Washington Huskies (8-0 SU, 5-3 ATS) vs. California Golden Bears (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: WASH -16/CAL +16
Over/Under Total: 78.5
The Washington Huskies come to Berkeley to take on the California Golden Bears in Pac-12 action on Saturday. This is a sketchy game for a Washington team that looks to have the world at their feet. Cal is pretty soft on defense and looks to be easy pickings for the smooth-running Huskies offense. But they are also a dangerous and high-flying offensive team with a lot of heart. In their last game, they were flat in a 45-24 loss at USC. Washington passed a stern test by beating Utah, 31-24, on the road in a big win over a tough ranked Utah team. They look for another big road win this week at Cal.
We had noted how hectic the Cal schedule had been lately. A late Saturday overtime battle-royale against Oregon was followed with a tough Thursday road test at the LA Coliseum. Cal was understandably off their best form. With the long week leading up to this game and with it being at home, maybe they will be more effervescent on offense. We know out of the gate that the Cal defense is a veritable laughingstock. They allow an average of almost 42 points a game. It's a ramshackle unit that has been ravaged by injuries. Their secondary bears no resemblance to the unit that was supposed to be in place before the season began. But the front has been even more miserable. Running backs are getting past this bunch with frightening regularity. Opposing offenses almost need to try to not get first downs in order to fail. The amount of good plays being put forth by this "D" are few indeed.
By the same token, the most-dangerous opponents in any sport are the ones who can do one thing really well. In boxing, for example, if a champion is fighting an underdog, you wouldn't want to pick a dog who is just solid and capable in an all-around sense without being spectacular in any one area. You'd want to pick an opponent who has a big punch. And Cal is that kind of opponent, outgunned in all areas by the Huskies, but with the element of danger in an offense that can really do damage. But let's not get carried away. The Cal offense has been contained by the better defenses they have played. And with the Cal "D," a game against a top team that is complete like the Huskies always looms as a possible blowout.
Cal has been bolstered by the big arm of Davis Webb, who will surpass 3000 yards early in this game. They can run the ball at nearly 5 yards a clip. WR Chad Hansen's ankle is giving his trouble and he has missed the last two games. They still have ample targets, though they could use his return after the long week. But a lot of different guys have delivered on this offense and they can put up points in a hurry. Could this just be a good week to catch the Huskies in a lull in a sandwich game with Utah last week and a surging USC coming into town after this game? Either way, expect a good Cal effort on Saturday.
The Huskies really had their hands full against a home Utah team that can run the ball and play good defense. To pull out a close road win showed yet another dimension of this team, though they had already done that in an overtime win over Arizona earlier this season. Washington got off to a fast start on Saturday, taking a 14-0 early second quarter lead. By the third quarter, with the Utes "D" doing a good job, Utah took a 17-14 lead. Washington took a 24-17 lead, before Utah tied it again in the fourth quarter. And with under 4 minutes left, Huskies' speedster Dante Pettis returned a punt for a TD to notch the win.
On the road against a good Utah defense, Washington QB Jake Browning was hardly electric with just 12 completions and a pick. He did throw two TD scores and kept the team in the game despite the opposing "D" giving them trouble. He connected well with receiver John Ross, who caught two TD passes. The offense was given a big boost by running back Myles Gaskin, who ran for 151 yards and a touchdown. And while he didn't make much of a dent in the passing game, Pettis' late dramatics were obviously key. This Huskies team is the 4th highest scoring team in the nation, so it was good to see them win more of a grinding game where they had to be more patient and resourceful.
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The Washington defense may not have been at its best on Saturday, with Utah putting up nearly 400 yards of offense. Still, even with that, they've allowed an average of less then 16 points a game this season. Opposing quarterbacks have really taken a bath against this group, perhaps the stoutest in the conference. Utah's Joe Williams, however, did put up 175 yards rushing against Washington, as run-defense has been an issue. Still, this side of the ball is a team asset. They get after the quarterback and get turnovers as well as any defense on the west coast.
Again, Washington is coming off a tough one against Utah and has USC lying ahead the following week after this. After going into Utah, they now come into Northern Cal and with 3 of their last 4 on the road, they could be getting a tad weary. They've only covered the spread twice in their last six games. You just have to wonder if this is all timing out right for them to thrive this week as a road favorite. And perhaps it's not. I see a bit more of a grind for the Huskies this week, with the Golden Bears covering the big number.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the California Golden Bears plus 16 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Huskies vs. Golden Bears game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!