Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Host No. 23 Oregon

Ducks coming off their first loss, but they have beaten Cal in 10 of their last 11 meetings, including the last three in a row.
Author:
Publish date:

Cal is playing its second home game of the season Saturday against Oregon. It is also Cal’s last scheduled home game of the season, although the Bears might host a game on Dec. 19, with matchups and sites yet to be determined for those contests.

Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon talks about Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough and the Ducks running backs in the video above, and he discusses the Ducks offensive line and offensive style in the video below.

Here are the important facts for Saturday’s contest:

CAL (0-3) vs. NO. 23 OREGON (3-1)

SITE: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.

WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m.

TV: ESPN – Dave Flemming (Play-By-Play), Rod Gilmore (Analyst), Taylor McGregor (Sideline)

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

BETTING LINE: Oregon is favored by 9 points (as of Friday); Over/Under – 58 1/2

WEATHER FORECAST: Saturday afternoon will bring partly cloudy skies to Berkeley, with showers likely in the evening. The afternoon high will reach 62 degrees and a low of 47 degrees Saturday night.

CAL-OREGON HISTORY: Cal leads the all-time series with Oregon 41-39-2, but the Ducks have won the last three games against the Bears and have won 10 of the past 11 meetings. Oregon won last year’s game in Eugene, Ore., 17-7 when Cal quarterback Chase Garbers was sidelined with an injury.

CAL STORYLINES: Cal, which was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 North, was favored in all three games this season, but lost all three, including last week’s 24-23 loss to Stanford when Cal had the tying extra point blocked . . . The last time Cal started 0-3 (or 0-4) was 2001, when the Bears lost their first 10 games and finished 1-10. . . Cal is expected to be close to full strength for the first time this season. Four starters -- offensive linemen Jake Curhan and Will Craig, tight end Collin Moore and outside linebacker Braxten Croteau – are back after missing the past two games because of virus-contact-tracing issues. Offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso also might return. . . . Running back Christopher Brown Jr., who missed the Oregon State game and played sparingly against Stanford because of unspecified injury issues, might be back in the starting lineup, although that is not certain . . . The return of the offensive line and Brown's presence should help Cal’s run game against an Oregon defense that ranks 10th in the Pac-12 against the run, allowing 5.44 per rushing attempt . . . The Bears have shown flashes on offense, but still rank last in the Pac-12 in total offense and 11th in scoring offense (20.0 points per game). . . Cal averages just 4.1 yards per rushing attempts, which ranks 10th in the conference, but the Bears had 241 rushing yards last week against Stanford, the most by a Cal team since midway through the 2018 season . . . The Bears rank fifth in the conference in total defense and second in pass defense, but lack of depth on the defensive line is a concern, especially now that defensive end Ethan Saunders is out for the season with an injury.

OREGON STORYLINES: The Ducks are coming off a 41-38 loss to Oregon State that presumably ended Oregon’s chances of landing a berth in the four-team College Football Playoff . . . Oregon would still earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game if it beats Cal on Saturday and Washington on Dec. 12 . . . Oregon is one of two Pac-12 teams that has not had a game canceled this season (Oregon State is the other), and it is one of three teams that has played four games (UCLA is the third). . . Oregon was ranked No. 9 in the preseason AP poll, but is currently No. 21 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the CFP rankings . . . After ranking second in the Pac-12 in total defense last year, the Ducks are just ninth in defense this season . . . Oregon ranks first in the Pac-12 in both total offense and points per game (38.5). The Ducks average 5.6 yards per rushing attempt (third-best in the Pac-12), with Travis Dye and CJ Verdell sharing the ball-carrying chores . . . Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough leads the Pac-12 in passer rating by a sizable margin. . . . The Ducks have three productive receivers – Jaylon Redd, Devon Williams and Johnny Johnson III – and a fourth, Mycah Pittman, is expected to play Saturday after missing the past two games.

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: WR Kekoa Crawford (17 receptions, 12.4 yards per catch, 2 TDs); QB Chase Garbers (2 TD passes, 0 interceptions, 51 rushing yards last week vs. Stanford); RB Damien Moore (121 rushing yards last week vs. Stanford); OLB Cameron Goode (4.5 tackles for loss); ILB Kuony Deng (14 tackles vs. Stanford).

OREGON PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Tyler Shough (170.3 passer rating, tops in Pac-12, rushed for 203 yards in 2020, threw 2 interceptions last week vs. Oregon State) RB CJ Verdell (rushed for over 1,000 yards each of the past two years, expected to play Saturday following second-half absence last week); RB Travis Dye (8.0 yards per carry in 2020); LB Noah Sewell (5.0 tackles for loss); DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (preseason All-American, 4.0 tackles for loss).

CAL STATISTICS: Click here 

CAL NOTES, DEPTH CHART: Click Here

OREGON NOTES, STATISTICS, DEPTH CHART: Click here

JAKE'S PICK: Cal 27, Oregon 24

JEFF’s PICK: Oregon 38, Cal 28

RYAN THORBURN’S PICK (Eugene Register-Guard reporter): Oregon 34, Cal 24

OREGON BEAT WRITER ANSWERS 5 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DUCKS: Click Here

.

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

Find Cal Sports Report on Facebook by searching: @si.calsportsreport

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Cal Sports Report on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.