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Pregame Guesses: UCLA Bruins v. U.C. Berkeley Golden Bears

Will turnovers be a factor? Cal leads the country in forcing turnovers. Both teams have stables of competent backs; which unit will perform better? How will the experienced UCLA receivers fare in exploiting what appears to be a favorable match up on paper? Try your luck at this week's Pregame Guesses.

UCLA wide receiver, Jordan Payton, needs a big game for the Bruins tomorrow night.
UCLA wide receiver, Jordan Payton, needs a big game for the Bruins tomorrow night.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow night at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins have not used their home field advantage to the fullest in the last 1 and 1/2 seasons. They face a higher ranked opponent, as the Golden Bears are in the top 20 in both polls and UCLA is deservedly unranked. U.C. Berkley has a dangerous and more seasoned quarterback. All signs appear to point to another letdown. But this also might he the type of game where UCLA surprises. There's been a few of those in Jim Mora's tenure. The result of this game, and the future of the UCLA football program in the 2015 season is an unknown road.

* * *

I am pretty mad right now about UCLA football. One of the parents of another kid on my daughter's soccer team questioned why I didn't have my Bruins hat on last weekend. Sigh. The pressure is building even as a fan; I cannot imagine how the team feels.

Back when I wanted to blow off steam living in San Diego in the early 90s, or when I wanted to pump myself up before surfing or soccer, there was a go-to CD that I would "use" for this purpose. The whole album is unrelentingly fast.

As it turns out, the title track is also perfectly applicable about how I feel about UCLA's future this season, while at the same time providing a "pressure release valve" for the angst that we as fans have built up since being gashed on the ground ins Tucson, even though that game resulted in a win. Never gloss over a glaring error in a win that you would feel the need to correct in a loss, or something like that, right?

Even in this dark period, I still see some bruin fans who are not bothered by what has happened in the last 25 days. Some people are happy with the status quo: lower tier bowl game; 8, 9, or if we are lucky, 10 wins seasons; no New Year's Day bowls; no PAC 12  titles. Others have higher standards for this team and wonder about those other fans:

So you're currently content with your surroundings

you possess a vague sense of accomplishment

did you give all you had to give?

or did you give conservative?

do you think that all the years that passed you by

we're all well spent?

Those lyrics are from the title track of Pennywise's 1993 second wave punk classic, "The Unknown Road."

The lyrics describe the "8-9 win season is OK" Bruin fan. Why can't we as fans strive for more? Why can't we strive for greatness?

The title of the song, "The Unknown Road," describes what the Bruins face right now, this season. The team is at a crossroads. Which path will they take down the unknown road?

* * *

In BN's preview of the U.C. Berkeley defense, Cal fan, "Joe Bandsmen," commented that Cal had forced 21 turnovers this season. I looked it up and, lo and behold, Cal leads the country in this department. Cal has turned the ball over a lot, with 16 turnovers, for a plus five turnover margin. Better than UCLA, who have 9 INTs (and zero fumbles) while causing 9 turnovers, for a margin of zero.  PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 1: Who will win the turnover battle tomorrow evening, the Bruins or the Golden Bears?

Both teams have a number solid running backs. Although Paul Perkins is UCLA's bell cow, Nate Starks, Soso Jamabo, and Bolu Olorunfunmi all average over 6 YPC, with one (Olorunfunmi) averaging over 8 YPC. Those four Bruins have combined for 1,227 yards this season. U.C. Berkeley's top 4 backs all average over 4 YPC, with one (Khalfani Muhammed) averaging over 8 YPC.Those four Golden Bears have combined for 970 yards rushing. Cal should also see more out of senior Daniel Lasko, who has been out and/or limited since the Texas game. He should be back, and might be U.C. Berkeley's best overall back. So, with this in mind, PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 1: which four deep running back unit will have more rushing yards?

Finally, as I mentioned in BN's preview of the Golden Bear defense, the cornerbacks appear to be the least experienced unit for U.C. Berkeley. The Golden Bears are #83 in passing yards allowed. The senior, Darius, Wright is a JuCo transfer and only started 3 games for the Golden Bears prior to this season. The sophomore, Darius Allensworth, did not start before this season. Conversely, UCLA has two crafty senior wide receivers in Jordan Payton and Devin Fuller. Payton is averaging 81 receiving yards per game. Fuller is averaging 22 receiving yards per game. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 3: Will Payton and Fuller combine for more than 150 receiving yards, which would be 47 yards about their combined average. They might need that type of production to generate a Bruin win.

I hope that you enjoyed this iteration of Bruins Nations' Pregame Guesses. Fire away with your answers, and any thoughts or comments you might have, in the comment section.

We are one day from kickoff.

Go Bruins!