California Golden Bears (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (3-1 SU, 2-1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date/Time: Saturday, September 30, 2017, 10:30PM
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
TV: Fox Sports 1
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAL +14/ORE -14
Over/Under Total: 68.5
The California Golden Bears come to Eugene for a Pac-12 meeting against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. Cal lost their first game of the season last Saturday to Southern Cal, 30-20, but acquitted themselves well and took a 13-13 tie into the 4th quarter. They look to get back on the winning track this week against Oregon. The Ducks came back from a big deficit at Arizona State on Saturday, before a late FG spoiled the comeback bid and gave them their first loss of the season, 37-35. They look to make amends and even their conference record at 1-1 this week at home. Some might remember these teams battle-royal of last season, when Cal scored a double-overtime 52-49 win in a wild affair in Berkeley.
Cal was thought to be more in a rebuilding-mode than what has really been the case. With first-year head coach Justin Wilcox, they have been fairly respectable, especially as they transform from an offense-only approach, as they flexed the last several seasons with gunslingers Jared Goff and then Davis Webb. They started the season with quality wins over North Carolina and Ole Miss, before taking a top-five ranked team in USC and having it tied in the final quarter. They collapsed some on defense and made a lot of bad mistakes on offense that lead to losing touch with the game, with a late Cal TD making it look a little better than it really was. Fourth-quarter collapse aside, Cal has been a pleasant surprise in 2017.
Cal quarterback Ross Bowers threw for over 300 yards on Saturday, but was off the mark on 22-for-50 passing with a ghastly four picks and two lost fumbles. It makes one wonder what would be the case without all those miscues. Losing by ten to one of the best in the country even with a ton of turnovers is impressive in its own way. The loss of RB Tre Watson has hurt, but Patrick Laird has been huge this season, along with Vic Enwere, who had a touchdown on Saturday. Vic Wharton, III. is still a go-to piece aerially and had 86 yards against USC. WR Kanawai Noa has been picking up steam and had 110 yards on Saturday, while Jordan Veasy hauled in a TD grab. The line at no point really seemed overmatched and is a lot better than some of those Cal lines we used to see that werent all that close to Pac-12 standards.
The Cal defense has been yielding some positive results of late. Again, its all relative and recent Cal defenses have conditioned us to expect very little. Giving up 16 to an Ole Miss offense that had been in good form and holding the Trojans to 13 points in the first three quarters shows this unit might be headed in the right direction. And with an offense that isnt as explosive as in recent seasons, a little more fire on this side of the ball can go a long way. Senior Linebacker Devante Downs was a handful on Saturday and typically is very productive. He is aided in the middle by Alex Funches and Raymond Davidson, III. Jaylinn Hawkins and Quentin Tartabull provide good safety play, while CB Josh Drayden picked off Sam Darnold on Saturday. Theyre fairly healthy and definitely a rising unit.
Oregon flopped on Saturday as 14.5-point favorites against Arizona State. Oregon had looked pretty good to start the season, putting up a combined 162 points in three games with nice wins over Nebraska and Wyoming. They fell behind 31-14 to ASU on Saturday, before the Justin Herbert-led Ducks offense stormed back, only to see it spoiled at the end with a late Sun Devils field goal and then failing to respond with a drive.
Oregons Herbert got off to a slow start on Saturday, before getting the offense on the move in a big way. He is bolstered by a good running back in Royce Freeman, who has 541 yards on the ground and already ten touchdowns. Kani Benoit offers relief and has 6 touchdowns of his own, while Herbert has run in two. The major contributors in the passing-game have been Charles Nelson (iffy for Saturday), Dillon Mitchell, Johnny Johnson, III., and Jacob Breeland. IF only they were able to put together a solid four quarters on Saturday.
The Oregon defense still has a ways to go, but there have been some mild signs of life under new coordinator Jim Leavitt, who previously worked with head coach Willie Taggart at South Florida when he was their head coach for 13 seasons. Theyre not always that stout, but not at the nearly-comedic levels they were last season. They had allowed a lot of drives by Arizona State on Saturday, but only allowed two field goals over the final 25 minutes of play. Granted, they werent all that clutch late, but still put the offense in a position to make the comeback. While they arent likely to get run over by Cals offense like last season, this is still a group that Cal should be able to exploit to some extent.
This seems like a well-matched game again this season. A case can be made for either team and Oregon should have an edge being at home. One should expect at least a slightly-subdued version of last seasons game, but still a well-contested game with a lot of fireworks. I see Cal being moderately-competitive enough to cover the spread on Saturday. Im going with the Cal Bears.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the California Golden Bears plus 14 points. Where are you betting this game? Does your bookie give you the the option to bet on games at -105 odds? NO! He’s charging you -110 (or more!) Sports betting is a game of edges. Don’t let the house get the edge on you! Start betting at discounted odds TODAY at 5Dimes Sportsbook!