California Golden Bears (5-5 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Stanford Cardinal (7-3 SU, 4-5-1 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAL +16/STAN -16
Over/Under Total: 55.5
The California Golden Bears take on the Stanford Cardinal in the Big Game on Saturday. These Bay Area-based teams have made for some wild games over the years. After winning 7 of 8 matchups from 2002 to 2009, the Cal Bears have not been in the winning circle in the last seven games between the two. But both teams enter this game in winning form. Cal was able to get to 5-5 in their last game two weeks ago in a 37-23 win over Oregon State. Having lost five of six going into that game, it was a needed dash of positivity. Stanford is coming off a big Friday win over the Washington Huskies, their 6th win in 7 games. They are now one of three 2-loss teams in the North division of the Pac-12.
Stanford got off to a 1-2 start this season, losing to USC and San Diego State in consecutive games, before getting their act together. Their only setback over the past two months was a 3-point road loss to Washington State. The win on Friday over Washington opened up the North division, as it is now a three-team race heading into the stretch of the regular season. Stanford has been getting a lot better play on the defensive side of the ball, while getting better offensive play, including the big-time running of back Bryce Love. Head coach David Shaw now has his Cardinal crew in full-flight heading into this game.
Underdogs to an 8-1 Washington team, the Cardinal became the only team to really have any real offensive success against a top-ranked Huskies defense on Friday. Running for 166 yards and three scores was another impressive showing by Bryce Love, but against Washingtons D, it means a lot more. Only injuries have slowed him, with some monster games this season. He looks to make mincemeat of the Cal defense this week. Theyve been starting KJ Costello at quarterback, with the tall youngster having some good moments. Also adding a playmaking element aerially in recent weeks in WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who has also bounced back from injuries this season to put up some big games.
The Stanford defense has also tightened up to some degree over the course of the season. They were able to prevent Washington from getting much traction offensively. A close game was broken open in the second half, with the Huskies kept off the board the entire second half until scoring a TD when matters were more or less sewn-up. What they lack in stoutness at times, they make up for it with consistent playmaking. They get after quarterbacks with timely sacks, with a playmaking secondary that is adept at getting their hands on the ball. Harrison Phillips has been tremendous this season ands is one of the top defensive tackles in the game, with Peter Kalambayi and DE Dylan Jackson also racking up a lot of sacks. Justin Reid has five interceptions on the season. They can make plays and tighten up at the right time.
The Cal Bears started the season well and people started to pay attention to them, just as they hit a wall as they got into conference-play. In their last game, they were able to beat the worst conference team in Oregon State. There was also the utterly-bizarre 37-3 win over Washington State in mid-October. But other than a few close ones, theyve been largely subpar in the Pac-12. Some key injuries havent helped, but theyre not a team to neglect, either. After a break, they are rested and have shown they can at least be remotely dangerous in the right spots.
First-year head coach Justin Wilcox is trying to form a winning formula at Cal as they move from the all-offense/no-defense equation they have been working with the last several seasons. It wont happen overnight, as the offense is still the best part of the team, though certainly not as good as when Davis Webb and Jared Goff were running this offense. QB Ross Bowers is up to 2615 yards with 17 touchdowns, along with 11 picks. Patrick Laird has been their go-to guy on the ground, while also catching 36 balls. The aerial-attack lost some key pieces to injury, but Vic Wharton, III., Kanawai Noa, and Jordan Veasy have been useful weapons through the air. A line that has been bested on occasion should have their hands full this week.
While the Cal D is hardly what one would call a good defense, its a big improvement over what weve seen over the last several seasons. The pass-defense is still an outstanding concern and losing their top playmaker on this side of the ball with LB Devante Downs, was a bad setback. Theyve still been able to do some things on this side of the ball, with more emphasis placed on playmaking. Up-front, James Looney can get after it, with Raymond Davison making plays at linebacker, along with running-mates Cameron Goode and Jordan Kunaszyk. And while they havent been terrible against the opposing run this season, this game should put them to the test. In last seasons matchup, a 45-31 win for Stanford, the Cardinal put up 357 yards on the ground.
Its nice that Cal is a bit rested after a demanding stretch of conference games and getting a win in their last game is something that could resonate. It gets a lot harder this week against a Stanford team that is playing as well as any team in the division and has a lot riding on their last two games. But this is their last regular season conference test and I expect to see a fired-up Cardinal bunch. I picture solid showings on both sides of the ball, with a big dose of Bryce Love helping Stanford pull away with the clear win and the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Stanford Cardinal minus 16 points. Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 50% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.