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Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Host Colorado

Showers possible for Saturday afternoon's game, which Cal is expected to win

Cal hosts Colorado on Saturday afternoon, and it will be a cloudy day with a chance of showers. Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox discusses the impact poor conditions might have in the video atop this story.

The Bears will face a Colorado team that has Montana and Rice leading its passing game.

Pardon me?

No, it’s not the 49ers’ Hall of Fame combination of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. It’s Buffaloes wide receiver Brenden Rice, Jerry’s son, and wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig.

Here are the important facts for Saturday’s contest:

CAL (1-5, 0-3 Pac-12) vs. COLORADO (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12)

SITE: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.

WHEN: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

TV:  Pac-12 Network – Roxy Bernstein (Play-By-Play) and Lincoln Kennedy (Analyst)

RADIO: KGO 810 AM -- Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (sideline reporter).

BETTING LINE: Cal is favored by 9 points. Over/under is 43 1/2 points.

WEATHER FORECAST: It might be wet. Showers are likely Saturday afternoon, when temperatures reach about 61 degrees under cloudy skies. The heavy rain is not expected until Saturday night, when the temperature will drop slightly to about 56 degrees.

CAL-COLORADO HISTORY: Cal leads the series 6-4, but the teams have not met since 2018. The Golden Bears won the most recent matchup, 33-21, on Nov. 24, 2018, in Berkeley. Cal is 4-0 against Colorado in Berkeley, with the other home wins coming in 1968 (10-0), 2010 (52-7) and 2014 (59-56, 2 OT).

INJURIES: Cal: Outside linebacker Kuony Deng will miss his fifth straight game, and it is unclear whether he will play again this season. Running back DeCarlos Brooks has missed the past two games, and it will be a game-day decision whether he plays against Colorado. Freshman cornerback Lu-Magia Hearns III, who has become a starter, will be back after missing last week’s game with an unspecified injury. Safety Craig Woodson and nose guard Stanley McKenzie are out for the season.

Colorado: Nigel Bethel Jr., the Buffaloes’ third cornerback who was seeing significant playing time, is out with a knee injury. Starting offensive tackle Max Wray has missed the past three games after being in concussion protocol, but he might play Saturday. Backup running back Ashaad Clayton is questionable with an undisclosed injury. Wide receiver La’Vontae Shenault has been suspended since the second game of the season, and it’s unclear if and when he will return.

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CAL STORYLINES: The Golden Bears are still looking for their first win over an FBS team, and Saturday’s game may be their best chance to get one . . . Cal is coming off another disheartening defeat, losing last Friday night to then-No. 9 Oregon on the road after the Bears got to the Ducks’ 2-yard line in the closing seconds. Cal’s five losses have come by margins of five, two, seven (in overtime), 15 and seven points. . . Cal and Arizona are the only Pac-12 teams without a conference win . . . The Bears need to win six of their final seven games to become bowl-eligible, and they are in danger of finishing with a losing record for the second straight season . . . Quarterback Chase Garbers leads the Pac-12 in total offense, and on Saturday he likely to become Cal’s record-holder in career rushing yards by a quarterback. He has 929 rushing yards, two sky of Joe Kapp’s record of 931 . . . Cal has produced more big plays than it had in the previous three season, but the Bears are still just 10th in the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 23.0 points. . . . Wide receivers Trevon Clark and Jeremiah Hunter have become the Bears’ big-play receivers. . . . Cal ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in yards per rushing attempt (4.9) . . . Damien Moore remains Cal’s starting running back, but Christopher Brooks, who was a starter each of the past two seasons, was the most productive runners last week (68 yards rushing) and has been particularly effective in recent games . . . Cal’s defense has had trouble against the pass, ranking 10th in the Pac-12 in pass defense. Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown had his best game of the season last week against Cal, going 20-for-28 for 244 yards and touchdown. . . . Cal did not have any special teams blunders last week, which was something new for this season.

Cal coach Justin Wilcox discusses whether rainy conditions mean offenses will depend more on the run or on the pass:

COLORADO STORYLINES: The Buffaloes got their first win over a FBS team last week when they routed winless Arizona 34-0 . . . This will be Colorado’s second road game of the season, and it lost the previous one 35-13 to Arizona State . . . Colorado’s problem has been on offense. The Buffaloes average just 17.4 points per game, and only Arizona is worse than that in the Pac-12. The Buffaloes are last in the conference by a wide margin in total offense, averaging just 260.5 yards per game, which ranks 127th of 130 FBS schools. . . . Opposing defenses had been crowding the line of scrimmage to stop Colorado running back Jarek Broussard because the Buffaloes had not shown much of a passing game. But against Arizona, Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis had his best game of the season, going 12-for-19 for 248 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions . . . Colorado’s top receiver is Brenden Rice, son for NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, and he had 111 receiving yards last week against Arizona . . . Broussard was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year in 2020, when he finished third in the country in rushing at 149.2 yards per game while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. However, he is averaging just 51.5 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry this season . . . Colorado’s defense has been good this season. The Buffaloes rank second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, yielding just 19.8 points per game, but they have allowed 30 points or more three times. Linebackers Nate Landman and Carson Wells are standouts, and the return of defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson, who sat out the first four games after declaring for the NFL draft, has been a significant factor in the past two contests.

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Chase Garbers (Pac-12 leader in total offense); DE Luc Bequette (2.5 sacks this season); RB Christopher Brooks (impressive the past two games); WR Jeremiah Hunter (17.6 yards per reception, a knack for the big play); S Daniel Scott (27 solo tackles, 3 interceptions); OLB Marqez Bimage (making an impact in the absence of Kuony Deng).

COLORADO PLAYERS TO WATCH: LB Nate Landman (10.2 tackles per game, third in the Pac-12); LB Carson Wells (8.0 tackles for loss this season); DE Mustafa Johnson (second-team all-Pac-12 in 2020, played just two games this year); RB Jarek Broussard (2020 Pac-12 offensive player of the year); WR Brenden Rice (Jerry Rice’s son, Buffs’ leading receiver, 111 receiving yards last week); QB Brendon Lewis (ranks 11th among Pac-12 starting quarterbacks in passer rating, but he is coming off his best performance)




JAKE'S PICK: Cal 30, Colorado 14

JEFF’S PICK: Cal 28, Colorado 17


Cover photo of Colorado coach Karl Dorrell is by Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports


Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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