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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

California at Washington St.

When/where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Martin Stadium, Pullman

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Records: California (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12); WSU (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12))

Line: WSU by 4.5

Last time: Washington State defeated California 44-22 in Berkeley (2013)

What it means for WSU: The Cougars have gotten better in each of the last three weeks and they just need that trend to continue. Washington State can enter the regular season’s second half with a .500 record, a winning Pac-12 record and a lot of momentum if they win on Saturday.

What it means for Cal: The Golden Bears are obviously much improved compared to last year, but face a very tough second-half schedule including five teams ranked in the national Top 25. A Pac-12 road win over a team that doubled their score in Berkeley last season would set up the Bears well for a bowl-game push just one year after being a close win over Portland State away from a winless season.

Key matchup: WSU’s safeties vs. Cal’s receivers

Redshirt freshmen Darius Lemora and Sulaiman Hameed face an offense that has made its living with explosive plays so it will be very important for them to prevent Cal from turning big gains into backbreaking ones. Five Cal receivers have scored touchdowns of 60 or more yards, and running backs Daniel Lasco and Khalfani Muhammad have each scored on touchdown runs from 50 yards out. The Cougars will need the two safeties to be excellent at the back of the defense and not allow Cal players to get behind them.

Jacob Thorpe