Tonight’s game between the Oregon Ducks and the California Golden Bears looks to be a close, hard-fought contest. The oddsmakers have the spread at 3.5 points, with Cal as the home underdog.
With a bye week to prepare, Cal has a big advantage, especially with a superior coaching staff. Coach Wilcox and his crew will have the players ready.
This game might come down to 1) injuries, and 2) team speed. The Bears might be one of the slowest teams in the Pac-12, and Oregon may be the fastest. But Oregon’s run defense is excellent — so if the Bears try to pound away on the ground, like Stanford did in their 1st half against Oregon, they’ll lose.
The way to beat Oregon is in the air. Their best pass rusher may be injured, and without him, Chase Garbers should have time to find open receivers — if there are any. Oregon also has short DBs, so look for Moe Ways (#18, 6-4, 220lb) and Ian Bunting (#83, 6-7, 255lb) to get some chances. They won’t be able to out-run the Oregon DBs, but they could definitely out-jump them.
The running game for both teams will start with a few question marks. Oregon’s starting Sr RB Tony Brooks-James left the Stanford game with an injury, and is listed as doubtful. For 3 of his 4 understudies at RB, this will be their first road game. They were responsible for some turnovers at Stanford, and might be vulnerable. Look for the Bears to do some stripping on defense.
If the Bears can get to QB Justin Herbert and get him to rush his throws, there may be some picks for the Cal defense. The risk is in giving up big plays. FS Ashtyn Davis (#27) has excellent speed, but overall the Bears are slower than the Ducks, and sooner or later, the Ducks are likely to pick up a blitz and break a big one.
The Cal Bears have the potential to beat the Ducks tonight, and I’m definitely hoping they will, in front of a raucous crowd (including the stellar Cal Alumni Band). However, Justin Herbert’s passing & running, along with the Ducks’ team speed, will likely be the difference in the game. I’ll cheer for the Bears, but the Ducks are the likely victors, by a TD.