Leave it to the year 2020 where two college football teams were forced to bail out of their Sunday plans and play football instead.
UCLA had been playing the waiting game to see if Utah was ready to go for their contest and their home opener. It wasn’t until that afternoon finding out that the Utes did not hop on a plane early Friday afternoon as they were short players, even after moving the game from Friday to Saturday. Around the same time, California suddenly lost their chance at a season opener with Arizona State’s COVID outbreak, including infecting Sun Devil head coach Herm Edwards.
With both the Bruins and Bears losing their games, both athletic directors took to the phones and asked if, well, they could just play each other to add a game to their standings. So now, the Bears, barring a setback, will be debuting their 2020 season instead in Pasadena.
This game will have so many unique factors. Starting off with the little amount of prep time, both teams will have just roughly 36 hours of strategizing to do. Sure UCLA has won five out of the last seven contests and history does point to their favor. But the Bears are returning most of their players back and they have experience against UCLA, winning last season’s contest led by running back Christopher Brown Jr.’s iconic performance and a defense taking down the quarterback six times.
Cal’s season debut was halted when Arizona had COVID issues, leading to a cancellation of the game. UCLA had a rough go of their season opener, but quarterback Dorian Thompson Robinson found his groove in the second half against Colorado, though his team fell with their defense unable to make key stops late in the game. The only major advantage the Bruins have against Cal is having a game under their belt.
The Bears may have the upper hand in this game, with Brown Jr. quarterback Chase Gabers, and a loaded linebacker core led by Kuony Deng and Cameron Goode. The Bears were also picked to finish second in the Pac-12 North, meaning each win they can snag should make their contest against Oregon that much more interesting.
With all that aside, both teams will look to adjust as the game goes along. With only last year’s experience to fall back on, both teams will make drastic changes and should end up being a very close game. Either way, this is a game the Bruins need with the possibility of falling 0-2 and in danger of falling under .500 again with head coach Chip Kelly for a third straight season.