The two top teams in the PAC 12 are in the same state, and no it isn’t California. Washington and Washington State lead the way, both playing undefeated football, and barring an upset, Washington State will head to 7-0 after Friday night. The Cougars head into Cal with a perfect mark, including a win over USC. Washington State are for real, I can say that much. They already had a Mike Leach offense, putting up points quickly with a good quarterback, Luke Falk.
And now, Leach has addressed the defense and the results are beginning to show in the win column. It took him a few years to get his players in there, but with a defense in his arsenal, the Cougs are a dangerous team now. It reminds me an awfully lot of the Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree Texas Tech team Leach had. The most famous game from then was the upset of Texas on a last second touchdown to Crabtree. The play is well known among Red Raiders.
At Washington State, Leach has own cast of characters to lead the way on the field. Luke Falk is highly regarded with NFL scouts and will get selected in the draft. The only problem I have with Falk is that he is coming from an air-raid offense. There are a lot of instances where quarterbacks who just sit in the shotgun don’t translate well in the NFL. However, Jared Goff may have done those type of quarterbacks some favors this season, because he’s been playing extremely well in 2017. Goff came from an offense at Cal where he never took a snap from under center.
Cal sure wishes they had Goff now. They don’t have a quarterback capable of playing at his level. Nevertheless, I won’t put all of the blame on Ross Bowers. Is he good? I can’t say that, I’ve seen him miss throws. But still, there are literally no weapons around him to operate with. Their starting running back is slow, their 5-star wide receiver who is the only guy who can stretch the field has been injured, and nobody else has stepped up at receiver.
As it is, they have a lot of wide receivers who can play role positions well, but not the spotlight. Demetris Robertson, the 5-star I was just talking about, is gone for the year as he just underwent surgery. Can Cal play spoiler here and ruin Washington State’s year? We’ll see Friday night. Head below for our free Washington State vs. California pick.
Washington State Cougars vs. California Golden Bears Betting Odds:
Washington State -14(-110)
vs. California +14(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Washington State vs. California Pick:
The Cougars are led on defense by the talented Hercules Mata’afa. With a name like Hercules, you better be a good player. Mata’afa lives up the billing on the defensive line. What he lacks in size, he makes up for it in pure athleticism and speed. He’s a slippery defender that is difficult to block. If the offensive lineman doesn’t get a quick step, Mata’afa is going to be in the backfield. On the offensive side, Washington State have a bulldozer on their line. Known as The Continent, Cody O’Connell towers over his own teammates on the line at 6’8” 355 pounds. Offensive lineman don’t get much recognition, but he may be the best player on the field in this game.
Washington State like to run behind him, and it’s easy to see why when you watch tape. He clears lanes the size of transport trucks. Add in Luke Falk’s terrific touch and the Cougars’ offense is tough to contain. Falk has passed for 19 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with a completion percentage of 71.8%. NFL scouts love guys who don’t make mistakes, and Falk he good at limiting them. Washington State are 23rd in the nation with 475 yards per game.
Under Mike Leach, we all knew the offense would be good, though. It’s the defense that needed to be addressed. The Cougars are 11th in the country, allowing just 276 yards per game. This isn’t just an offensive team, contrary to popular belief. They are giving up only 146.3 passing yards per game, 6th in the country. I don’t see how the Cal offense is going to penetrate the Washington State defense.
Again, contrary to popular belief, the Cal offense just isn’t good. They no longer run the up-tempo air it out every down offense. Justin Wilcox is not that kind of coach. The Golden Bears are trying to turn into a team known for their defense, and establishing the run leading to the pass. Cal doesn’t have the personnel for that, though. They are better than they’ve been in the past, but need some time to get to the level they want to be at. If Washington State doesn’t take Cal lightly, they should win and cover here with a 17-20-point win.