Anybody ever have Deja Vu?Â This week feels to me a great deal like the ASU week.Â “Oh watch out for that dangerous opponent.Â They’re soooo tough.”Â Are you kidding me!?!
I think this week it makes the most sense to do the preview based on the list of reasons that WaZoo might challenge Cal:
- WSU has a shout defense, better than anything Cal has seen.
- Cal hasn’t won in Pullman, WA since 1979.
- The only teams WSU has lost toÂ are Auburn and USC.
One at a time, shall we?
#1. WSU has a stout defense… yeah, and my brother and I can fit in two seats in Memorial stadium.
The big number everyone brings up in defense of this argument is the 18.2 points per game they’re holding their opponents to.Â But those same teams are only scoring 20.5 points in the rest of their games.Â The best example of this is Auburn.Â WSU gave up 40 points to Auburn while Auburn has scored an aveage of 22.6 points in the remainder of their games.Â Cal’s offense is so superior to Idaho, Baylor, Stanford and Oregon St. (the teams that are responsible for WSU’s 18.2 number) that itÂ isn’t even funny.Â Particularly whenÂ one considers that Cal’s points allowed is only 21.0 when their opponents are scoring an average of 30.0 points per game, somehow I don’t seen any defensive advantageÂ for WaZoo.
#2 Cal hasn’t won in PullmanÂ since 1979…Â well good for Tom Holmoe, Steve Mariucci, Keith Gilbertson, Â Bruce Snyder, Joe Kapp and Roger Theder.
Tedford has never played in Pullman.Â He’s 1-1 against WSU, the first game (the loss) being his very first Pac-10 game in his first year and the more recent win being at the height of the Joe Ayoob debacle.Â To tie this Cal team to the Bears of the past is an injustice to this team.Â There were so many badÂ teams in those years.Â While I’ll admit that it is a little baffling that Cal went 0-3 in the Snyder and Mariucci years, that’s so long ago that it isn’t even worth considering.
#3 The only teams WSU has lost to is Auburn and USC… and Cal’s only loss is to Tennessee.
This argument is the height of stretching for so many reasons.Â Cal and Auburn are ranked about the same.Â I don’t know about you but a 40-14 victory would be fairly satisfying.Â USC, while ranked in the top 5, also has had a fairly weak schedule to date with meat of their schedule not coming to November.Â Their ranking is based entirely on past history.Â Or said another way the argument is “WSU is good enough to beat everyone but the really good teams.”Â Who after seeing Cal play the last few weeks doesn’t think they’re a really good team?
Now that we’ve debunked the reasons why WSU might win, onto the reasons Cal is going to destroy WaZoo.
The most obvious is the direct comparison of the OSU game.Â WSU beat OSU 13-6.Â Cal beat OSU 41-13.Â Said another way, OSU held WSU to 13 points while the Bears put up 41.Â On the defensive side of the ball, WSU held OSU to 6 points while Cal gave up 13.Â While that suggests a slight advantage to the WSU defense, it’s important to note that the 7 extra points that OSU scored against the Bears were scored in the 4th quarter when theÂ game was long since over and many 2nd string Bears players were getting playing time.
The next comparision is what I’m going to call the plus-one comparision.Â I realized how valuable this comparision is after the Cal vs. Oregon game.Â Cal is basically the same team they were last year plus Longshore.Â Longshore has taken this team to theÂ next level.Â Â The question is, howÂ has the opponent changed since last year.Â With Oregon, they’re basically the same team as last year so when you have the same matchup with the plus-one, theÂ BearÂ roll in Berkeley.Â OK, so how about WSU.Â If anything they’ve taken a step back from last yearÂ having lost their marque running back and now having their best WRÂ hampered by an injury.Â So, BearsÂ are vastly improved, WSU takes a step back, and Cal won last year… hmmm.Â
Then there are just the raw numbers: Cal is putting up 39.5 points per game, WaZoo only 26.3.Â Cal is gaining 455 yards a game, WSU only 427.Â And while all of that is happening WSU seems to be a bit moreÂ fumble happy, putting the ball on the ground 2.7 times per game.Â We saw last week how a turnover susceptible team isÂ in trouble against the Bears.
On the other side of the ball,Â while I’ll give WSU some credit for being a fairly good defense, I don’t seeÂ anything remarkable that the Bears don’t have.Â Of particular note is the run defense,Â that just like the points scored is not as impressive as it seems.Â While WSU is holding their opponents toÂ justÂ under 100 yards per game, their opponents are only rushing for 105 yards per game.Â The Bears, on the otherÂ hand, while giving up 128 yards per game are doing it against teams that have been putting up 160 yards per game.
So, vastly superior offense meets up against possibly equally matched defenses… who do you think is going to win?
For me Cal 45, WSU 17.