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Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Open Pac-12 Play at Washington

Cal hopes to knock off Huskies for the third straight time, but Washington favored

Cal and Washington will meet for the 100th time when they open Pac-12 play against each other on Saturday night in Seattle.

The last time the teams met, in 2019, that game in Seattle was interrupted for two hours and 38 minutes because of lightning, and the game did not end until 1:22 a.m. Cal won 12-10.

The teams did not meet as scheduled last year because COVID-19 contact-tracing issues at Cal caused the game to be canceled.

For Saturday's game, Cal head coach Justin Wilcox will be on crutches on the sidelines for the second straight week following minor surgery last week.

---Cal head coach Justin Wilcox talks about Washington quarterback Dylan Morris in the video atop this story---

Here are the important facts for Saturday’s contest:

CAL (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. WASHINGTON (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12)

SITE: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash.

WHEN: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Network: Guy Haberman (Play-By-Play), Shane Vereen (Analyst).

---Click here for an interview with former Cal running back Shane Vereen---

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

BETTING LINE: Washington is favored by 7 ½ points. Over/under is 47 points.

WEATHER FORECAST: Saturday afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high of 75 degrees, but skies will become overcast Saturday night and temperatures will drop to 53 degrees late in the evening. There is only a 10 percent chance of rain Saturday night, and if it does rain it probably won't come until the fourth quarter or after the game is over. Rain is expected Sunday.

CAL-WASHINGTON HISTORY: Washington leads the series 54-41-4, but Cal has won the past two meetings by a combined margin of just three points. Both times Cal was the underdog to a nationally ranked Huskies squad. In 2018, Cal defeated 15th-ranked Washington 12-10 in Berkeley. In 2019 in Seattle, Cal’s Greg Thomas kicked a 17-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining to give the Bears a 20-19 victory over the 14th-ranked Huskies in a game that was interrupted by lightning and did not end until 1:22 a.m.

Evan Weaver tweeted on Friday to remind us of his game-changing pick-six in the 2018 win over Washington

Washington head coach Jimmy Lake recalls the 2019 lightning game:

INJURIES: Cal outside linebacker Kuony Deng will miss his second straight game with an unspecified leg injury sustained in the second game of the season, against TCU. Bears wide receiver Kekoa Crawford, who missed last week’s game against Sacramento State with an unspecified injury, is expected to play against Washington.

CAL STORYLINES: This is the Pac-12 opener for Cal, which is coming off a 42-30 victory over Sacramento State in which the Bears’ offense performed well but their defense did not. That was also the case in the 34-32 loss to TCU the previous week . . . Two significant changes to Cal’s depth chart this week: 1. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter, who started last week in place of injured Kekoa Crawford, is listed as a starter this week even though Crawford is healthy and will play. Hunter is averaging 17.89 yards per catch on nine receptions. 2. Freshman Lu-Magia Hearns III is listed as a co-starter with Chigozie Anusiem at one cornerback spot. Hearns impressed coaches with his play last week and it remains to be seen which player get more playing time Saturday . . . Cal has started fast in every game this season but hasn't be able to sustain it. The Bears have outscored their opponents 34-6 in the first quarter but have been outscored 80-57 after that . . . An inability to convert explosive plays has been a concern for Cal the previous four years, but over the past two games, the Bears have had seven passing plays of at least 30 yards. . . . Cal is first among Pac-12 offenses in yards per play at 7.02, but its defense had given up the most yards per play at 6.03. . . . Cal’s offensive line has been outstanding, yielding four sacks and providing running room for Cal runners. However, the Bears will be challenged by Washington’s big and talented front seven and Washington’s strong defense. . . . The Bears have committed just two turnovers this season and have yet to lose a fumble.

---Click here for a story on a Washington beat writer answering five questions about the Huskies---

WASHINGTON STORYLINES: The Huskies were ranked No. 20 in the preseason AP poll and were picked to finish second in the Pac-12 North. But they were shocked by FCS school Montana 10-7 in their opener and lost their second game to Michigan 31-10. They bounded back with a 52-3 victory over Arkansas State this past Saturday. . . Jimmy Lake is in his second season as Washington’s head coach after leading the Huskies to a 3-1 record and a Pac-12 North title last season. (Washington did not play in the Pac-12 championship game because of COVID-19 issues.) . . . Washington linebacker Jackson Sirmon is the son of Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon, and the Huskies’ Sirmon leads Washington in tackles (8.33 tackles per game) . . . Washington’s defense has been solid this season. It ranks tied for first in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (15.7 points per game), second in total defense and first in defensive pass efficiency. However, the Huskies have had trouble stopping the run. They rank 10th in the conference in rushing yards allowed per game and 11th in yards allowed per rushing attempt (4.58). . . . The Huskies have not been as productive on offense. They rank 10th in the conference in scoring (23.0), seventh in total offense and 10th in yards per offensive play (5.48). The problem is that they have not been able to run the ball effectively, averaging 3.21 yards per carry, which ranks 11th in the Pac-12. . . . Washington has committed seven turnovers, the most in the Pac-12 and the seventh-most in the country.

Washington head coach Jimmy Lake discusses Cal:

---Click here for the surprising data on Cal through three games---

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Chase Garbers (5 TD passes, 2 interceptions in 2021, played well the past two games); OLB Cameron Goode (16 career sacks, 2 sacks in 2021); RB Damien Moore (fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing, 79.0 yards per game, 5.8 yards per carry); WR Trevon Clark (10 catches, 22.7 yards per catch, 2 TDs); WR Nikko Remigio (11 receptions, averaging 12.5 yards on punt returns, returned a kickoff 99 yards for a TD last week); S Daniel Scott (13 solo tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 QB hits this season).

WASHINGTON PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Dylan Morris (leads Pac-12 in passing yards but has thrown more interceptions (5) than TD passes (4)): TE Cade Otton (1st-team all-Pac-12 in 2020, 13 receptions, 1 TD in 2021); WR Taj Davis (17 catches, 13.8 yards per reception, did not play in 2019 or 2020); CB Trent McDuffie (likely first-round NFL draft choice); LB Edefuan Ulofoshio (19 tackles, 2 tackles for loss); OT Jaxson Kirkland (likely first-round NFL draft pick)




JAKE'S PICK: Cal 25, Washington 21

JEFF’S PICK: Washington 28, Cal 24


Cover photo of Washington tight end Cade Otton is by Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports


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

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