The Roman has been on assignment on the other side of the planet (and still is) but it was time to check in on what’s going on this season. I had written a season preview and now I’m happy my own predictions did not come true (more on that later).
Playing Texas at this stage of the season is somewhat like cornering a bull in field – almost anything is going to happen and not much of that is going to be good. Cal has to be disciplined and not get baited or distracted by media, players, history, weather and the Austin music scene. The game could easily go sideways on penalties alone. Neither team has shown much in their first two starts so the playbooks are also wide open. We will probably see trick plays – early – from both sides hoping to seize the momentum.
Frankly, I did not expect Cal’s defense to play this well. Admittedly the competition has been weak, but they are tied for first in INTs, and all the other team defense stats are way above last year, including #14 in points allowed. My prediction was for Cal to win 3 of their first 4 while giving up a whole lot of points. That clearly isn’t going to happen for two reasons – both the ‘horns and the Dawgs have sputtering offenses and, more important, the Cal defense is just that much better. And 4-0 now looks achievable if the kids keep their heads screwed on.
My take: Cal by 7 is conservative – expect Cal to score early and often. The running attack will get on track as the Orange guys try desperately to stop the pass. Defense steps up again, rattling a freshman QB into mistakes.