The Friday night lights are on again for college football and while tonight’s match up isn’t exactly that scintillating, what else are you going to do? Watch the 3rd night of the NBA season? Check out network reruns? That’s what I thought.
The California Golden Bears come into this one reeling. They’ve lost their last 5 out of 7 and while the Arizona State Sun Devils and Ohio State Buckeyes games were actually tossups, the last two losses have been brutal beat downs. Add in a knee injury to star receiver Keenan Allen and the final two games versus the Oregon schools, Jeff Tedford better get it done tonight. Speaking of Coach Tedford, when is he considered to be on the hot seat? He’s been at Cal forever and has a substantial buyout but expectations were high this season especially with the beautiful stadium renovation the school invested in. His team actually started fine, considering the schedule, although now they are down a familiar path of late season folding. If the Golden Bears don’t win tonight I expect Tedford to be out. Making a bowl game is all but a pipe dream.
Meanwhile, things are looking somewhat up for the Washington Huskies. Head coach Steve Sarkisian’s bunch has had to deal with a brutal schedule and despite that they’ve knocked off two top 10 ranked teams at home in the Stanford Cardinal and the Oregon State Beavers just last week. Going on the road though has been another story. While the competition away from Century Link Field has been fierce they have barely shown up. The blame for me clearly goes on the offense. When you have a quarterback like Keith Price and a running back like Bishop Sankey you need to invest in an offensive line that can protect them. Neglecting that has cost the Huskies dearly. Defensively the switch to a 3-4 hasn’t seen much success. They still can’t get much of a pass rush and that is putting a lot of pressure on the secondary although they played rather well when called upon. The schedule is manageable the rest of the way. A win tonight and they could finish at 8-4 and grab an invite to a rather nice bowl game.
What I’m Looking For Tonight:
1) Who steps up in Keenan Allen’s place?
I don’t think it will be through the passing game. I expect a lot of carries for C.J. Anderson and Brendan Bigelow. They both have talent and that allows you to take the ball out of Zach Maynard‘s hands. His inconsistency has been remarkable to watch this year. You literally don’t know what you’re going to get from play to play, let alone game to game. Jeff Tedford should use Bigelow in a bunch of different formations. He nearly won the Ohio State game himself.
2) Is this the week Washington’s offense lives up to preseason billing?
I think it is. Despite their struggles on the road they are going to have that marquee game and it’ll come this week. Cal’s defense was phenomenal last year but this year has been a completely different story. They are only eighth in the conference in pass efficiency.
3) What kind of game should you expect?
A shootout is what I’m anticipating. Washington can’t stop the run and unless Tedford is stubborn expect to see a lot of big rips from his running game. Cal has a lot of trouble stopping the pass and they don’t have a phenomenal pass rush to offset trouble in the back end.
Prediction: Washington 35-31.