The Jacob Eason era got off to a fast start for the Washington Huskies in Week 1. Eason threw for 349 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first touchdown pass since 2016 with the Georgia Bulldogs. He was not going to overtake Jake Fromm as the starter at UGA, so he transferred to a place where it was close to a lock that he would be playing.
Eason made a good choice with going to not only a place where he’s going to play, but for a competitor who has a shot at winning something. Washington did not have much of a test against Eastern Washington. However, they came prepared to play in a game they could have easily gone through the motions in.
The California Golden Bears will be in town for the first real test for both teams in the 2019 season. Cal were winners by a score of 27-13 against UC-Davis in Week 1. UC-Davis are a better team than advertised, so it could have been a trap spot for Cal to open the season.
They beat San Jose State last season, an FBS school, and then gave Stanford all they could handle in a 30-10 loss. The Golden Bears got a big performance out of running back Christopher Brown Jr. as he gashed the UC-Davis for 197 yards on 5.5 yards per carry. Marcel Dancy also rushed for 6.4 yards per carry on 6.4 yards per carry.
Justin Wilcox took the reins at Cal in 2017 and he immediately changed the culture at Cal. With Jared Goff off to the NFL, Cal needed to stop relying on having to score 50 points a game and rely more on a hardnosed defense. Wilcox has transformed the defense into the worst in the Pac-12 to one of the better units.
Cal beat Washington last season, 12-10, without having to score an offensive touchdown. That’s crazy to think considering where the Golden Bears were before Wilcox became head coach. Head below for our free Cal vs. Washington pick.
Cal Golden Bears vs. Washington Huskies NCAAF Week 2 Betting Odds:
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Cal vs. Washington Pick:
Cal leaned heavily on their defense to finish with a record of 7-5 going into the Cheez-It Bowl. Their defense was once again lights out against TCU, but it wasn’t enough in a 10-7 loss. Put this defense with the Jarred Goff team and Cal are going to be favorites in the Pac-12. I will say, though, that there isn’t nearly as much pressure on the defense than in the past. The Golden Bears play the ball possession game instead of going lightning fast. The defense had no time whatsoever to rest.
The Golden Bears finished 16th nationally in 2018 with just 319 yards allowed per contest. They also allowed just 21.4 points per game. And this was in the Pac-12 where they had to play some really good offenses. Cal weren’t beating up against offenses who couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. Arizona, Washington State, Oregon, USC, and Stanford were all on their schedule. Going back to last season is sometimes meaningless given roster turnover, but Cal return pretty well everyone defensively.
This is a veteran group, with everyone back on defense. Over their last seven games of the 2018 season, Cal allowed just 14.9 points per game. They could have been even better last season if linebacker Cameron Goode didn’t blow out his knee early in 2018. He has been healthy and looked strong against UC-Davis, contributing to the win with a sack. They’re certainly one of the most underrated defenses in the country.
Quarterback Chase Garbers is back for Cal as well. Wilcox hopes to see him take major leaps forward after throwing for 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions a season ago. Garbers rushed for 420 yards and 2 touchdowns as well. He faces a tough matchup against a solid Washington defense. However, there isn’t much experience on the Huskies.
Seniors Benning Potoa’e and Myles Bryant are the only returning starters. The secondary saw four of five players graduating. They’re going to be tough, but can’t see them being as strong as last season early in the year. This should allow Garbers and the Cal offense to play competitively enough against the Huskies in Washington. 14 points seems like a lot of points given Cal’s ability defensively. Washington likely win, but the Golden Bears have a lot of value for the cover.