I always try and include a Pac-12 After Dark play for people on the west coast and people who want a pick to round off your day, so here we go with the Oregon Ducks and California Golden Bears. As you already notice, I’m going way on the other side of the public on this pick. Oregon is always a public play, and with this short spread, people will be loading up on the Ducks. Rightfully so, this is a team that has been one of the top teams in the conference for years, and Cal on the other hand, hasn’t been mentioned much since Jared Goff was on campus.
Those Goff teams had some of the worst defenses in the nation, so as a team, they weren’t able to accomplish much despite a prolific offensive attack. Tired of getting pushed around, Cal fired Sonny Dykes and hired Justin Wilcox. It didn’t take look for the Golden Bears to take on a new identity. They were no longer putting up whopping offensive numbers, but they were no longer a pushover defensively.
Instead of quick drives on offense, Wilcox offense stresses ball control and a balanced attack. It allows his defense, which is exponentially better than the Sonny Dykes days. If Cal could get a quarterback like Goff to come to Cal again, they would instantly be a contender. The defense is in place, but there are still some areas to improve on offense. The QB that they’re looking for could be on their roster with Chase Garbers. The Newport Beach native came to Cal as a 4-star recruit and the 12th best quarterback in the country. Garbers didn’t play a snap last season as a freshman, but is starting to show signs early this season that he could be the starter here for the next few years. His outing against BYU was the most impressive in his first collegiate start.
Oregon are coming off a heartbreaking loss against the Stanford Cardinal. They had no business losing that game, but Mario Cristobal and somehow screwed the pooch. It wasn’t one thing, but the worst was probably running the ball with around 1:30 left on the clock. Instead of taking a knee and winding the clock down, the Ducks ran the ball, fumbled, and of course they weren’t going to get any breaks after that. The loss was a kill shot to Oregon’s College Football Playoff chances. It’s going to be difficult for any Pac-12 team to reach the playoff with Stanford having a tough road to going undefeated. It’s going to be interesting to see how Cristobal and Oregon respond to that collapse a week head. Head below for our free Oregon vs. California pick.
Oregon Ducks vs. California Golden Bears NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. California +1.5(-107)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Oregon vs. California Pick:
Oregon have to put last week in the past and forget about how they defecated all over themselves. If they had a creampuff to play this week it would have been helpful, but they must travel to Cal where they get a physical Golden Bears team. California has essentially had two weeks to prepare for Oregon. They played Idaho State last week, a game they probably just skimmed over and focused more so on this matchup.
Cal go into Week 5 with an average of 302 yards allowed per game. That is good for 16th in the nation. They are 6th in the country with 4.22 yards allowed per game. The Cal defense has been outstanding on 3rd down. They have a defense that is designed to confuse opposing quarterbacks and they’ve executed it quite well. Offenses have converted on just 9-of-26 attempts on 3rd down. Quarterbacks have a 19.68 QB rating against the Golden Bear defense on 3rd down. Note that they have done a terrific job forcing turnovers as well. They are 11th in the country with a turnover differential of +1.5.
It is a stark contrast to the defense that was at Cal just a few years ago. They regularly allowed over 40 points a game. Oregon will undoubtably be their stiffest test, but I expect them to be jacked up to show that they are for real. They improved drastically a year ago and it looks like the Golden Bears are turning it up another notch this season. Oregon go from playing a physical Stanford team to having to turn around and play Cal on the road. Let’s not forget how they lost last week, too. It’s difficult for young college kids to put that in the past so quickly.
Cal quarterback, Chase Garbers, looked good against a quality BYU defense in his first ever start. He passed for 176 yards with 2 touchdowns and a 64.3 completion percentage. Garbers passed for 224 yards and 3 touchdowns against Idaho State. On the season, he’s passed for 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with a 68.2% of his passes getting completed. He stepped off the bench against North Carolina in his first college action in the opener to throw a touchdown. Look for Brandon McIlwain, a dual-threat quarterback, who has rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown see the field as well. He will give the Oregon defense a totally different look.
The public has predictably been hammering the Ducks. The line certainly doesn’t reflect that, though. There were some 3’s out there earlier in the week, and now it’s at 1.5 in most spots. I think Cal catches Oregon off guard and gives them all that they can handle. The spread is fishy here for a very good reason. Give me the home team to “upset” Oregon on Saturday night.