This post was updated Nov. 27 at 12.50 p.m.
Perhaps it was a fitting end to a season that’s seemed to serve up greater depths of disappointment each week.
UCLA fell 36-10 to California Saturday night, the ugly loss erasing any chance the Bruins had of securing a bowl bid.
Though UCLA entered halftime down 12-0, Cal dominated the game from start to finish, outgaining the Bruins by more than 200 yards and holding the ball for over 40 minutes.
“Obviously, this was a disappointing end to what was a disappointing season for us,” said coach Jim Mora. “This was a tough one, and hats off to Cal. We’ll rise again, we will.”
The Bruins produced just 10 points and 260 total yards against a Bear defense that entered the night ranked last and second to last in the Football Bowl Subdivision in points allowed and yards allowed per game, respectively.
They punted on all six of their first-half drives, but were still within striking distance heading into the locker room, down just 12-0 because the Bears, successful as they were at moving the ball down the field, had to settle for four field goals in the opening half.
Early in the third quarter, UCLA looked like it might mount a comeback. Redshirt senior quarterback Mike Fafaul, after going 2-for-11 in the first half, led a six-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a seven-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior receiver Kenneth Walker.
Cal responded with a quick touchdown, though, and took firm control of the game throughout the rest of the night.
Bear quarterback Davis Webb, the nation’s third-leading passer entering the game, sliced up the Bruin defense, connecting on 32 of his 48 passes for 301 yards. Over half of those yards went to Cal’s star receiver, Chad Hansen, who hauled in 10 passes for 156 yards.
Running back Khalfani Muhammad added 116 yards on 29 carries to help the Bears control the clock.
“We basically dominated the entire game moving the ball,” Webb said. “Everyone in this locker room has heard over the past four years that we haven’t beat an LA team. We ended that tonight.”
Meanwhile, Fafaul struggled in his final game, completing just 12 of his 30 passes for 176 yards.
“He didn’t seem as loose as he has in the previous games and I’m not exactly sure of the reason,” Mora said. “You have to give Cal’s defense credit. We were running the ball pretty well early on and had trouble throwing it. I think he felt some pressure.”
Facing one of the nation’s worst rush defenses, UCLA looked to help Fafaul by establishing the run. It worked somewhat to start the game, as the Bruins tallied 74 yards on 16 carries in the first half.
But the run game regressed in the second half, producing just 10 yards as Fafaul tried to throw the Bruins back into the game.
A couple scoring drives notwithstanding, the quarterback failed to challenge the Cal defense. By the time he threw an interception with just under 12 minutes to go, UCLA was already in a deep hole.
The defense, which had stood up in the red zone in the first half, wore down as the game went on, giving up 24 points in the second half. Webb shredded the Bruins after halftime, going 11-for-16 for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“They’re a very good offense, you know they’re gonna move the ball,” said defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. “You (figure), ‘Okay, if we can hold them to field goals, that’s okay, just keep them out of the end zone.’ Then we didn’t do that in the second half.”
Bradley lamented after the game the missed opportunities by his defense, pointing to three separate passes that could have been intercepted and possibly returned for touchdowns, only to slip through the hands of a UCLA defensive back.
“We have to make plays when we have an opportunity to make plays,” Bradley said.