shelf, he returned and exploded for 366 yards in two games. He is averaging an absurd 183 yards a game since his return. The Rosen and Lasley combination is crucial and must outshine the Bears for UCLA to be successful.

Next: 4 takeaways from the Bruins' 2018 schedule

UCLA Football goes up against the California Golden Bears on Friday, November 24th at 7:30 pm at the Rose Bowl. Make sure you show up early, get loud to cheer on your Bruins and send your seniors out right.