Kelley L. Cox / USA TODAY Sports

2016 Opponent Primer: California

June 2 -- UCLA plays California in the final regular season game, and the Bears could take a step back in 2016...


Nov. 26, Memorial Stadium

2015 Record: 8-5 (4-5)

2015 Recap: California had an altogether respectable season in 2015, but, as with 2014, it was marked by a very good start to the season followed by a fizzling finish. The Bears began the year 5-0 before a fateful trip to Utah dealt them their first loss, which was quickly followed by four more losses over the next five games. By the end of the season, California was three points against Arizona State away from finishing the regular season with a .500 record. The shame of it is that this was basically the present peak for Cal -- the Bears lost most of their offense in the offseason, including eventual No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. Now, the Bears enter what could be either a slight or major rebuilding phase, depending on how Cal replaces Goff.

Returning Starters: 10 (four on offense, six on defense)

Notable Recruits: ATH Demetris Robertson , ATH Melquise Stovall , ATH Victor Viramontes , QB Max Gilliam 

2016 Projection: The Bears were dealt some good fortune just a few weeks ago when Texas Tech quarterback transfer Davis Webb spurned Colorado to instead head to Cal. Webb is a very talented quarterback who actually shined as a freshman and a sophomore before suffering an injury that put him behind Patrick Mahomes on the Red Raider depth chart. He did very well in Texas Tech's system, which has some major similarities to Cal's.

New Cal QB Davis Webb (USA Today)

So, Cal has probably already figured out its quarterback situation: more than likely, Webb will start. The rest of the offense is a bigger question mark. Gone are guys like Trevor DavisKenny LawlerBryce Treggs, and Daniel Lasco, and the Bears are going to have to find some playmakers to replace them. Even with a talented quarterback like Webb, it's reasonable to think Cal's offense should take a major step back.

Defensively, the Bears need to find someone to replace the production of Kyle Kragen and Mustafa Jalil as pass rushers after going from 16 sacks in 2014 to 28 last year. Two of Cal's most experienced DBs spent most of spring sidelined, and that leaves the secondary as a pretty considerable question mark.

From a schedule perspective, the Bears have to play Hawaii in a weird game in Australia, so all bets are off there. After that, the Bears go at San Diego State and then have Texas at home. Every single one of those games is losable. In conference play, the Bears get Utah, Oregon, Washington, Stanford, and UCLA at home, which is some small comfort, with road games against Arizona State, Oregon State, Washington State, and USC. Just eye-balling it, if Cal can go 4-5 in conference like last year, it'll be a small miracle. The Bears are probably not going to be very good in 2016. 

Outlook for UCLA: This is one of those years where UCLA has a conference game after USC, and that can always cause some trouble. Under Jim Mora, the team's emotional highs have been excellent, but the Bruins have had a harder time maintaining a consistent level of emotion from game to game, and you could easily see this being one where it's the valley rather than the peak.

On the other hand, Cal isn't going to very good next year. The Bears have a lot of question marks, and the thing is, they weren't even all that good last year. Even if Webb is completely ready to go and looks the part, Cal has so many potential weaknesses that it's hard to project this being one of UCLA's tougher games.

Of course, UCLA has had its issues playing on the road against California over the years, and that can't be discounted. We have to figure, though, that UCLA will have figured out its offensive and defensive schemes by this point, and Josh Rosen will be playing at a very high level in the last regular season game of his second year in college.


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