After looking lifeless against Arizona State, the Bears came out fired up and showed off some new wrinkles, downing the Bruins by a score of 43-17. New and old faces on both sides of the ball combined to bring Cal its first win against an FBS team this season.
It looked like the Bears were in for a long night when quarterback Zach Maynard was picked off on the opening drive. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley quickly found Cassius Marsh, who usually lines up at defensive end, for the first score of the night.
That was where the similarities to Cal's woes ended. After that first miscue, Cal's offense looked more efficient than any point so far this season, featuring contributions from fan favorites Brendan Bigelow and sophomore tight end Richard Rodgers. The defense looked sharper too, flying around the field and forcing six turnovers, one less than the unit recorded in the first five games combined.
Maynard had settled into his rhythm by the second quarter, finding C.J. Anderson and Keenan Allen in the end zone for two of his four passing touchdowns. He also found Rodgers over the middle for a slick 42 yard gain.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Hundley had a more difficult time, missing a number of open receivers downfield despite looking sharp on shorter routes. Kameron Jackson, who was filling in after Marc Anthony went down with an injury (later reported to be a bruised knee), recorded an interception in the end zone near the end of the first half.
Anthony would not return, but Jackson substituted for him admirably, picking off Hundley three times. (Look later for a Bear Insider video of his post-game coments) Defensive back Michael Lowe got into the action as well, taking a fourth-quarter interception back 57 yards before being tackled. The defense also got the Bruins to put the ball on the ground, capitalizing on a dropped backward pass and a muffed punt.
The Bears struggled at times to convert turnovers into points, as the offense could not capitalize on two consecutive drives ended by interceptions in the fourth quarter, fumbling the ball back to UCLA both times. Jackson's third pick of the night, coming late in the fourth, set up a touchdown on a 68-yard run by Anderson.
That run was the longest of Anderson's career, and would bring the score to 43-17, the final. Anderson got the bulk of the carries, going 151 yards on 21 touches. Isi Sofele and Brendan Bigelow each had five, and Bigelow also caught two passes for 36 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.
Keenan Allen may have put the points on the board with his two touchdown receptions, but it was Richard Rodgers who would have the bigger statistical day, with catches of 42 and 50 yards on the way to a total of 129.
Maynard, in addition to his four touchdowns and 295 yards through the air, also ran for a short score. The offensive line did a better job of keeping him upright throughout the game, limiting sacks to three.
The Bears were not able to completely eliminate some of the issues that have plagued them this season, namely penalties (10 for 100 yards) and special teams (two blocked PATs), but their performance was good enough to cruise to victory. UCLA is no slouch this year, owning a win over 16th ranked Nebraska and a 3-1 record before tonight. With this loss, the Bruins drop to 1-2 in Pac-12 play and will have to catch some breaks if they want a shot at the Pac-12 South title.
Cal improved to 2-4 overall with its first conference win. The Bears also move out of the Pac-12 cellar, as Washington State, Utah, and Arizona all seek their first conference wins. Cal will attempt to hand the Cougars their fifth loss when they go head to head in Pullman next week. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.