UCLA will take the field Friday night against visiting California in a Pac-12 regular-season finale at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins’ first game since coach Jim Mora was fired. Mora was let go Sunday with one game left in his sixth season at UCLA, and one day after UCLA lost to cross-town rival USC for the third consecutive year.
Jedd Fisch will finish the season as the interim coach at UCLA, and the Bruins need to beat California to become bowl-eligible. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has publicly praised Mora for developing him into one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football this season, so it’ll be interesting if the coaching change affects Rosen. The Golden Bears are facing their own challenges after losing three of their past four to remain one win from automatically qualifying for a postseason game. The Bruins allowed a season-low 153 rushing yards against USC, moving them one spot up to second-to-last among 129 FBS teams in rush defense at 288.7 yards allowed per game, so expect a lot of carries from California running back Patrick Laird, who has combined for 367 rushing yards in the past two games.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1. LINE: UCLA -7.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12): None of the key offensive players who led the Golden Bears to a 36-10 victory against UCLA last season will play in this game, so it will be up to Laird and sophomore quarterback Ross Bowers to move the ball. Bowers had multiple interceptions in three of the first four games this season, but that’s happened just once in the past seven games. Taking better care of the football hasn’t resulted in more victories, however.
ABOUT UCLA (5-6, 3-5): Jordan Lasley has been another bright spot in an otherwise down year for the Bruins. He became the fourth UCLA receiver with at least 200 receiving yards in a game when he caught 10 passes for a career-high 204 yards and three touchdowns against USC. Theo Howard has also come on strong after leading receiver Darren Andrews went down with a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 3, catching 11 passes for 81 yards in the latest game.
1. California K Matt Anderson needs one field goal to give him 57 for his career and break Doug Brien’s school record .
2. Rosen owns the career school record for 300-yard passing games with 17.
3. Lasley has seven 100-yard receiving games in his career, tied for fifth-most in program history.
PREDICTION: UCLA 38, California 27