The longest continually active Cal Bear blog

Archive for October, 2021

OSU preview

Well, last week was nice wasn’t it? And I won’t even point out that I just about got the Cal score right. 🙂

A month ago when people looked at the schedule, OSU was the middle game of a 3 game more winnable stretch. And while Colorado was and Arizona appears to be as weak as expected, OSU has exceeded expectations with wins over USC (on the road at well), Washington and Utah. They’re only conference blemish is a 24-31 loss to WSU.

Now a common opponent analysis suggests OSU to be a better team. They beat UW when Cal lost and put up a much better score against WSU even though both teams lost. (And it’s worth noting that OSU played WSU on the road whereas Cal had the “Wougs” at home.)

As such there’s no doubt that this will not be an easy game for the Bears. I think we have to consider OSU the favorite. But what I see is a Bears team that is continuing to improve and lost a lot of close games that could have gone the other way… and they’re playing a good but average talent team that has won a number of one-score victories against teams the Bears could have beaten.

Additionally, OSU is all about their run game and that plays into the strength of the Cal defense. Their QB is young and if Cal can force OSU to pass, the ball hawking ability of the Bears (which is improving and slowly getting back to form) could shake his confidence.

So I see this game coming down to the trenches. Can the Bears slow the OSU run game? Can the Cal offensive line hold up and open up the down-field passing game? (Notable add-on issue: Will Cal’s improved tackling show up again this week?)

And when games come down to the trenches, except in the extremes, it comes down to heart. Does OSU come out strong with determination to continue their impressive season? Or do they come to Berkeley a little bit over-confident after a good stretch? Do the Bears continue to build on last week’s momentum? Or do they lose the hunger that finally got them back in the win column now that they’ve won one?

These are the questions that will determine the winner.

And I refuse to make the trip to Berkeley as a pessimist. Bears win 27-24.

Colorado preview

The fundamental question one has to ask themselves when considering the strength of Colorado is: “How bad is Arizona?” This is particularly so because the Bears and Buffs have no common opponents… which is kinda rare for conference foes this late in the season. But the one conference team Colorado beat (Arizona) has two common opponents with Cal.

So we’re going to completely abuse the transitive property today…

  • Arizona lost 41-19 @ Oregon. Cal lost a nailbiter in Autzen.
  • Arizona hosted UW and lost 21-16 in a game where UW started really flat, but once they got up to speed rolled over Arizona. Cal lost in overtime on the road.

So there’s no doubt that Cal is a lot better than Arizona when doing a common opponent analysis… but then when you look at the Colorado vs. Arizona game and see 34-0 it makes you think that Colorado is probably better than the both of them, right? And that’s bolstered by the fact that all of their losses are to pretty good teams. Texas A&M, a strong Minnesota, ASU (the class act of the conference this year), and even USC ain’t bad.

Well, not so fast.

The level of blowout of those losses should be quite concerning for those trying to sing Colorado’s praises. They didn’t just lose, they were blown out by all of them but A&M. So my gut is that Arizona is *REALLY* bad and we shouldn’t put too much stock in that blowout win over Arizona.

My thinking is that today we have two very similar teams… they have just enough talent to be dangerous, but enough holes and problems to be on the weak end of things. So in the end it’s going to come down to who wants it more. And frankly, that scare the crud out of me. I’ve seen too many games where I’m not feeling a lot of passion out of the Bears.

But I refuse to make the trip to Berkeley so pessimistically so I’m going believe that the Bears bring a strong effort today and their slight talent edge combined with home field advantage is enough to finally get Cal back in the win column.

Bears win 27-13

Will the real Bears stand up?

I left the WSU game utterly despondent. That WSU team was sub-mediocre and the Bears looked downright pathetic. What has happened to Garbers? (His accuracy and decision making were horrible.) Why can’t this defense tackle? (a big on-going problem.) Why is it the offense always seems good the first few drives but stinks after that?

But then Cal put up a pretty good fight against a pretty good Oregon team. Sure it was still a loss, but at least it was a step in the right direction, right? So I turned off the TV last Saturday with some optimism.

But now I’m thinking maybe the real Bears are a team with more potential than they show, but they “play to their opponent”. What’s worse, is they play just below their opponent.

So who is the real team?

WSU preview

Ever since the departure Mike Leach, WSU has been headed the wrong direction. There’s no doubt that Leach gave the Wougs some recruiting credibility as well as his offensive style fit them well.

It’s not that much of a surprise then that new coach Nick Rolovich is struggling. There are already serious calls for him to be fired (see: WSU is 1-3 this year, like the Bears, but their losses were far less encouraging. Both conference losses (USC and Utah) were against teams that themselves are struggling and themselves have troublesome losses. And they haven’t been losing by single scores margins.

So there’s no getting around that this is a must-win game for the Bears if they hope to have any shot at respectability much less bowl eligibility.

I see this game coming down to whether the Cal secondary can keep the game from being a “shoot out”. I put that in quotes because I don’t mean to imply that there’s any prospect of a classic Cal-WSU 60-59 style shootout. But a game where neither team can much slow the other and an over/under of 80 perhaps being appropriate is in play.

My instinct says Cal comes out strong, WSU is already feeling the mid-season grind of a failing team and Cal wins moderately easily. The Cal secondary will have it’s struggles, but the improvements we saw in the 2nd half of the UW game will intermittently work to keep WSU in check.

Final score: Bears win 34-20.