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This is Pac-12 Football! Cal at Washington Game Day Open Thread

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A couple of weeks ago, Cal warmed up for the Pac-12 football season with its conference non-conference road win at Colorado. At 1-0, Cal is the undisputed champion of the 2011 Pac-12 conference nonconference season. Everyone else in the conference is winless in such games!

But today it's f'realz, yo. This is Pac-12 football, the kind that counts in the conference standings. And Cal did not draw the most comforting of openers. The Bears face a tough task today, taking on the Washington Huskies at seemingly always loud Husky Stadium in Seattle. This is one of the toughest environments for a road team in the conference. Are the Bears up to it?

Cal is 3-0 with wins over Fresno State, Colorado, and Prebyterian. Washington, meanwhile, enters the game 2-1 and comes off last week's 51-38 loss at Nebraska. The Huskies began the season with home wins over Eastern Washington and Hawaii.

Cal vs. Washington Broadcast Info:

Live Coverage
: Fox Sports Net/Comcast SportsNet Bay Area - Craig Bolerjack (Play-By-Play), Joel Klatt (Analyst), Petros Papadakis (Sideline Analyst)
Cal Commercial Radio: KGO 810 AM (San Francisco) - Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Troy Taylor (Analyst, Pregame Show), Todd McKim (Pregame Show, Sideline), Lee Grosscup (Postgame Show), Kate Scott (Postgame Show)
IMG College/Cal Radio Network Affiliates: *KFPT 790 AM (Fresno), KESP 970 AM (Modesto), KPRZ 1210 AM (San Diego), KMZT 1260 AM (Los Angeles), KTKZ 1380 AM (Sacramento), ^KFIG 1430 AM (Fresno).
All-Access Radio: The Cal commercial radio broadcast feed of the game can be heard on the Internet thorugh the All-Access channel on All-Access can be found under the Multimedia tab at the top of the page.
Cal Student Radio: KALX 90.7 FM (Berkeley) - KALX 90.7 FM (Berkeley) - Danny Freisinger (Play-By-Play), Elliott Schwimmer (Analyst)
Sirius XM Satellite Radio: The Cal commercial radio broadcast feed of the game can be heard on satellite radio on Sirius Premier channel 211 and XM channel 193.

Games Played: 90
Series Record: Washington leads series, 48-38-4
First Meeting: 11/24/1904, at Washington 6, Cal 6
Last Meeting:1/27/10, Washington 16 at Cal 13
Current Streak: Washington win 2

Tedford vs. Washington: 6-3

Of course, we all remember what happened the last time these two teams met. Both teams were playing for bowl eligibility last November in the last game played at California Memorial Stadium as we knew it. Trailing 13-10 to the Bears, Washington QB Jake Locker led the Huskies on a last ditch drive, capped with a 1-yard touchdown run by Chris Polk as time expired. Washington beat Washington State the following week and went to the Holiday Bowl, where it upset Nebraska. Cal, meanwhile, suffered the indignity of a bowl-less 5-7 season, the Bears' first losing season under Coach Jeff Tedford.

But that was last year. This is today. And on paper, at least, today's game promises to be a lot different than last November's offensively-challenged tilt.

Kodiak previewed the Washington defense, which the Bears hope to carve up like UW's first three opponents have.

The stats:

The numbers here are particularly ugly. Study these for too long and it's better than beer goggles for making the other Kardashian sister start to look less... like a life-crushing mistake.
36.6 points per game = Last in the Pac-12, 107th nationally.
320.33 passing yards given up per game = last in the Pac-12, 115th nationally.
452 total yards given up per game = 11th in the Pac-12 (Way to go!), 108th nationally.

But do the numbers tell the whole story?

I suppose you could point to the passing yardage totals as being skewed from playing two pass-happy teams. (Eastern Washington and Hawaii combined for 117 attempts) Let's just ignore the fact that EWU and UH are a combined 1-5 on the year and haven't put up the same numbers since.

But for balance, the Huskies also managed to give up 309 yards on the ground to Nebraska and allowed their side-armed, wounded-duck thrower QB to light them up for another 155 through the air. (often for big plays) To be fair, the 51 points scored by the Cornhuskers can be partially explained by a combination of turnovers, special teams gaffes, and lots of short fields.

So if the Huskies' first three games of the season are an indication, maybe Zach Maynard & Co. will be able to matriculate the ball down the field against the (not so) Husky defense. If the Bears can put up 30 points, that would be a good thing: during the Tedford era, Cal is 58-5 in games in which the Bears have scored 30 points or more.

But could this be the type of game to make Cal 58-6 in such games? ManBearCal looked at the Washington offense, with which Clancy Pendergast and his Cal defense will have their hands full today. Though Huskies' QB Keith Price is hobbled by nagging knee sprains, Cal cannot relax. Price has some formidable weapons at his disposal at the WR position:


Jermaine Kearse, Senior - 6'2, 205 lbs

James Johnson, Junior - 6'1, 200 lbs

Devin Aguilar, Senior - 6'0, 188 lbs

Very solid group here. None of the starting three guys really have numbers that jump off the screen (Kearse 8-107-4 TDs, Johnson 12-155-3 TDs, and Aguilar 11-181-1 TD), but I actually find it more disconcerting that their stats are so balanced. Kearse has routinely killed us (ask Darian Hagan), but Johnson and Aguilar demand attention as well. If these three weren't enough of a handful, super-frosh WR Kasen Williams is waiting in the wings, along with speedy WR/KR Kevin Smith. This is a long and athletic group that can make defenses pay, and have done so regularly in the first three weeks. There is a light case of the dropsies making the rounds among some of these guys, but not sure if that's a systemic issue or not (grasping at straws here...).

Upside: Depth, experience, size

Downside: I don't know yet.

What to expect:

A big challenge for our secondary. Stevie Williams should be okay, but Marc Anthony and Nickel back Josh Hill, along with both Cattouse and Campbell, will also be tasked with keeping this group in front of them. I'm worried about this WR group. Paul Richardson was able to take full advantage of missed reads and assignments in our secondary to the tune of a career day (CU PARALLEL #3). That was one guy; this is three (at least). I don't know that any of the Husky WRs are as fast as Richardson, but they're thicker and stronger. We'll need solid tackling from our DBs to avoid any possible SQT/Meachem-esque hootenanny. Again, I believe this to be easily the best WR group Cal has seen thus far this season. Will we have an effective plan to minimize the impact these guys have on the game? Has Clancy hammered our guys enough about the embarrassment in Boulder that they're determined not to let it happen again? I sure hope so. Buffalo brainfarts can't happen in Seattle. I'm predicting that our secondary has a much better day in Seattle... and doesn't let any Washington receivers set any school records.

This will be a tough test for the Bears. On paper, it looks like a shootout in the making. Can the Cal offense keep up? On the road, in a place where the Bears haven't won since Joe Ayoob carried Cal to victory in 2005?

We shall see. And for what some former Huskies (including Jake Locker) and former Bears (including Lavelle Hawkins, Craig Stevens, and Brandon Mebane) think about today's game, check out this video. HT to Avinash for sending me the link.

Former Bears, Huskies Face Off (via pac12conf)