Time: 7 p.m., Saturday. TV: FSN
The records: WSU (3-5, 1-4 in Pac-10), California (5-3, 2-3)
Last week: WSU defeated UCLA 27-7; Cal lost to then 7th-ranked Arizona State, 31-20.
Last time: WSU lost 21-3 in Pullman last season.
The line: Cal by 14.5.
What it means for WSU: One win against one of the Pac-10’s upper echelon teams is nice; two would constitute a trend. The problem with that statement is WSU might not be playing one of the Pac-10’s upper echelon teams this week (see next section). Still, as the line indicates, a win in Berkeley would be an upset and would give the Cougars momentum down the stretch. As an added bonus, a win would give WSU hope for a bowl berth, something that seemed all but dead a week ago.
What it means for Cal: The Bears have gone from No. 2 in the nation – and knocking on No. 1’s door – to No. 6 in the conference in the space of three weeks. Cal needs a win badly to salvage this season and restore coach Jeff Tedford’s reputation. Tedford’s teams had never lost three consecutive games until last Saturday’s defeat at Arizona State, a game in which the Bear offense looked inept in the second half.
Key matchup: WSU cornerbacks Chima Nwachukwu and Devin Giles vs. Cal wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Everybody double teams the Pac-10’s most explosive receiver, so don’t expect either of the Cougar corners to be left alone with Jackson. But few teams blitz as much as WSU, so there has to be times when help may be slow in coming. In those situations, Nwachukwu and Giles have to force Jackson to catch the ball in front of them, then make sure they make contact and keep contact. They don’t have to make the tackle, they just have to make sure they don’t whiff. They just have to hold on until the cavalry arrives.