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Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Travel to Washington State

Points scored and points allowed are exactly the same for Cal and WSU heading into Saturday’s game
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What does an even matchup look like?

Cal is averaging 30.0 points per game; Washington State is averaging 30.0 points per game.

Cal is allowing 20.5 points per game; Washington State is allowing 20.5 points per game.

That’s a freaky similarity heading into Cal’s Saturday Pac-12 game at Washington State, which is Homecoming for the Cougars.

Here are the facts about Saturday's game:

CAL (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) vs. WASHINGTON STATE (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12)

SITE: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Wash.

WHEN: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. (kickoff 2:40 p.m.)

TV: Pac-12 Network – Roxy Bernstein (Play-ByPlay), Lincoln Kennedy (Analyst)

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

BETTING LINE: Washington State is favored by 4 points. Over/under is 53 points. (Justin Wilcox is 15-4 against the spread as a road underdog during his time as Cal’s head coach.)

WEATHER FORECAST: Saturday afternoon will be mostly sunny in Pullman with a high of about 72 degrees with 70% humidity and just a 2% chance of rain. Temperatures will go down to about 49 degrees Saturday night, but this is a lot different from playing a night game in Pullman in late November when snow and freezing temperatures are possible.

CAL-WASHINGTON STATE HISTORY: Cal leads the alltime series 48-29-5 and has won 12 of the past 16 meetings. However, Cal has lost the last two times the teams met in Pullman, and the Cougars won last year’s matchup in Berkeley 21-6 when Jayden de Laura was the Cougars’ quarterback.

CAL STORYLINES: Cal is looking to improve to 2-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2015, which was two years before Justin Wilcox became the Bears’ head coach . . . Cal is 1-8 in its last nine road games since the start of the 2020 season . . . The Bears are coming off a 49-31 win over Arizona, representing their highest scoring total in four years. Cal had 354 rushing yards, which were its most since 2008. . . . Cal freshman running back Jaydn Ott leads the Pac-12 in rushing with 463 yards, and his 274 rushing yards against Arizona were the most ever by a Pac-12 true freshman and the most by any player in the country this season. His 8.3 yards per carry is the best in the nation for players with at least 50 carries . . . Cal is expected to have different starters from its season opener at nine positions and possibly 10 as the Bears continue to shake up their depth chart. . . . Cal quarterback Jack Plummer was sacked six times two weeks ago in the loss to Notre Dame, but he was not sacked at all against Arizona. He has thrown eight touchdown passes and two interceptions, and ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in passer rating.

---Cal has overhauled its starting lineup since the opener---

WASHINGTON STATE STORYLINES: Washington State is coming off a 44-41 loss to Oregon, a game WSU led by 12 points with less than seven minutes remaining . . . The Cougars beat then-No. 19 Wisconsin 17-14 on the road on Sept. 10 . . . Jake Dickert is 6-4 as Washington State’s head coach since taking over from Nick Rolovich midway through the 2021 season because Rolovich refused to get vaccinated and was dismissed. . . . WSU is seeking a bowl bid for the second straight year and for the eighth time in 10 seasons. . . Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward is a transfer from Incarnate Word, an FCS school, after throwing 47 touchdown passes last year. Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon lauds Ward for his quick release and ability to ad-lib (see video atop this story), and Dickert says, “He has some magic moving around in the pocket.” (See video highlights of Ward above.) . . . Washington State leads in the nation in tackles for loss with 38 and is tied for fifth nationally in sacks with 14.

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---Washington State beat writer answers five questions about WSU---

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Jack Plummer (8 TD passes, 2 interceptions); RB Jaydn Ott (Pac-12 offensive player of the week, 8.3 yards per carry, 2 TD catches); WR Jeremiah Hunter (21 catches, 14.5 yards per catch, 2 TDs); S Craig Woodson (2 tackles for loss, 1 interception); WR J.Michael Sturdivant (17 receptions, 225 yards, 2 TDs); ILB Jackson Sirmon (team-leading 36 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble).

---Washington State will focus on stopping Jaydn Ott. What does Cal do?---

WASHINGTON STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Cameron Ward (10 TD passes, 5 interceptions); RB Nakia Watson (260 rushing yards, 12 receptions, 141 receiving yards); WR Donovan Ollie (24 catches, 263 yards, 2 TDs); WR De’Zhaun Stribling (19 catches, 4 TDs); LB Daiyan Henley (team-leading 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception); Edge Brennan Jackson (6.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hurries)




JAKE's PICK: Washington State 28, Cal 27

JEFF'S PICK: Cal 30, Washington State 24

COLTON CLARK’S PICK (Spokane Spokesman Review): Washington State 28, Cal 23

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Cover photo of Cameron Ward is by Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports


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