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Saturday, October 25, 2008
California bounces back; Craft doesn't


Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

A workmanlike effort for California, with the defense getting the gold star for the 41-20 win over UCLA a week after Arizona made it look like milquetoast.

Cal (5-2, 3-1) was the better team. UCLA is struggling on offense, its line is simply not up to Pac-10 play with just 16 yards rushing and three sacks surrendered.

What's got to be a relief for the Bears and their fans is the bounce back after the dispiriting loss at Arizona. Considering what happened during last year's second-half slide, it was not unreasonable to wonder if Cal was an emotionally vulnerable team.

This was a solid performance, even if the re-insertion of Kevin Riley as the starting quarterback didn't exactly jump-start the passing game. The only big highlight through the air -- at least until things got out of hand -- was a 53-yard touchdown to Nyan Boateng on a flea flicker.

The Bears will need more next weekend when Oregon comes to town for what likely will be a significant separation game in the Pac-10.

As for UCLA (3-5, 2-3), there were no fourth-quarter heroics from quarterback Kevin Craft this time. He was pretty much off target all game, with two of his four interceptions returned for touchdowns.

At some point, a clearly frustrated Rick Neuheisel is going to yank Craft and probably insert redshirt freshman Chris Forcier as the starter.

The Bruins have a bye week to mull that and other issues.