The Oregon Ducks will be trying to bounce back from a disastrous collapse against Stanford when they visit the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Oregon was undefeated prior to its recent meltdown. The Golden Bears are coming off consecutive victories over North Carolina, BYU, and Idaho State.
Defeat from the jaws of victory
The Ducks had every reason to reach 4-0 last weekend, but instead they suffered an inexplicable 38-31 overtime loss to visiting Stanford. Oregon led 31-28 with 51 seconds left and needed just one first down with Stanford owning a timeout. On 2nd and 3 at the Stanford 43, Ducks freshman C.J. Verdell ran for 3 yards and then fumbled on Stanford’s 40-yard line. The Cardinal needed five plays to get into field goal range and promptly kicked a game-tying kick to force extra time.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal explained. “In our eyes, when our offensive line is playing like it did against them, and knocking people off the ball, you trust your guys to get it done…. A lot of things can go a lot of different ways, and it’s easy to second-guess after…. We felt pretty good about the run game. We needed one more to get a first down and win the game. And we’d been pretty good with that.”
It never should have even come down to Verdell’s fumble at the end of a close game. After all, the Ducks had every opportunity to blow out Stanford long before things got interesting. They led 24-7 midway through the third quarter and were going in for what should have been a 31-7 advantage. Instead, 31-7 became 24-14 when Oregon fumbled at the goal-line and the Cardinal returned it all the way for a touchdown.
Not so Goode fortune
California linebacker Cameron Goode is out for the season with a lower-body injury. Goode, a third-year sophomore, returned an interception for a touchdown in the season-opening defeat of North Carolina. He missed the next two contests but had been hoping to return at some point. Goode also got injured last year after starting the Golden Bears’ first nine games, also returning an INT for a TD against Ole Miss to go along with 46 tackles (5.5 for loss) and a forced fumble.
“It’s an unfortunate part of this game,” head coach Justin Wilcox lamented. “I really feel for him because he puts a lot into this game…. He’ll go through that process of not being able to play this year. After that, it’s a pretty short window, then you start working toward what’s next.”
Fortunately for California, it has plenty of depth on the defensive side of the ball and has now surrendered more than 23 points to any of three opponents so far in 2018. North Carolina went for just 17 points and BYU managed only 18 in week two. Junior safety Jaylinn Hawkins is the Pac-12 leader in interceptions with three (two at the expense of the Tar Heels and one during the win over the Cougars).
The California Golden Bears are:
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last six overall
- 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven home games
- 5-1 ATS in their last six games against the Pac-12
The Oregon Ducks are:
- 8-22-1 ATS in their last 31 overall
- 0-4 ATS in their last four road games
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning records
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
It is always hard to pinpoint with precision how a particular team will bounce back from something great or something terrible happening to it the previous week. At the same time, though, it is hard to see Oregon recovering from the Stanford debacle in the span of seven days. That loss, albeit to a solid opponent, was as bad as it gets. Quarterback Justin Herbert is electric, but he has already thrown five interceptions this season and he is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on 27 keepers.
Prediction: California Golden Bears
Full-Game Total Pick
Uncharacteristic of an Oregon squad, the Ducks are averaging a modest 4.4 yards per rush so far in 2018. That will have to increase as Herbert’s interceptions decrease if Oregon wants to get back on track. The under is 18-7-1 in the Ducks’ last 26 on the road and 6-0 in their last six on the road against opponents with winning home records. It is also 4-1 in the Golden Bears’ last five overall, 7-3 in their last 10 against winning opponents, and 7-2 in their last nine following an off week. Look for this one to stay under the total.
Full-Game Prop Bet
This is a big total for an Oregon team that just melted down against Stanford when its offense could have and should have put the game away. The Ducks’ running game does not look as potent as it normally is, so California should be able to keep it in check.
Prediction: Oregon under 30.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
California is plus-46 in the first half through three games. By comparison, the Golden Bears are minus-14 in the second half. They should be able to continue that trend and jump all over an Oregon team that is still licking some wounds.
Prediction: California Golden Bears +1
Half-Time Total Bet
Oregon’s defense gave up only seven points in the first half against Stanford before things started to fall apart. And don’t be fooled by the Cardinal’s 38 points, as one touchdown came from the defense and another took place in overtime.
Prediction: Under 29