Washington St. at California
Time: 1 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.
TV: Fox Sports 1
Records: WSU (3-2, 1-1 in Pac-12); Cal (1-3, 0-1 in Pac-12)
Last time: Cal defeated WSU in Pullman 31-17, in 2012
The line: No line has been posted
What it means for WSU: After a big setback on Saturday against Stanford, Washington State has a chance to demonstrate that the improvement shown in the first four games wasn’t just the result of two cupcake opponents and uncharacteristically bad Auburn and USC teams. More importantly, it’s an opportunity for the Cougars to pick up just their second conference road win in 2 1/2 half seasons. With a victory, WSU can cement itself as a dangerous team in the Pac-12 North. But if the Cougars lose, finding the wins to qualify for a bowl game will become a much more daunting proposition.
What it means for Cal: Things haven’t looked so bleak in Berkeley since Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy couldn’t coax the team above .500 in the 1960s. The Golden Bears have been handily beaten in every game except a narrow, seven-point victory over Portland State, and will be hard-pressed to match last season’s three wins. But WSU has a tenuous quarterback situation following an apparent injury to Connor Halliday. With Cal staring at a potential 1-11 record, the matchup with WSU presents something truly golden for the Bears: a winnable game.
Key matchup: Cal’s young offense vs. WSU’s ball-hawking secondary
The Bears from Berkeley couldn’t get much younger at the offensive skill positions. Quarterback Jared Goff is a true freshman. His favorite targets are sophomore receivers Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs. Couple that with a brand new head coach in Mike Leach-disciple Sonny Dykes and there’s not a whole lot of experience in Cal’s pass-happy offense. The Cougars are primed to take advantage of Cal’s youth with a defense that’s tied for second in the Pac-12 with seven passes picked off, including a pair for touchdowns.
Note: Washington State’s home football game against Oregon State on Oct. 12 will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and will air on ESPN2 or ESPNU.