Utah vs. Cal, 10/1/16 - Prediction

Game Snapshot

#184 University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears
vs.
#183 University of Utah Utes

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Image licensed from USA Today Sports
Utah Utes (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS, 2-2 O/U) at California Golden Bears (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS, 4-0 O/U)

When and Where: Saturday, Oct. 1, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif., 6pmEST

Last year: (10/10/15) UTAH (-7.5) over Cal, 30-24

Line: California -1

Total: 67

This Pac-12 matchup features two teams with contrasting styles. Cal offers one of the nation’s top offenses, but they struggle against the run. Utah has found a way to get to 4-0, but they are facing their toughest road test of the season when the meet the Golden Bears on Saturday.

Utes find a way against Trojans

Utah was down, 27-24 at home against USC, but they had the ball late in the game with a chance to send it to overtime or win. Quarterback Troy Williams went for the win, hitting big receiver Tim Patrick for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in the game. Patrick is a 6-5, 210-pound wide out, who has 20 catches for 385 yards (19.3ypc) with five TDs on the season. The bigger story was the ability of Williams to make the plays when necessary. Williams threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns but it was converting  two fourth-and-1’s on the last drive that allowed the Utes to win the game.

Utah struggled defensively in that game against the Trojans’ athletes and that’s a concern. They allowed 466 yards of total offense including 213 on the ground. That’s despite the fact USC had the ball for just 22:21 and lost three fumbles. On the season, Utah has allowed just 15.8 points per game (17th) and just 182.2 passing yards per game (29th). They have pretty good balance on offense, averaging 427.8 yards per game overall (65th).

Turnovers become costly against Arizona State

California produced 637 total yards against Arizona State on Saturday night, but two interceptions and a fumble hampered them in their 51-41 road loss in their first conference game. Cal had a 24-10 halftime lead and were up by 21-3 at one point, but that dissipated in the second half as the Golden Bears allowed 41 second-half points. Senior Davis Webb completed 32 of 56 passes for 478 yards and five touchdowns, but also committed all three turnovers. He also had a key pick-six late in the game. With ASU leading, 37-34 late in the game and Cal going for at least a chance to tie, Laiu Moeakiola picked off a Webb pass and returned it 27 yards for the touchdown. Amazingly, Webb led the team back  He leads the nation’s third-ranked offense (594.5 yards per game) and second-ranked passing offense (459.2ypg). Cal receiver Chad Hansen led the Bears with 10 catches for 110 yards and a TD. Hansen leads the nation with 50 catches for 656 yards and  six TDs.

But Cal is 2-2 because they struggle on defense to put it mildly even though turnovers and an onside kick return for a touchdown was a major difference in their loss to ASU. They allow 263.2 yards per game on the ground (123rd), 42.5 points per game (123rd) and 491.8  total yards per game (117th).

College Football Trends:

Utah is:

  • 10-3 ATS last 13 road games.

 

Cal is:

  • 1-6 ATS last 7 conference games.
  • 1-4 ATS last 5 game in October.

California is a very dangerous team to play on the road. But Utah actually defends the pass well. They can also run the ball, led by Zack Moss, who has 243 yards on the ground. Cal’s lack of defense will cost them again. While Hansen is having a great year, Cal has to account for Patrick’s size in the red zone.

Pick: Utah +1

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Benjamin Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!