Cal vs. Washington Pick Against the Spread
California Golden Bears (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Washington Huskies (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date and Time: Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 10:30PM EDT
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
TV: Fox Sports One
Point Spread: CAL +14/WASH -14 (WagerWeb)
Over/Under Total: 43
The California Golden Bears come to Seattle, as they take on the Washington Huskies in a Saturday week two Pac-12 matchup. It is the conference opener for both teams. As double-digit underdogs last season in Berkeley, Cal upset Washington, 12-10, in a big win. Washington will be looking to atone for that in this game. Each team was victorious in week one with FCS opponents in warm-up wins. Cal did away with a plucky UC Davis squad, winning 27-14, while not covering the spread. Washington beat up Eastern Washington, 47-14, and we’ll see what each team can come up with for their conference openers.
New Look Washington Offense
Georgia transfer Jacob Eason is the Washington starting QB after years with Jake Browning in that spot. With the first game coming against an FCS foe, only so much can be gleaned, but he certainly looked the part, throwing for 349 yards on 27-for-36 passing with four touchdowns. Running back duties now fall into the hands of lightning-fast Salvon Ahmed and Richard Newton, both of whom ran for touchdowns on Saturday. Eason has some big-time artillery aerially, especially with standout receiver Aaron Fuller. But the cast is pretty deep and it might surpass the group Cal saw last season when surprisingly holding the offensively-stagnant Huskies to ten points. Chico McClatcher is back and caught a TD pass, with Hunter Bryant and Andre Baccellia each having big games. Again, a win over Eastern Washington only means so much, but Eason could be the answer, along with backs that should succeed, a line that returns a lot of heat with Trey Adams coming back, and a full cast of good receivers. On Saturday, however, preseason All-American center Nick Harris (questionable) went down and his status will need to be looked at throughout the week.
Not the Same Old Cal Defense
Forget any impressions you have of Cal being an offense-first team where defense is an afterthought. Usually, that general description would be correct, but building on last season, the Cal “D” is actually the strength of the team. We saw Washington getting some big plays on Saturday and that’s the hope with Eason. But Cal returns a huge part of their back seven, a group that was excellent in limiting big plays last season. They made game-changing plays, as well, with ball-hawks Jaylinn Hawkins and Ashytn Davis all over the field. Luc Bequette heads a line that looks to see a lot of pieces come together and we’ll see how they look in their first real test of 2019.
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Evaluating the Cal Firepower on Offense
Last season, the Cal offense wasn’t very explosive and they still beat UW, but it might be tougher this time around. The Washington offense should be improved and this one is at Husky Stadium. But after scoring 27 against Davis, it’s clear that the Cal offense might not take off and fly this season. It’s hard to think of Cal as an offense that is limited aerially, which has usually been the strong-suit of the team. QB Chase Garbers is still just a sophomore, but the team is just not as aerially-inclined as it once was. They got a big first game from RB Christopher Brown, Jr., who ran for 197 yards and a touchdown, already surpassing his yardage-total from last season. Kekoa Crawford caught two TD passes from Garbers, but again, it was against Davis. Cal will depend on “D” again this season to spring upsets like the one last season against the Huskies, but how well this side of the ball plays will determine a big part of their fate.
Washington “D” Taking a Step Back?
There is a widely-held perception that the Washington defense is due to regress some in 2019 after a handful of seasons of being very strong in that area. Senior Myles Bryant and juniors Elijah Molden and Keith Taylor should anchor a solid secondary, with Washington being a source of a lot of NFL DBs over the recent years and becoming a destination for big-time talent. Cal might not have one of their biggest aerial showings of the season in this game. The line needs to answer some tough questions, thought they appear to have the necessary bulk. They’re a little dicey at inside linebacker after some key departures and need better performances from the outside. After giving up 12 points last season to Cal, how will this “D” perform in its first real test?
Looking for a Better Cal This Week
Against FCS foe UC Davis, the Golden Bears didn’t look like a very crisp team. The defense didn’t show its teeth, but Davis doesn’t elicit the same passion as conference rival Washington and the first game is sometimes more a spot for shedding rust when playing an FCS foe, rather than a time for real evaluation. Garbers had a few turnovers and errant throws. They looked a little lethargic and lackadaisical, something one shouldn’t bank on this Saturday. But they will need to kick it up a notch, as the form they showed in week one won’t work this week, whereas Washington looked closer to where they want to be.
Take the Points on the Golden Bears
I’m not sure the Golden Bears are coming into Seattle with the same pixie dust they had last season at home with the narrow win. They aren’t facing a Washington team that is underperforming and in a funk. Any steps the Washington defense took backwards won’t necessarily cost them against this offense. But I see the Cal “D” facing a Washington offense that has a new face at quarterback that has maybe given new life to a growing and varied supporting cast. But with the Cal defense and how they did last season, I think the 14-point allowance is pretty gratuitous in this spot. I’ll take Cal.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the California Golden Bears plus 14 points.
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