Kevin Riley #13 of the California Golden Bears runs for a touchdown against the UCLA Bruins in the first half at California Memorial Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Berkeley, California.
From Darian Hagan's first big sack to California's final defensive stand, that tricky Pistol offense was absolutely no problem for the Golden Bears the second time around.
Granted, even UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel would acknowledge his Bruins are nowhere near Nevada's caliber right now.
Shane Vereen rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns, Marvin Jones scored on a 48-yard reverse and Cal limited UCLA to 144 yards of offense in a 35-7 victory Saturday.
Kevin Riley ran for a score and threw a short TD pass to Keenan Allen for the Bears (3-2, 1-1 Pac-10), who rolled to a 28-0 halftime lead in their first game back from a bye after two straight losses.
"We couldn't wait to come out and get another game under our belt and finally push that one aside," said Vereen, who racked up his third straight 100-yard rushing game. "We kind of fell off the horse for a couple of weeks, but this past week of practice, we were able to get back on the horse."
Cal earned a comfortable win on a gorgeous afternoon in Strawberry Canyon by smothering UCLA's struggling offense from the opening drive, holding the Bruins to 58 yards in the first half while snapping UCLA's three-game winning streak.
The Bruins copied their offense from Nevada, which dropped 52 points and 497 yards on Cal last month. After following that defeat with a narrow loss at Arizona, the Bears spent their bye week stewing about their skid and practicing discipline against UCLA's Pistol.
"I don't want to put their offense down, but I think they would admit it's not quite to the Reno stage yet," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said diplomatically. "Reno has been doing it for a long time, and their quarterback is excellent with it. Once you play it the first time, you learn lessons from it, and we definitely needed to learn from our last experience with it, and I think we did."
Hagan tied for the team lead with five tackles -- including the cornerback's first two sacks of his life, he claimed.
"When they called that play, my eyes got big," Hagan said of his corner blitzes to take down Kevin Prince.
Prince passed for 99 yards and a score for the Bruins (3-3, 1-2), who haven't won in six trips to Memorial Stadium since 1998. UCLA's rushing offense, ranked 10th in the nation with 262.4 yards per game heading to Berkeley, managed just 26 yards against the Bears -- and that was just one big problem for the Bruins, who appeared to regress on both sides of the ball.
"They thoroughly outplayed us, especially in that first half," Neuheisel said. "It was too much to come back from. We got out of our element as an offense. We were forced to throw the ball way more than we wanted to, or were prepared to, and obviously it didn't go well for us."
Johnathan Franklin rushed for just 54 yards and committed a key fumble for UCLA, which turned in another confounding performance. The Bruins beat Houston, Texas and Washington State in their past three games, suggesting they might be coming together in Neuheisel's third season.
Although it wasn't as ugly as UCLA's 35-0 home loss to Stanford last month, the Bruins never found rhythm in their usually solid running game. Prince went 13 for 31 after missing last week's game with an injury, throwing a TD pass to Christian Ramirez but missing plenty of open receivers.
"They obviously played Nevada, and we took Nevada's offense," Prince said."They were ready for us. They did a great job of defending the zone read, and they did a great job of adjusting to the things we wanted to take advantage of."
Although Riley was just 9 of 16 for 83 yards, Cal's offense methodically chewed up yardage and time of possession, capping a 304-yard rushing performance on Jones' run through traffic with 9 minutes to play. Isi Sofele rushed for a career-best 80 yards for the Bears.
Even without injured receptions-leader Nelson Rosario, the Bruins attempted to get some production from a passing game that has been largely incompetent this season, ranking 118th out of 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision through five weeks. Prince went 6 for 12 in the first half, but managed just 33 yards for a UCLA offense that only had four first downs in the half.
After Vereen scored twice in the opening 10 minutes, Allen caught a short TD pass and Riley scored on a 1-yard keeper to put Cal up 28-0 shortly before halftime. Prince's 6-yard scoring pass to Ramirez on the opening drive of the second half was just UCLA's third TD throw of the season.