The Pac-12 opens up Week 9 with No. 6 Oregon facing California on Friday. The Golden Bears are coming off consecutive losses, while the Ducks are still smarting over their upset in Week 6 by Arizona. Oregon is still a contender for the BCS Playoffs, with Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota at the helm. Cal is looking to finish the season close to the top of the Pac-12 with a decent bowl game appearance. Even though Cal lost the past two games, it is a vastly different team than the 2013 crew that won only one matchup. The Golden Bears have shown up to every game and have given their competitors a run for their money. Friday’s affair against Oregon won’t be much different.
Oregon shouldn’t brush Cal off this year. While the Golden Bears were a joke during the 2013 season, they are currently No. 3 in the nation in passing offense, averaging 372 yards per game. Jared Goff has thrown 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions for 2,842 yards. Goff must throw the ball fast and far to match up with Mariota and his men. Cal also has an advantage since Oregon’s defense has not been very consistent. The Ducks are allowing an average of 449 yards per game. If Goff and his receivers can stay cool under pressure and efficiently move the ball, they can get past Oregon’s defense and score.
While Cal is handy at moving the ball, they are accident-prone when it comes to keeping a handle on it. The Golden Bears have turned the ball over 11 times this year. For Cal to stand a chance, they have to hold on to the ball. Oregon is extremely efficient at forcing turnovers and interceptions; Erick Dargan earned his fourth interception for the Ducks last week. Turnovers are Cal’s Achilles Heel. If Oregon brings the pressure and forces turnovers, the game will be over for the Golden Bears.
Ultimately, Cal still has a lot of polishing to do. While the talent is there, the Golden Bears are sloppy while handling the ball. Meanwhile, the Ducks’ offense is a well-honed machine that works flawlessly together and is known for racking up touchdown after touchdown. The game will be good to watch, but Oregon will win the contest once it hits its stride.
Prediction: Oregon 42, Cal 21