BERKELEY, Calif. – Brett Hundley is closing in on UCLA's record for career touchdown passes, a mark the junior quarterback will likely break within the next week or two.
If Hundley can't get the Bruins to snap out of their two-week slide, it might not matter much.
UCLA has lost its last two games since a 35-point blowout win over No. 17 Arizona State on Sept. 25, putting a significant dent in the Bruins' hopes of winning the Pac-12 South for the third time in four years.
It also touched off tempers on the sideline.
Coach Jim Mora and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich got into a heated discussion during the second quarter last week in a 42-30 loss to No. 9 Oregon. That came on the heels of a humbling 30-28 loss to Utah when the Bruins (4-2, 1-2) fell behind early and couldn't catch up.
Beating an improved but still-struggling California team would quiet some of the tempest.
The Golden Bears (4-2, 2-2) have their own record-breaking quarterback in Jared Goff. It's the defense that has been the biggest stumbling block in coach Sonny Dykes' second season.
Goff is the second-ranked quarterback in the Pac-12 and owns the fourth-highest passer efficiency rating in the country. Like Hundley, the sophomore already owns numerous school records and is closing in on the Bears' single-season mark for touchdown passes.
Cal's defense has been on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Bears have allowed at least 625 yards or more in offense in three of their past four games and have held only two teams below 31 points.
Hundley had his way against Cal in 2013 when he passed for a career-high 410 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-10 win over the Bears on Oct. 12, 2013.
The Bruins quarterback has 64 career touchdown passes, third on UCLA's career list. Though his overall numbers have dipped the past two weeks, Hundley needs five more touchdowns to move past all-time leader Cade McNown.
Here are some things to watch when Cal hosts UCLA:
SLOW STARTS: The Bruins are no strangers to slow starts under Mora. In 2012 they opened 1-2 in the conference then won five straight and made it to the Pac-12 championship game. The big difference? Mora wasn't feuding with his coaches and had the full support of his players in '12.
TWO DOWN, TWO BACK: Cal's secondary has been banged up most of the year and suffered a significant loss when safety Griffin Piatt, the team's leading tackler, suffered a season-ending torn ACL in last week's loss to Washington. Backup cornerback Joel Willis also went down with an ACL injury. The good news for Cal is that safeties Stefan McClure and Michael Lowe are both back in the lineup after being sidelined with injuries. Dykes said the team is also contemplating using wide receiver Bryce McGovern on defense.
GROUND FORCE: The Bears' biggest problems on defense have come against the pass and they'll get tested again this week by Hundley and his receivers. Cal also has to find a way to slow down UCLA sophomore running back Paul Perkins, who ran for 190 yards in the loss to Oregon. Perkins has rushed for 98 yards or more in five consecutive games and has scored three touchdowns.
CAST OF ONE: Cal backup running back Khalfani Muhammad underwent surgery on his broken thumb two weeks ago and will be playing with a cast on his left hand as a result. Muhammad leads the Bears with four rushing touchdowns and is also their top kickoff returner.
MEMORIES OF MEMORIAL: UCLA needs a win to get back into the hunt in the Pac-12 South. The Bruins also need a victory to snap a seven-game losing streak at Cal's Memorial Stadium where they haven't won since 1998.