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Sports >  WSU football

First look: Cal at (10) Washington State

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 29, 2018

California quarterback Chase Garbers, right, hands off the ball to Patrick Laird (28) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Berkeley, Calif. (Ben Margot / AP)
California quarterback Chase Garbers, right, hands off the ball to Patrick Laird (28) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Berkeley, Calif. (Ben Margot / AP)

What is it? No. 10 Washington State (7-1, 4-1) returns home to the Palouse to take on California (5-3, 2-3) in a Pac-12 North matchup.

Where is it? Martin Stadium in Pullman.

When is it? Kickoff is 7:45 p.m. Saturday.

Where can I watch it? ESPN will carry the live broadcast.

Who is favored? The Cougars were favored by 10 1/2 points as of Monday morning.

How did they fare last week? Both teams won games in the Bay Area. Cal toppled No. 15 Washington 12-10 in Berkeley, while then-No. 14 Washington State edged No. 24 Stanford 41-38 on The Farm.

Why Cal will win: The defense hasn’t been consistent for Cal the whole season, but the last two weeks would indicate the Golden Bears are just starting to find their groove on that side of the ball. In wins over Oregon State and No. 15 Washington, Cal conceded just two touchdowns and 17 points. The Golden Bears didn’t give up more than 250 offensive yards to either team, allowing the Beavers to pile up 241 and the Huskies 250. Tim DeRuyter’s defense is especially strong against the pass, ranking first in the Pac-12 and eighth nationally, allowing 165 yards per game through the air. Cal also leads the conference with 12 interceptions. WSU’s Air Raid offense had little success the last time the teams met and weather forecasts are calling for rain showers Saturday night, along with 12 mile-per-hour wind gusts.

Why WSU will win: If you don’t include Cal’s 49-7 win over Oregon State – the conference’s worst defense by a mile – the Golden Bears are scoring just 15 points per game against Pac-12 opposition. So even if Gardner Minshew and the passing game are affected by conditions, or Cal’s defense, the Cougars could hit half of their per-game scoring average – right now a conference-leading 40 ppg – and still escape with a victory. The Golden Bears are adept at intercepting the opponent, but they also throw plenty of their own. Chase Garbers and Brandon McIlwain, who’ve shared quarterbacking duties, are up to 11 interceptions and 11 touchdowns this season. Neither could get Cal’s offense into the end zone against UW and the Golden Bears had to rely on a pick-six and two field goals to get their 12 points.

What happened last time? WSU held the nation’s No. 8 ranking and a 6-0 record when it traveled to Berkeley last season on Friday the (Oct.) 13th. The Cougars had an early kickoff return for a touchdown wiped out on a holding call and never got into the end zone in a 37-3 upset loss. It was a harrowing performance for Luke Falk and the WSU offense, which turned the ball over seven times. Falk completed 28 of 43 passes for 286 yards and was intercepted a career-high five times. Cal quarterback Ross Bowers threw one touchdown pass and rushed for another, producing one of the highlight moments of the Golden Bears’ season when he front-flipped over WSU’s Justus Rogers in the fourth quarter to make it 27-3.

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