Read the headline again. How many times have you seen words to that effect leading up to a football game? Probably many times, am I right? Never has it been more true than it is Saturday night at Husky Stadium. After running a gauntlet of the fast and powerful in Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State, the Washington Huskies are grateful beyond words to welcome into Seattle the California Golden Bears.
Not much has gone right for the Boys from Berkeley this season. They defend their 1-6 (0-4 in conference) record by talking about having a tough schedule. But really that only holds water if your team is competitive in, at least some of, the games. Cal has been outscored by 159 points in their seven games. That's an average of almost 23 points. While Cal's offense isn't spectacular, the Golden Bears problems are not primarily resulting from when they have the ball.
Bear quarterback Jared Goff is the second most prolific passer in the Pac-12, one spot ahead of ASU's Taylor Kelly who lit up the Huskies last Saturday. Goff, a true freshman from Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, California is completing 60% of his passes for 2256 yards with nine touchdowns against seven interceptions. Goff will be looking for sophomore wide receiver Chris Harper in an effort to keep his Golden Bears in the game.
The Golden Bears have, for all intents and purposes, no running game. Brendan Bigelow is their leading ball carrier, but he's only averaging 40 yards a game. His "breakout" rushing performance this season was 75 yards...against Portland State.
But California's major issues take place when the other team has the ball. Cal is 121st in the nation in total defense. There are only 123 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Golden Bears are yielding over 525 yards per game. A whopping 347 of those yards are surrendered through the air.
Enter Keith Price, embattled senior thrower for the Washington Huskies. In a season that has not gone according to plan for Price or Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, the Golden Bear's lack of defensive presence should be just what the doctor ordered. Price will look to get well by throwing to wide-outs Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith, as well as tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Running back Bishop Sankey, doubtless the Huskies' MVP to this point should find open areas to run through California's front line. Sankey, until recently the nation's leading rusher would like to regain that lofty perch. The Golden Bears might just be the conduit to that end.
Las Vegas lists Washington as a 27.5 point favorite. Wow, that's a ton of points for a conference game! Let's take the Bears at their word that their abilities exceed their performance to date and take the almost four touchdowns that we are being offered.
Cal at Washington is scheduled for an 8:05 p.m. PDT kickoff. The game can be seen on Fox Sports 1, and heard on the University of Washington IMG Radio Network. Radio pregame begins at 3:00 p.m.