Week 11 Game Matchup: Arizona Wildcats VS. Cal Bears
Arizona Wildcats (6-2) vs. Cal Bears (6-3)
Saturday, November 14, 4:00 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Cal -3.0
Sam’s Take (43 – 16):
Arizona is the only school in the Pac-10 that has never played in a Rose Bowl. With only four games left this season, the ‘Cats control their own destiny in the race to Pasadena. So is Mike Stoops team the real deal? A defining four game stretch will provide the answer (@Cal, Oregon, @ASU, @USC). Cal started the season with the belief that they would be in the hunt for a Pac-10 title in mid-November, but now the 6-3 Bears are just hoping for a solid bowl game.
Statistically, Arizona looks like the best team in the Pac-10. UA heads to Berkeley ranked 13th nationally in total offense and 17th nationally in total defense. Across the board, the Wildcats are a solidly built football team. Offensively they can run and pass, and defensively they can stop the run and the pass.
As I study this game, there is one particular match up that seems grossly in favor of ‘Zona. QB Nick Foles and the ‘Cats high-powered passing attack will be going up against a Cal defense that ranks 117th nationally in pass defense. While Cal CB Syd’Quan Thompson is an excellent defender, the rest of the secondary appears to be ripe for the picking so I expect Sonny Dykes to exploit the Bears defensive backs with quick passes (specifically receiver screens).
We will found out a lot about Cal’s resolve on Saturday. With RB Jahvid Best sidelined, RB Shane Vereen must once again prove why many consider him to be the best backup tailback in the Pac-10. Vereen has game-breaking ability, and if he can get going early that should open up the passing game for QB Kevin Riley. I think it will be critical for Jeff Tedford’s squad to start fast and ignite the home crowd; otherwise a repeat of last week’s game against Oregon State is likely.
While Cal certainly has the talent to win this game, I think Arizona is peaking just in time for a tough four game stretch. The ‘Cats have already proven they can beat a quality opponent on the road (OSU), and I expect another complete performance from Stoops team this week.
Prediction: Arizona 34 – Cal 27
Arizona Player to Keep an Eye On: DE Ricky Elmore - Elmore leads UA with 7.5 sacks, and I expect him to be all over QB Kevin Riley.
Cal Player to Keep an Eye On: RB Covaughn DeBoskie - With Best out, DeBoskie becomes the second tailback in the rotation. The Bears coaching staff has a lot of confidence in the redshirt freshman, and he will provide a nice change of pace when Vereen is on the sideline.
Dave’s Take (46 – 13):
Heading into Cal will be no easy task for the Arizona Wildcats, and the Bears will be especially motivated to go out and play a great game for injured teammate and leader Jahvid Best.
The problem, though, is that motivation hasn’t really seemed to get the Bears anywhere this season.
Coming into the year as the favorite to knock off USC atop the Pac-10, the Bears seemed to have the talent and the drive to make this a special year. When they headed into Eugene, they were a road favorite. And they got completely demolished.
They had a chance for redemption, at home, against the USC Trojans in the very next game. Same result.
Against Oregon State, another quality opponent, they once again were completely blown out. On paper, this team has what it takes to compete with almost any team in the nation. On the field though, they lack… well, for lack of a better word, “it”.
Arizona has put together a pretty special season to this point, and I think they have both the talent and the mental toughness to make sure that this one doesn’t get away from them. It should be a good one, but Arizona prevails in the end.
Prediction: Arizona 38 – Cal 28