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Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Host Washington State on Saturday

Cal is favored in this home contest, which is the Bears' Homecoming game

Cal and Washington State will meet in Berkeley on Saturday afternoon with both teams seeking their first win over an FBS opponent this season. This is Cal’s Homecoming game and Parents Weekend.

Cal and WSU were scheduled to meet last season, but the game was canceled less than two hours before kickoff because of COVID-19 contact-tracing issues at Cal.

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox is expected to be on crutches on the sidelines again Saturday.

In the video atop this story, Wilcox discusses Washington State’s two possible starting quarterbacks – Jayden de Laura and Jarrett Guarantano – although it now appears that de Laura is healthy enough to start Saturday’s game.

Cal has a bye next week.

Here are the important facts for Saturday’s contest:

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

SITE: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.

WHEN: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

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

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

BETTING LINE: Cal is favored by 7½ points. Over/under is 52 points.

WEATHER FORECAST: Saturday afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high of about 80 degrees. There is only a 5 percent chance of rain in the afternoon. The temperature will go down to about 56 degrees Saturday night.

CAL-WASHINGTON STATE HISTORY: The Golden Bears lead the overall series 48-28-5. Cal is 12-3 against the Cougars since 2005, and the Bears have won the past three games against WSU in Berkeley -- 33-20 in 2019, 37-3 in 2017 when WSU was 6-0 and ranked No. 8, and 34-28 in 2015. Last year’s Cal game at Washington State was canceled 90 minutes before kickoff because of COVID-19 contract-tracing issues in the Cal program. The Cal team was already in Pullman, Wash., ready to go when the game as called off, as Chase Garbers recalls in the video below.

INJURIES: Cal: Bears outside linebacker Kuony Deng will miss his third straight game with an unspecified leg injury sustained in the second game of the season. Cal running back DeCarlos Brooks, who is averaging 10.8 yards per carry, is doubtful for Saturday and might miss his second straight game. Bears wide receiver Nikko Remigio, running back Damien Moore and tight end Jake Tonges all probably will play Saturday after suffering injuries last week. Starting nose guard Stanley McKenzie is questionable.

Washington State: WSU coach Nick Rolovich said Wednesday there is "a good chance" Cougars starting quarterback Jayden de Laura and starting running back Max Borghi will both be ready to play Saturday after being considered questionable early in the week. Borghi missed most of last week’s game against Utah with an injury, and da Laura sat out that game after getting hurt the previous week.

CAL STORYLINES: Cal is favored in this game, and the Bears must win to retain hope of landing a bowl berth. A loss to WSU might send the Cal season into a steep decline . . . The Bears are coming off a tough, overtime loss to Washington. Their three losses have been by five points (Nevada), two points (TCU) and in overtime (Washington) . . . Starting running back Damien Moore likely will be ready to play after taking a hard hit on the final play of the Washington game, when he fumbled at the 1-yard line. He is listed as the starter on the Cal depth chart . . . Cal quarterback Chase Garbers is having the best season of his Cal career, and he has been running the ball more often and more effectively in recent games as well. He was Cal’s leading rusher last week against Washington, and this week he has a chance to set the Cal record for career rushing yardage by a quarterback. . . . Cal ranks second in the Pac-12 in total offense, but it is 11th in total defense and 10th in scoring defense, yielding 29.3 points per game. The Bears have forced opponents into just four turnovers, and their pass defense has not been effective. They rank 10th in the conference in pass-efficiency defense, and that does not take into account the many pass interference penalties called against the Bears. Cal’s defense was effective in the second half against Washington, yielding just three points over the third and fourth quarters.

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WASHINGTON STATE STORYLINES: The Cougars’ only win came against Portland State, an FCS program . . . WSU wide receiver Brandon Gray did not make the trip to Utah last Saturday and was wounded in a shooting in Pullman, Wash., the previous night. WSU coach Nick Rolovich said this week that Gray is in stable condition . . .. . . WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura, who missed last week’s game with an injury, is likely to start Saturday’s game. He is a more dynamic and versatile player than Jarrett Guarantano, who was the Cougars’ quarterback in last week’s 24-13 loss to Utah. . . . There is also a good chance that running back Max Borghi will play after getting hurt against Utah . . . .Perhaps because da Laura has played little this season, the Cougars rank 10th in the Pac-12 in both scoring offense and total offense. Their defense has been ineffective, and they rank 11th in the conference in scoring defense (a fraction of a point behind Cal) and 10th in total defense (just ahead of Cal) . . . . WSU’s defense has recorded just four sacks, while WSU quarterbacks have been sacked 15 times, the most of any Pac-12 team . . . . The Cougars operate out of a run-and-shoot offense put in by second-year head coach Nick Rolovich. Rolovich has been the center of controversy because he has not yet confirmed that he has been vaccinated. Washington governor Jay Inslee has mandated all state employees be vaccinated by October 18 to remain employed. There are some exemptions, and Rolovich has said he will satisfy the mandate but has not said how or when. . . . The Washington State flag has made 262 consecutive appearances on ESPN's College GameDay, a streak that began in 2003.

---Washington State beat writer answers five questions about the Cougars team and head coach Nick Rolovich's vaccination situation---

WSU coach Nick Rolovich’s Monday press conference:

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Chase Garbers (Pac-12 leader in total offense); OLB Cameron Goode (3 sacks this year, 10 sacks over last 12 games); RB Damien Moore (fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing, 76.0 yards per game); WR Kekoa Crawford (8 receptions, 107 receiving yards last week); WR Nikko Remigio (15 receptions, 11.5 yards per punt return, returned kickoff 99 yards for a TD vs. Sac State); S Daniel Scott (19 solo tackles, third-best in Pac-12, and 2 interceptions).

WASHINGTON STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Jayden de Laura (likely to play; 6 TD passes, 2 interceptions, threat to run); RB Max Borghi (likely to play; preseason first-team all-Pac-12, 6.0 yards per carry, good receiver); WR/KR/PR Travell Harris (4 TD catches in 2021, 15.17 yards per punt return); WR Calvin Jackson Jr. (fourth in Pac-12 in receiving yards per game at 70.25); LB Jahad Woods (32 tackles, 3 tackles for loss in 2021; Pac-12’s active leader in career tackles with 351); DE Ron Stone Jr. (4.5 tackles for loss).

CAL STATISTICS: Click here

CAL NOTES, DEPTH CHART: Click Here

WASHINGTON NOTES, STATISTICS, DEPTH CHART: Click here

JAKE'S PICK: Cal 35, Washington State 27

JEFF’S PICK: Cal 31, Washington State 20

TICKETS: Click Here

PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION: Click Here

FAN PROTOCOLS: Fans attending games at Memorial Stadium are strongly encouraged to wear facial coverings in outdoor areas. Facial coverings are required at all times in indoor spaces (i.e., restrooms, club levels) for guests ages 2 and up regardless of vaccination status, unless actively eating or drinking. Masks will be available at all club entrances and at each gate for fans upon request. The Berkeley Public Health order also requires proof of full vaccination for everyone age 12 and up who attends games in the Field Club, Stadium Club or University Club. 

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Cover photo of Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura is by James Snook, USA TODAY Sports

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

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