California at WSU
Time: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Records: WSU (2-4, 0-3 in Pac-12); California (2-4, 1-2 in Pac-12)
Last week: WSU lost to Oregon State, 19-6; California defeated UCLA, 43-17
Last time: California defeated WSU in San Francisco, 30-7, in 2011
The line: California by 7.5
What it means for WSU: Midway through the season, this might be the Cougars’ most winnable remaining game. Cal is one of two teams left on WSU’s schedule currently in possession of a losing record – the other is Utah – and the Bears hadn’t played well leading up to their big win over UCLA. Still, Cal proved it is capable enough to win a few games this year, so a defensive effort similar to the one WSU put forth against Oregon State might be necessary for the Cougars to pull this one out. They also must solve their offensive woes after scoring just six points last week and amassing only 227 yards of total offense.
What it means for California: A chance to get on a winning streak. Few saw the Bears’ 43-17 blowout of UCLA coming, especially after Cal’s 1-4 start had some wondering if coach Jeff Tedford’s job might be in jeopardy. One win won’t quiet that kind of speculation, but two wins in a row would help at least a little. Many will use this game to help decide whether the Bears truly are on to something and are ready to turn their season around, or if the UCLA win was just a fluke and the season is still going to be a frustrating one.
Key matchup: Cal’s running backs vs. WSU’s front seven.
C.J. Anderson carried a season-high 21 times for 151 yards against UCLA last week, but the Bears have two other capable backs – Isi Sofele and Brendan Bigelow – to occupy the Cougars’ attention, too. WSU limited Oregon State to 2 1/2 yards per carry last week, crediting its most complete defensive performance of the season to extra preparation both in practice and in the film room. The Bears’ passing game has been shaky with quarterback Zach Maynard at the helm, so another strong effort against the run might stifle Cal’s offense.