Another rivalry game in the final week of the season, as the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears play in their make-up game after a cancellation two weeks ago. Along with the conference championships, there are a slew of other games that are being made up. The only reason Marshall and Virginia Tech are playing is because their game was cancelled in September and Tech needs one more win to become bowl eligible.
If they lost to Virginia, that game wouldn’t have been played. Their game was put back as a result of the hurricane on the east coast. Stanford and Cal were postponed because of the wildfires that made this game too dangerous to play. The air quality was too poor to put people out there and play football. They made the right decision to schedule this game for this week. It is the first Stanford-Cal game in 55 years that they have had to postpone.
Stanford and Cal both enter with records of 7-4. This game doesn’t have any implications when it comes to the postseason, but it could improve their bowl positioning with a win to move to 8-4. Bigger bowl games carry more money, so there is that going for the programs. But at the end of the day, it’s a rivalry game and bowls are rather meaningless. Players shouldn’t need any reason to get amped up for this matchup. The winner of this game will receive the Stanford Axe Trophy.
There’s also NFL scouts that will be paying close attention to this one. Bryce Love has taken a huge hit this season, as we’ve watched his yard per carry plummet from 8.1 yards a carry to 4.6 this season. He recorded 2,118 yards a season ago and is going into Cal with just 665 yards on the ground. It isn’t all his fault. He’s been dealing with a banged up left ankle since last season. Love was hobbling around late last year yet fought through it.
As far as his future is concerned, it would have been a better idea to rest instead of paying through major pain. There is also a beat up offensive line that he’s had to operate behind. It’s been tough sledding for him in a year that he could have been playing in the NFL. He wanted to get his degree, so credit him for that. However, his draft stock is in a downswing and he won’t be making the same money he would have made on a contract from last season.
The highest drafted Stanford Cardinal on offense may be JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Cal will have to watch out for him, as he’s already hauled in 14 touchdowns and has a couple of 3 touchdown performances this season. The Golden Bears’ defense has improved tenfold under head coach Justin Wilcox and will be their greatest asset in the Big Game against Stanford. Head below for our free Stanford vs. Cal pick.
Stanford Cardinal vs. Cal Golden Bears NCAAF Week 14 Betting Odds:
vs. Cal +3(-103)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Stanford vs. Cal Pick:
Stanford fended off UCLA last week in a wild 49-42 victory for the Cardinal. The offense was firing on all cylinders, with K.J. Costello torching the Bruins for 344 yards and 5 touchdowns. When him and Arcega-Whiteside get into a rhythm, they’re impossible to slow down. Costello connected with Arcega-Whiteside for 106 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also hit Trenton Irwin for 106 yards and a score. Love kept the defense honest with 85 yards on ground.
Love’s numbers are down, but Costello and the offense have been more dynamic through the air. Costello has thrown 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and has been on fire the last two weeks. He’s tossed 9 touchdowns and just 1 interception against Oregon State and UCLA. Costello heated up late last season as well, but that got to them the Pac-12 Championship, a game they barely lost to USC. The difference this season has been Bryce Love struggling and the defense giving up too many big plays.
Stanford ranks 19th in the FBS with 291.6 yards per game passing yards per game. They’ve had enough offense from Costello to be a better team, but unfortunately Love hasn’t been able to duplicate 2017 or 2016. Cal have gone from a pure offensive team to defense. Gone are the days of scoring 40 points a game and allowing 43 on defense. Wilcox has turned this team into what resembles more of a Big Ten team than Pac-12. They’re 113th in the nation with just 350 yards of offense per game. They’ve also scored 23.6 points per game compared to 30.2 for Stanford.
Chase Garbers has thrown 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions for Cal. They do not have a passing game to go keep up with Costello if that’s what this game turns into. The Golden Bears have scored less than 20 points five times this season, so if they can’t exploit holes in the Stanford defense, it’s going to be all Cardinal in this game. I don’t see it being all Cardinal for 4 quarters, the Cal defense will offer some resistance. However, expect Stanford to pull away late for their ninth win a row against Cal on Saturday. Garbers isn’t going to be able to stay on pace in a 34-24 or 30-23 win for Stanford.