How to Watch and Game Preview: UC Berkeley Golden Bears at UCLA Bruins
The Bruins look to complete a sweep of the Pac-12 California schools when they face the Golden Bears tonight.
Tonight, the UCLA Bruins will host the UC Berkeley Golden Bears at the Rose Bowl at 7:30 pm PT. Because it’s the last home game of the regular season, it is Senior Night.
It will be interesting to see if which seniors who have eligibility left due to COVID choose to participate in the Senior Night ceremonies and which don’t. Of course, that’s not necessarily indicative of who will and won’t return for next season, but it could give us an idea of who may be leaving the program.
As for the game itself, a win by the Bruins will complete a sweep of the Pac-12 California schools, which doesn’t say a lot as all four Pac-12 California schools haven’t had great seasons, but it would give the Bruins bragging rights as the Pac-12 California State Champs.
Last week, the Golden Bears crushed Stanford in the Big Game, 41-11. With a record of 4-6, the Bears will need to win out to become bowl eligible. Not only that, but if UC Berkeley wins tonight and next week against Southern Cal, they would complete a sweep of the Pac-12 California schools and earn those bragging rights.
The Bears head coach is still Justin Wilcox, who is now in his fifth season at the helm in Berkeley. There has been speculation that he could be on the short list to replace Jimmy Lake at Washington since Wilcox spent two seasons as the Huskies’ head coach.
Bill Musgrave is in his second season as the Bears’ offensive coordinator. Musgrave is an experienced offensive coordinator who will likely have the Berkeley offense prepared to face Jerry Azzinaro’s defense.
Peter Sirmon is now in his fourth season at UC Berkeley and his second season as the team’s defensive coordinator. He has previously coached with Wilcox at both USC and Washington. Since joining the Berkeley staff, Sirmon is responsible for developing the nation’s leading tackler consensus first-team All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year ILB Evan Weaver back in 2019.
Ethan Garbers, the older brother of UCLA backup QB Chase Garbers, will start at quarterback for the Golden Bears. Garbers has completed just over 64% of his passes this season while throwing 16 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He’s been averaging almost 250 yards passing per game, which makes him a threat to pick apart the Bruin defense just like opposing quarterbacks have done over the past four years to Jerry Azzinaro’s defense.
The Golden Bears have employed a rushing attack by committee this season. They have three different players averaging more than 47 yards per game, but not of them are averaging more than 51 yards per game.
Sophomore Damien Moore leads the team with 516 net rushing yards while senior Christopher Brooks isn’t far behind with 497 net rushing yards. Garbers rounds out the Bears’ trio with 424 net yards which, of course, adds another dimension to the Bears’ offensive attack.
You don’t average nearly 250 yards passing per game without some receivers to throw to. Senior receiver Nikko Remigio has been Garbers’ favorite target this season. But, despite catching 32 balls, he is averaging just 5.25 yards per catch.
Kekoa Crawford has made 31 catches and he is averaging 14.48 yards per catch, but he has yet to find the end zone.
The Bears’ leading receiver in terms of yards per catch is Trevon Clark who is averaging 20.83 yards per catch. He also leads the team with 4 touchdown receptions in addition to being the team’s deepest threat with an 84-yard catch against TCU.
So, Garbers will have plenty of targets to choose from against Azzinaro’s defense.
UC Berkeley’s defense is led by redshirt senior safety Daniel Scott, who has 60 tackles on the season. Elijah Hicks is the other safety and he’s second in tackles with 56. The two safeties also are tied with freshman linebacker Nate Rutchena for the team lead in interceptions. Each player has three.
The pass rush is led by defensive end Ethan Saunders who has the most sacks on the team with three and a half.
Sirmon runs a standard 3-4 defense which has allowed an average of just 121 yards rushing per game. So, look for the Berkeley defense to focus on the Bruin running backs in an attempt to shut down UCLA’s offense.
I have a bad feeling about tonight’s game. Like most Bruin fans at this point, I have absolutely no confidence in Azzinaro’s ability to stop opposing offenses and I fully expect the elder Garbers to pick the pass defense apart.
Then, knowing that the Bears’ defense is allowing just 121 yards rushing per game, I’m concerned about the ability of the running game to get the job done for UCLA.
While I certainly hope I’m wrong, this game gives me the feeling that the Bears will score a lot of points and win the game on their last drive of the game.
UCLA Football (7-4, 5-3)
Opponent: UC Berkeley Golden Bears (4-6, 3-4)
Series Record: UCLA leads, 56-34-1
When: 7:30 pm PT, Saturday, November 27, 2021
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
TV: Fox Sports 1 with Aaron Goldsmith and Mark Helfrich
Live Stream: FoxSports.com and the Fox Sports app
AM 570/1150 in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin, Matt Stevens and Wayne Cook
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 108 & XM Ch. 198 (UCLA Call)
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast