The Cal Bears are on a roll! Two blowout victories, a resurgent defense, one of the top offenses in the nation; and they come to Texas (the Republic of Texassistan) to take on a football program that’s in turmoil — they’ve fired & replaced the Offensive Coordinator (OC), fired & replaced the Athletic Director (AD), their talented Defense has been gashed for big yards & points, and their offense has sputtered. Cal’s prospects for this marquee game, with a national TV audience, couldn’t be better…
However, I can’t jump on the bandwagon and predict another blowout:
- I think they (Texas) will use all of the recent turmoil to whip their players into an anti-Berkeley-radical frenzy, and start the game by dominating line play on both sides of the ball.
- I’m not sure how well Cal’s OL matches up with Texas’s DL. Jared Goff might not have enough time to attempt the deep throws. And I’m not counting on our OL to push their defense around. The running game will struggle.
- Daniel Lasco’s hip injury may be critical. If Goff is rushed, he’ll need a capable receiver at RB, and Lasco is the best in that regard. The others are definitely capable, but Lasco is best at making the catches and moving the chains.
- Jared Goff will get hit. If he gets hit a lot, he won’t be as effective. Remember the 2014 BYU game?
- Cal’s Defense has come a long way, but they’ll be facing a talented, albeit troubled, offense with some real scoring weapons in QB Jerrod Heard, et al. Besides, there isn’t that much film for Texas with Heard at the controls. He’ll get his yards (150 rushing), and wreak havoc at times.
- Jerrod Heard has the escapability to throw some long passes, and potentially do some damage. That, combined with Texas’s WR speed and Cal’s slower safeties, could be a problem. Expect 1 or 2 Texas TDs on bombs. Cal’s safeties will need to come up in run support and cover deep. If Heard has some early success running the ball, look for him to take a shot deep.
- Cal comes into the game favored; Texas, the underdog. In Texas. Advantage: Texas.
- In closer games, Special Teams becomes a greater factor. Vulnerabilities: Texas kick return teams vs. Cal’s coverage. Advantage: Texas.
- Remember Week 1 — Pac-12 teams had 3 weeks to read about how awesome they were. “The best conference in the nation.” The effects were devastating. It takes a lot of discipline to ignore the praises of respected, expert, unbiased elders, especially when hearing them for the first time. Overconfidence kills, even when your coaches are imploring you to not be overconfident. It happens, even with the best coaching.
- I sincerely hope I’m wrong on all of these points!
Prediction: Cal wins, but it’s closer than many Cal fans are predicting; 38-31, Cal.