PASADENA, California (Ticker) -- Two teams at the opposite ends of the Pac-10 Conference clash Saturday when sixth-ranked UCLA hosts winless California.
The Bruins (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) jumped into the national championship picture with a 35-13 victory over Washington last week, while California is off to the first 0-5 start in the school's 119-year history.
DeShaun Foster improved his Heisman Trophy chances by rushing for a school-record 301 yards and four touchdowns in the impressive win over the Huskies. Foster passed Maryland's Bruce Perry as the nation's leading rusher and is averaging 162.8 yards per game.
But it is UCLA's vastly-improved defense that has keyed the 5-0 start. The Bruins lead the Pac-10 in total defense (283.6 ypg) and scoring defense (12.6 ppg) and rank second in passing defense (184.4 ypg).
Senior linebacker Robert Thomas paces the defensive unit with 51 tackles, including 16 for losses, and four sacks.
UCLA has outscored its opponents, 82-32, in the first half and is even better in the third quarter with a 51-0 edge.
The Bruins will be without wide receiver Brian Poli-Dixon, who is expected to be sidelined two to three weeks with a dislocated left shoulder. He suffered the injury in the second half of last week's contest. The senior leads UCLA with 14 receptions for 234 yards this season and ranks fifth on the school's all-time list with 129 catches.
California (0-5, 0-2) is in the midst of a difficult stretch, playing its third straight ranked opponent. The Bears put up a strong fight in a 31-29 loss to Washington on September 29 but were blown out by Oregon, 48-7, last week.
The poor start has put coach Tom Holmoe's job in jeopardy. In his sixth year at California, Holmoe has just a 15-34 record.
Dating to last season, the Bears have dropped eight straight, matching the longest losing streak in school history. They are allowing 43.6 points per game and have been outscored by an average of 26 points per contest.
To make matters worse, quarterback Kyle Boller will miss the game with a back injury suffered last week. Senior Eric Holtfreter, who saw considerable action spelling Boller last year, will start in his place.
While the California program has fallen on hard times, the Bears have won the last two meetings with UCLA, although Foster missed both games due to injuries.
In their last trip to Pasadena in 1999, the Bears blanked the Bruins, 17-0, California's first shutout over UCLA since 1950. The Bears followed up that victory with a 46-38 triple-overtime win in Berkeley last year.
UCLA leads the overall series, 45-24-1.