boomtho: I'm very surprised that Cal opened -1, but I've also had a shit start to the season betting, so that probably means it's a good line. Utah is going to run early and often, so we'll have to have a performance like the first half of ASU, not the second half. Their corners will be physical, so our WR's are going to have to win a lot of 1:1 matchups, which I believe they can do.
Avinash: Pretty confident. If Cal even comes close to hitting their usual offensive output (and more importantly takes the same jump at the snap as they did against Arizona State), they should be able to squeak out a victory. Since Utah demolished Oregon a year ago in one of the strangest football games you'll ever watch, they have not surpassed 35 points. If Cal can get to 35+, that should be enough at home in front of our crowd.
Now, Utah's defense is no joke, and it will be the first big test as to whether the Bear Raid is capable of besting an elite front seven. Additionally, it's Kyle Whittingham, who I never doubt. But the Utes are genetically programmed to never blow anyone out, so this will be a winnable game in the 4th. Will we seize it?
Nick Kranz: It's ultra simplistic to say that all Cal needs to do is to stop the run, but Utah is a team with an iffy, inexperienced quarterback and they want to run to set up the pass. And as they amply showed against USC, they are completely willing to hand the ball off over and over, many times in a row, until you prove you can stop them.
It hasn't been an explosive running game (yet) but they have generally been able to keep the chains moving when they need to. And Utah's passing game is very much based on throwing when the run is a legit threat. If Cal can force 3rd and long conversions they should get their fair share of stops.
Meanwhile, Utah is probably the best defense Cal has faced this year, but we know this offense will put up points. It's Cal under Sonny Dykes, which means that the opponent almost doesn't matter: If the defense can get a few stops and the offense and special teams can avoid bad errors, then Cal will probably win. Rinse, wipe, repeat.
Leland Wong: So I'm a worrier, which means I'm worried about the Utah game! The Utes lost starting RB Joe Williams to retirement, but they've got three running backs with at least thirty carries apiece averaging over five yards per carry. Cal's run defense certainly showed marked improvement early in the ASU game, but until I see more progress, I'm going to keep snacking on my fingernails.
The Utes are still less than impressive at quarterback, but Troy Williams was clutch enough to deliver two touchdowns at the end of the USC game to get the win, which means I'm clutching my pearls since it looks like they've upgraded over Travis Wilson. One potential reason for hope is that their double-team-demanding potential first-round pick DT Lowell Lotulelei is questionable for the game after a shoulder injury, but offense is less of a concern for the Bears—we should be able to put up points, but it remains to be seen if the defense can win the game with some stops.