No. 6 Oregon Ducks (6-1 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. California Golden Bears (4-3 SU, 5-2 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date and Time: Friday October 24th, 2014. 10:00PM EST
Where: Levis Stadium Santa Clara, C.A.
TV: FOX Sports 1
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ORE -17/CAL +17
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The 6th ranked Oregon Ducks have climbed back into the thick of college footballs 4 team playoff race despite suffering a loss to Arizona on Thursday night back on October 2nd. The Ducks have rattled off two straight convincing wins over UCLA and Washington to regain full control of the Pac-12 North. However the Ducks will have to try and survive yet another early week game when they go on the road to meet the California Golden Bears this Friday inside Levis Stadium.
The Golden Bears have already proven this year that they have improved greatly from last years disastrous 1-11 campaign. Cal is off to a decent 4-3 start with wins over Washington State and Colorado. The Golden Bears also took both Arizona and most recently UCLA down to the wire in their losses. Last week, UCLA had to rally to beat the Golden Bears in Santa Clara by kicking a late 4th quarter field goal. Still at 5-2 ATS, the Golden Bears are one of the surprises in the Pac-12 this season as they continue their progress back towards national relevance. This week Cal looks to put together another worthy performance as 17 point underdogs to the visiting Ducks.
Perhaps the Golden Bears have the offensive firepower to keep pace with Oregon to some degree. Of course they will still need a strong defensive effort, but the offense has averaged 41.6 points per game this season as the 10th best scoring unit in college football. Cals offense is focused around quarterback Jared Goff who has led the offense to a lucrative average of 372 yards per game through the air which is the 3rd best mark in the FBS. Goff has hit 65% of his passes for 2,482 yards with 24 touchdowns and just 4 picks through the first half of the season. Goff is actually on track to shatter some of Cals single season passing records and he should present a good challenge for Oregons defense this Friday night.
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However it is the Oregon offense that will concern California the most this Friday when they enter Levis stadium. The Ducks offense appears to be as strong as over with quarterback Marcus Mariota under center. Mariota has taken over as the leader on most midseason Heisman Trophy ballets which may have been helped by Todd Gurleys indefinite suspension at Georgia. Still, Mariota has been flawless throwing the football. The junior quarterback is hitting 70% of his passes and has thrown 19 touchdowns without a single interception. Mariota has also added 289 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground as the Ducks 2nd leading rusher on the team.
With Mariota under center, tailback Royce Freeman averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and an extremely talented receiving corps, the Ducks again have one of the best offenses in the country. Oregon has scored at least 38 points in every game this year excluding the loss to Arizona and their 43.6 point average is the 6th best scoring mark in the FBS. This high power offense makes Oregon extremely difficult to beat but they are not invincible just as Arizona proved earlier this month. In that game, Oregons defense was shredded on the ground and the Ducks gave up a couple of costly fumbles which allowed Arizona to stay on the field to control the time of possession battle. In order for Cal to contend this Friday, they will need to keep their defense off the field, find ways to score points, and possibly come up with a few big turnovers to keep Oregons offense on the sidelines. One thing that is certain is the fact Oregons offense cannot beat anyone when they are not on the field.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The difference in this game will be Cals defense which is simply not good enough to keep the Oregon offense at bay. The Golden Bears defense have given up 38 points per game this season as one of the worse scoring defenses in the country. They have given up a minimum of 31 points in their 5 conference games this season and a lucrative 46 points on average in those contest. Take Oregon -17!