California Golden Bears (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. Utah Utes (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS)
College Football Week 6
Date/Time: Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 10:00PM EST
Where: Rice Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAL +7/UTAH -7
Over/Under Total: Off
The Cal Golden Bears come to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Utes in a battle of undefeated and ranked Pac-12 teams. There werent many who predicted that would be the intro to this week 6 matchup, but such is the case in what has been a wild college football season. As ranked teams fell to the wayside last week, Utah had the week off and now finds themselves ranked fifth. Cal moved to 5-0 on Saturday, overcoming a gutsy Washington State challenge in a 34-28 win at home.
This is a new position for both teams, coming off recent campaigns where they were Pac-12 afterthoughts. It will be interesting to see how each team responds to being ranked and undefeated, playing in what turns out will be a pretty important game. Especially, Utah, for them to be ranked fifth and in a position to do some really special things speaks to their evolution from conference also-ran to true-blue contender. And now that Cal has emerged from the bottom of the pack, lets see how far theyll be able to take it.
We have a pair of undefeated teams, but were still unclear on where they really stand or if theyll still be in the mix by seasons end. With Utah, their position has some legitimacy to it, following wins over Michigan and Oregon. But we could make a case that a week one 24-17 home win over Michigan, while a nice victory, is not grounds for a parade. And the value of the win over Oregon is perhaps based on the things the Ducks did in recent years and not what they are this season, which is a highly-flawed team. At the same time, they deserve full credit for beating a Michigan team that has since looked good. And the mammoth 62-20 win over Oregon may end up being a transcendent moment for this Utah football program. To go back in time now and split hairs over the exact worth of those wins is missing the point, which is that Utah is a heck of a team. Were talking about their ability to win this game and cover the spread, not whether or not
theyre a legit CFP contender, which is up for debate.
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With Cal, the questions remain, though maybe its best to not ask too many questions when a long-suffering team has some success. But now theyre coming into hostile territory to face a really good team, so its only right to ask the tough questions. Offensively, theyre in good hands with third-year starter Jared Goff, who might have the best arm in a conference dominated by talented quarterbacks. His cast of weapons, with guys like RB Khalfani Muhammad, RB Vic Enwere, WR Kenny Lawler, WR Bryce Treggs, and WR Trevor Davis, among others, has rounded into a good group for Goff to put to use. He has already thrown for 1630 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Now lets look at who that came against. In their first game, they beat Grambling, before smashing a really down San Diego State team at home. They went into Texas and got the win, but relied on a missed Texas extra point and gave up gobs of yardage to a Longhorns team that didnt produce like that before or since. Then they went into Washington and hosted Washington State, winning both games by 6 points. Wins are wins, but when struggling to put away middling teams, it makes 5-0 seem less-menacing than it appears on the surface.
The Golden Bears have given up 96 points in their last three games, a troubling stat as they begin to face the better teams in the conference. But no one ever said Cal was a defensively-inclined team. In the past few years, they were handcuffed by a slapstick defense that couldnt stop a nosebleed. Now, the defense has at least graduated from the ranks of the terrible and has at least been serviceable this season. They will be tested to a greater extent on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Utah is getting good play from 67 quarterback Travis Wilson. Against Oregon, he was dynamic, throwing for 4 touchdowns, while picking up 100 yards rushing. The senior leader of the offense has become a steely vet and is a handful for opposing defenses. Hes giant, but runs with some fluidity and deceiving quickness and isnt as easy to bring down as most quarterbacks. With so much of the offense running through Wilson, he needs to stay healthy for Utah to have a chance in the big scheme of things. Against Oregon, he got a huge assist from his playmakers, with running back Devontae Booker running for 98 yards and throwing a touchdown pass on a quirky play. Receiver Kenneth Scott had another good game, aided by Britain Covey and Caleb Rapp, each of whom had two TD receptions.
We see Utahs offense growing into a unit that can win games. Prior to this season, they were just a scrappy team that relied on defense. But with Wilsons ability being unraveled and a good supporting cast, weve seen the team have an upsurge. Theyre not just a spoiler now, theyre a legitimate contender. They are formidable on the line of scrimmage. Their defense is stout and has a knack for making key plays at the right time. Theyre just a very solid team that built up the right way. They have a strong foundation, experienced key players, and solid coaching with Kyle Whittingham
With Utah favored by 7, one could make a very strong case for why theyll cover the spread. Theyre the more-tested team and the better-rounded one. But with Cals offense being prolific and Utahs still pedestrian at times, despite the 62 points against Oregon, its possible that Utah will need to come from behind to win and that they may have trouble keeping up in a footrace should it turn into one. I see this game going one of three ways, with two of them favoring Cal to cover the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the California Golden Bears plus 7 points.
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