California (4-1) at Arizona (4-2)
There is a lot of pressure on the Arizona football program. The Wildcats have not been to a bowl game since the Holiday Bowl in 1998. Mike Stoops had a 17-29 record at the start of the 2008 season. Arizona currently has a 4-2 record, but they should be 6-0.
It is unfortunate that the Wildcats could not beat New Mexico and Stanford. If they would have taken care of business in those two games they would be bowl eligible. Now, Arizona has to play California and USC in consecutive weeks. It is very possibly that Arizona could be sitting at 4-4 after their game against the Trojans on October 25th. It would put the Wildcats in a position where they would have to go 2-2 with games remaining against Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona State.
Arizona has one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Willie Tuitama, who has thrown 13 touchdowns and passed for 1,466 yards. He will be the best quarterback Cal has faced this season. Running back Nic Grigsby has been a threat out of the backfield with 614 yards rushing, nine touchdowns. He returns this week to face the Bears, and he is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. The Wildcats have three receivers in Mike Thomas, Terrell Turner, and Delashuan Dean who are all capable of having a big game this Saturday. Arizona will need their offense to click on all cylinders if they expect to beat the Bears.
The Bears have to get off to a good start against the Wildcats. Starting fast was something that California was not able to do when they went on the road at Maryland. Cal's quarterback situation has been in flux over the last few weeks, but it should not matter if Nate Longshore or Kevin Riley starts at Arizona. The way to beat the Wildcats is on the ground.
Last week, Stanford running back Toby Gerhart rushed 24 times for 116 yards and one touchdown. The Bears should rely on Shane Vereen and Jahvid Best if he is available. If California can win this game, it gives the Bears a chance to continue their run with UCLA and Oregon at home in back-to-back weeks. Heading into their November 8 match-up at USC, Cal could be a top 15 team. The only way they can accomplish that is by winning this week at Arizona.
The Bear defense must find a way to put the clamps on a potent Wildcat offense. A win in Tucson might give Cal the momentum they need to finish this season strong with the opportunity to play in the Rose or Holiday Bowl. A loss could potentially put the Bears in a position where seven or eight wins and fourth or fifth place Pac-10 bowl could be the destination.
Cal Sports Digest says…Cal picks up its first significant road win.
Stanford (4-3) at UCLA (2-4)
The Cardinal are slowly turning around their football program. Stanford might not reach the point where they will be competing for a Pac-10 championship every season, but they should be able to make a bowl game every year.
At 4-3, if Stanford can get by UCLA next week's game against Washington State will provide them with the opportunity to go to their first bowl game since 2001. The Cardinal will count on Gerhart's legs to lead them past the Bruins. Gerhart has ran for 641 yards and 7 touchdowns. UCLA is trying to turn their program around and have been very inconsistent this season.
The Bruins have lost close games to Fresno State and Oregon. UCLA is still searching for playmakers. They might have found one in freshman running back Derrick Coleman. UCLA still needs a deep threat at the receiver position. Terrence Austin is only averaging 10.1 yard per reception. If either one of these teams want to end the season in a bowl game this is a must win game for both programs.
Cal Sports Digest says…Stanford's road woes continue.
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