PASADENA — When Cal coach Jeff Tedford saw nose tackle Derrick Hill and wide receiver Nyan Boateng getting ready to shower him with the obligatory tub bath Saturday, he didn't make much of an effort to avoid it.
This was one celebration he was going to soak up.
Tedford got doused just seconds before the Bears polished off a 45-26 victory over UCLA in front of 67,317 at the Rose Bowl. It was the first road win at either UCLA or USC in Tedford's seven-plus seasons at Cal, and the tub bath served as a refreshment after a game played in heat that reached triple-digits.
"It felt good, for a lot of reasons," Tedford said.
Saturday gave Tedford the first victory of his career in Southern California, but, more important, it
put an end to an ugly two-game losing streak that had the Bears' season on the brink. Instead of setting up a showdown for last place this week against Washington State, Cal (4-2, 1-2 Pac-10) is once again feeling good about itself with three of its next four games at home.
"We've been talking the last two weeks that it's a new season now," Tedford said. "We start over right now and it's a new season. I've been pleased the last two weeks with the attitude, the preparation, the togetherness of the team. When a lot of things are against you, you can really learn a lot and teach a lot to young people. I was really pleased with the mind-set of our players."
The Bears got it done with a renewed passing game and inspired play by backup running back Shane Vereen, who rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown and also handled kick return and punt return duties. Quarterback Kevin Riley threw three touchdown passes, two to wide receiver Marvin Jones, and the defense forced the Bruins into four field goals once deep in Cal territory.
Jahvid Best rushed for 102 yards, with 93 coming on a touchdown run in the second quarter. It was the third-longest run in Cal history.
But Best also was bothered by cramps and shortness of breath, and Vereen filled in admirably.
"I just wanted to do everything I could for my team, for the rest of the guys on the field," Vereen said. "I knew if I was able to do my job it would make everyone's life easier and they were able to do their jobs. Whenever my number's called, I just try to go out and do my job 100 percent every single time."
Vereen handled punt returns after Syd'Quan Thompson was forced out of the game with a hip pointer. He added 56 yards in returns and 20 in receptions for 230 all-purpose yards.
"Shane was big. Shane made play after play," Tedford said. "He left it all on the field today."
It was apparent pretty early that the Bears passing attack would enjoy a resurgence, despite UCLA (3-3, 0-3) having entered the day with the Pac-10's top pass defense (162 yards allowed per game). Riley's 205 passing yards weren't spectacular, but he was an efficient 14-for-23 and had touchdown passes of 43, 51 and 24 yards.
Riley connected with Jones for a 16-yard gain on the Bears' third play from scrimmage, something that would have seemed like a major accomplishment in the past two games. Later in the first quarter, Riley made a perfect pass down the middle to Jones for his first scoring strike.
Riley had Best and wide receiver Jeremy Ross both wide open down field on a play early in the second quarter, and Best easily beat UCLA linebacker Kyle Bosworth for the 51-yard score.
"To start off the game, we were seeing things really well," Riley said. "You have games where you can see things better than others, and today was one of them. It feels good. Right from the get-go, you could see our offense go back to what we did the first three games."
Vereen's 42-yard touchdown run to cap off the Bears' opening drive ended a stretch of 1:25:41 of game clock in which Cal didn't reach the end zone. After failing to score a touchdown against Oregon and USC, the Bears' offense got into the end zone five times against the Bruins.
Boateng said offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig lit into the offense at a team meeting Friday night.
"He was very upset about what's been going on the last two weeks," Boateng said. "We felt like we had to step up and get this win for him."
UCLA moved the ball freely for much of the game, a disturbing development for Cal's defense because the Bruins entered the day ranked 114th nationally in total offense (282.8 yard per game). They amassed 448 yards against the Bears.
But Cal's defense made some big plays when necessary. Linebacker Eddie Young had a sack on third down in the fourth quarter and Mychal Kendricks put the game out of reach with a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"Our preparation the last two weeks was that we need to stick together," Tedford said. "As naysayers and critics step up, the people in that locker room are the ones who believe in each other. I thought we did a nice job of playing hard for each other. I was pleased with the way the guys hung in there."
Washington State, 1:30 p.m.