Let’s put last weekend’s game and all the horrible refereeing it contained behind us, and focus on what’s coming up this Saturday. The Beavers are back home to take on the California Golden Bears, a team that was thought to be on a big upswing headed into 2020. Many had them picked to finish second in the Pac-12 North, but in there first game last Sunday, they lost to UCLA, 34-10.
So, what’s going on with this team? Here’s what they look like.
Cal is one of the few teams the Beavers play this season that is not breaking in a new quarterback. Last season the Golden Bears didn’t lose any games when Chase Garbers was at the helm, but against UCLA he had one of the worst games of his career. He threw for 122 yards, with one interception and no touchdowns. It didn’t help that he was sacked five times, but 2020 Garber has to play a lot more like 2019 Garber if the Bears want to turn this season around.
The running game was even more anemic against the Bruins, with 53 yards total on the ground Garbers did manage to rush for one touchdown late in the fourth, but that was about it for the Cal offense. So what went wrong with the Golden Bears here?
It may just be rust. Cal’s first two games of the season were cancelled due to COVID-19, and Sunday’s game against the Bruins was thrown together close to the last minute. Cal didn’t have much time to prepare, and that showed. With more time, it’ll be interesting to see what this team looks like.
Expect them to try to get Garbers going early; with Oregon State struggling against Washington State’s Jayden de Laura, there may be potential there. The Beavers defense looked much better in the second half against Washington, so it may take some time for Cal too figure out how they want to attack.
The defensive side of the ball is where Cal might look the most different compared to last week. Cal was without most of their defensive line due to COVID restrictions, and it showed in their inability to stop UCLA’s run game. That won’t be the case this week, as the D-Line was able to practice this week.
They’ll still be without star Nose Tackle Aaron Maldonado, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season. With other players returning, including Maldonado’s replacement, freshman Stanley McKenzie, they should be better against the run. Whether they are better enough to handle Jermar Jefferson will be one of the big questions of the game.
The Linebacker group should be very good, but didn’t seem to show up last week. Kuony Deng was one of the Pac-12s top tacklers last season, and Cam Goode can produce a lot of quarterback pressure. The secondary is more questionable, as nearly all of the Bears starters in that unit are new this season.
The Vegas Lines have Cal -3 for this game.
Who knows at this point. Cal might be one of the biggest question marks in the conference. They looked very bad last week, with the offense, especially the run game, looking anemic. If running back Christopher Brown Jr. decides to make his presence felt, that would go a long way toward shifting Cal’s fortunes.
I still give the Beavers the edge here. The team seems to be coming together, and the defense in particular took a big step forward last week. With the Cal offense looking so bad, and the defense looking very questionable, I think the Beavers finally get a win.
Assuming the spots fall OSU’s way, of course.
- Time: 12:30 PT
- Date: Saturday, November 21st
- Location: Reser Stadium, Corvallis OR
- Broadcast: Fox Sports 1