Five things to watch:
1. Pistol whipped? —UCLA’s Pistol has allowed Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman to run roughshod over opponents the last three weeks and Cal didn’t have much success stopping the Pistol against Nevada. The Golden Bears, however, have the double advantage of having seen it before and having had two weeks to study it because of a bye week. Cal will surely be prepared to stop it and if they do, the Bruins will have to take the passing game out of their back pockets.
2. Life of Riley—The Bruins are tops in the Pac-10 with 2.8 sacks per game and will have to continue that kind of pressure on Cal quarterback Kevin Riley, who has passed for five touchdowns with no interceptions in two games against the Bruins. This year, Riley has eight touchdown passes through four games.
3. Secondary issues—The Bruins defensive backfield has become a vulnerability that teams are beginning to exploit. Last week’s 311-yard passing performance by Washington State’s Jeff Tuel continued an upward trend in passing yards given up by UCLA. Big plays have been of particular concern, with opponents routinely hitting pass play of 30 yards or more.
4. Turnover battle—UCLA’s 14 turnovers are the most of any Pac-10 team and only four other teams in the nation have more. The Bruins have survived by forcing 11 turnovers, but that might not work against a Cal team that has committed only four turnovers so far—tied for 10th fewest in the nation.
5. Contain Shane—Cal running back Shane Vereen has owned UCLA the last two years, averaging more than eight yards a carry against the Bruins. He’s the focal point of Cal’s offense this year, leading the Pac-10 with eight touchdowns, so Akeem Ayers, Patrick Larimore and the rest of the UCLA front seven must prevent him from getting loose.