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Washington State Cougars vs. California Golden Bears Point Spread - Pick

Washington State Cougars (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. California Golden Bears (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Friday, October 13, 2017 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: WSU -13.5/CAL +13.5
Over/Under Total: 53.5

The Washington State Cougars take their 6-0 record into Berkeley to face the California Golden Bears in a Pac-12 matchup on Friday night. Cal certainly has their work cut out for them, but also has a chance to score a huge upset at home against a WSU bunch that has their eyes set on big things. On Saturday, they stayed on-target with a nice 33-10 win over Oregon on the road. They now look for back-to-back road wins against the Golden Bears. Cal came up short on Saturday, losing and not covering the spread against the Washington Huskies in a 38-7 loss. It's been a rough patch the last few weeks after a promising start for the Cal Golden Bears. They look for better at home this week against the favored Cougars.

The Washington St. story is a good one. A long maligned program that struggled to keep up with its peers in the Pac-12, they slowly built up their credentials, first just becoming respectable and now something much more than that. Mike Leach's coaching and the arm of QB Luke Falk have been big parts of the equation and we see them in fine form heading into this game, with four straight covers. They have looked better since coming back to beat Boise State after falling far behind. That inspirational comeback seemed to open up the floodgates. The way they hung in there and came with the right answers late to beat a top-five USC team was a big moment and the way they separated themselves from Oregon was also big on Saturday.

Falk threw three more touchdowns on Saturday, bringing his season total to 19, against only two picks. He already has 2000 yards through the air, while completing nearly 72% of his throws. His weapons are numerous. On the ground, Jamal Morrow, James Williams, and Gerard Wicks are viable forces and help take some attention off the high-flying aerial attack, as the Cougars are far from one-dimensional. In the air, Tavares Martin, Jr. has been big, with 7 touchdowns, along with big-time receiving talent like Renard Bell, Isaiah Johnson-Mack, and Kyle Sweet. Falk also connects well with his running backs with short passes. In this offense, there is room for a lot of stars to shine.

The Washington State defense has a nice front, if not a little undersized. They have been decent against the run, while also letting the back-seven shine. In the middle, there is a lot of talent too, with Frankie Luvu getting a sack on Saturday, with young Jahad Woods and Dylan Hanser all over the field. The secondary rallies and gets tackles almost without fail. It's a part of the team that really gets after it and thus far in 2017, they stand out as perhaps the best secondary in the conference. Holding Sam Darnold to 164 yards a few weeks ago against USC was a major coup. On Saturday, Robert Taylor and Marcus Strong both had interceptions against Oregon, with safety Hunter Dale a major factor on blitz-packages. This part of the team is no longer a liability and at times, they're really an asset. If they can keep shutting down opposing quarterbacks, they could help take this group very far.

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Hopes were elevated after Cal started the season 3-0, with wins over North Carolina and Ole Miss. And even in the loss to USC, they were fairly gritty and managed to cover the spread. They then faced a tough back-to-back road sequence against Oregon and Washington and their performances left a lot to be desired. A defense that looked improved started looking like the Cal defenses of their recent past. And offensively, they just weren't able to keep pace and were quickly taken out of the games. It's been a little upsetting how Cal hasn't been able to transfer their early-season success to the meat of their conference schedule. But they've been in some tough spots. Not that Washington State is a good spot, but at least they get this one at home. At the same time, we'll see how they hold up, as their schedule has been brutal through 6 games.

The Cal offense wasn't up to the task on Saturday, but let's remember that Washington's defense is among the stingiest in the country. Still, just one third-quarter touchdown made up the sum total of their scoring on Saturday and that came from a defensive touchdown. It wasn't a pretty sight. But a lot of teams have been smashed by Washington over the past two seasons and not all of them were bad. Still, Cal managed a paltry 46 yards of offense in the first half and was never in the game. QB Ross Bowers was under siege all evening and never had a chance to find his footing in the game. He was sacked seven times. The less said about the Cal offense last Saturday, the better. They just didn't do anything right.

We have seen the Cal defense make some strides this season. It's all relative. Just looking at them now, there isn't anything to be impressed with perhaps, but looking at them over the years, one can see progress. That rings empty after they have allowed 83 points in the last two games, but that number would have been a lot higher in recent seasons. LB Devante Downs is one of the best in the conference and Evan Weaver is a good running-mate. They're heading in the right direction, but it's not going to happen overnight. At least they're not the laughingstock they have been in recent seasons.

Cal is starting to show signs of wear. And a lot of teams would after a tough back-to-back road sequence against Oregon and the Huskies. Cal has just been in a lot of tough spots for a season that is at the midway point and they still have 6 conference games that lie ahead. You wonder if their preliminary pluck will dissolve at some point. Washington State is flying high. And with teams like the Cougars who finally strike gold after decades of struggle, they're not likely to phone it in, even against a team they beat by 35 points last season. Falk threw five touchdowns against Cal last season and even if his numbers don't match last season's production, I see them taking it to the Cal Bears this week.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Washington State Cougars minus 13.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Washington State vs. Cal game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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