PASADENA, Calif. — Brett Hundley reacted to the most prolific passing performance of his UCLA career with a dismayed shake of his head. Anthony Barr mostly remembered the plays that got away in another smothering defensive effort.
The 11th-ranked Bruins weren’t content with mere dominance against struggling California. They know they’ll have to be much closer to perfect to meet their tougher October challenges.
Hundley passed for a career-high 410 yards and three touchdowns, and Paul Perkins rushed for an early score in a 37-10 victory over Cal on Saturday night.
Devin Fuller, Thomas Duarte and Shaq Evans caught touchdown passes as the Bruins (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) grinded out a win over their upstate UC rivals in their final rehearsal for back-to-back road games at Stanford and Oregon.
UCLA wasn’t perfect, but a 488-yard offensive performance was enough to beat the Golden Bears (1-5, 0-3).
“There is a lot left out on the field, and we can get that much better,” Hundley said. “I did all right. I did OK. It just shows me personally, I can do so much more.”
UCLA struggled with nine penalties and an unimpressive running game in the absence of injured tailback Jordon James, but Hundley went 31 for 41 while picking apart the Bears’ injury-depleted defense and avenging the Bruins’ embarrassing loss in Berkeley last season.
The Bruins didn’t exactly dazzle a near-sellout Rose Bowl crowd celebrating coach Jim Mora’s unbeaten team, but the defense made sure Cal never threatened to make it a game in the second half.
“I think we did a good job, but we know we have to be better,” said Barr, who had an early sack and two tackles for losses. “We got them down, and they had to throw the ball a little more, and we took care of it after that.”
The test should prove valuable to a team that must figure out how to move the ball against the Cardinal’s sturdy defense and slow down the Ducks’ speedy offense in consecutive weeks to stay in the national title hunt.
Jared Goff passed for 215 yards in the freshman’s first game since his school-record 504-yard performance for Cal. Daniel Lasco rushed for the only touchdown for the Golden Bears, who still haven’t beaten an FBS opponent midway through coach Sonny Dykes’ first season.
“Defensively, we played well enough at times to give us a chance to win,” Dykes said. “There’s a lot of ways we’ve got to get better, but defensively, I thought those guys improved.”
Khalfani Muhammad rushed for 63 yards for Cal, which also committed nine penalties and failed to execute in tough offensive situations.
Perkins had just 36 yards rushing while starting in place of James, who hurt his ankle in last week’s win at Utah. Simon Goines moved to left tackle and freshman Caleb Benenoch took over at right tackle on the UCLA offensive line after starting left tackle Torian White was lost for the regular season last week.
The Bruins’ running game was mostly weak, but Hundley completed 13 straight passes during the first half, showing off his pocket poise to the usual gathering of NFL scouts hoping he’ll pass up his final two years of eligibility this winter.
“Thought it was all right,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said of Hundley’s performance, the third-best in UCLA history. “Obviously, with that statement, you see our expectations of him.”
UCLA, which leads the FBS in penalties for the second straight season, repeatedly was slowed by flags early. Fuller still turned a short screen pass into an 18-yard TD with a romp through the secondary for the Bruins’ first touchdown, and Perkins scored from 1 yard out early in the second quarter to put UCLA up 17-0.
The Bear Raid offense had trouble early on, managing just one first down on Cal’s first five possessions. When the Bears got moving, they struggled to execute on the Bruins’ end of the field.
“It’s just something we can’t allow to happen,” Goff said of the Bears’ 4-for-17 effort on third downs. “Offensively, we got stuff going, but we could never really finish it off. The defense gave us a chance to win, and we didn’t really back them up very well.”
Cal finally responded with consecutive scoring drives aided by another batch of penalties against the Bruins.
Cassius Marsh, UCLA’s starting right defensive end, was thrown out of the game in the second quarter for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he committed back-to-back offsides penalties. Lasco capped that 81-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run, and the Bears trailed just 17-10 just 2½ minutes before halftime.
But Hundley calmly engineered a 73-yard drive in just 1:50, finding Duarte right down the middle for a 27-yard score.
UCLA’s offense struggled again after halftime, but cornerback Randall Goforth’s 31-yard interception return led to another field goal. The Bruins put it away with 4:41 to play when Evans caught a short pass and sliced through the Cal defense for a 22-yard score.