UTAH RUNNING GAME VS CALIFORNIA RUSH DEENSE - Expect an even heavier dose of senior running back Brandon Warfield than usual. With a new signal caller it is a sure bet that Warren will be tired after this game is over.
California was butchered against Kansas State's rushing attack (330 yards), but that is not really a surprise. Will they be able to stop Utah's running game? Doubtful. The Bears are not that deep on defense and they are inexperienced in the secondary so big plays are definitely a possibility. Look for Warfield to go over 150 yards for the third straight game.
UTAH PASSING GAME VS CALIFORNIA PASS DEFENSE - No doubt junior wide receiver Paris Warren will be the feature of the passing game the rest of the year. He brings another dimension to the offense. Execution inside the red zone will be key for the Utes passing game.
The Bears have been beaten for a lot of big plays in the passing game thus far, including giving up an 85 yard touchdown to Colorado State. The Bears defense likes to blitz sophomore safety Donnie McCleskey, and he is one of the best in the Pac 10. Freshman cornerback Tim Mixon is the cornerback to watch. He's young, but very talented. Look for the Bears to blitz, blitz, and blitz some more against an inexperienced quarterback. Also look for the Utes to use more motion, draws and screens to offset the blitz packages by the Bears.
CALIFORNIA RUNNING GAME VS UTES RUN DEFENSE - California's rushing game is simply anemic, and don't look for them to get started against Utah. They are not physical up front, and Utah should be able to get adequate penetration for their share of negative yardage plays. California's top tailback is senior Adimchinobe Echemandu. He is a load at 225 pounds on a 5-11 body. With defensive tackle Sione Pouha receiving a lot of attention the player the Bears will have to watch is Utes sophomore nose guard Steve Fifita. If he gets loose it will be a long day for the Bears. Look for junior linebacker Corey Dodds to be in the fray all night long.
CALIFORNIA PASSING GAME VS UTES PASS DEFENSE - California junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur is a special player. He is currently leading Division I in receiving yardage. McArthur will demand extra attention from the Utes secondary and linebacker core. Junior signal caller Reggie Robertson is a skilled passer that can make plays. Look for him to go over 225 yards in the air.
SPECIAL TEAMS - California senior kicker Tyler Fredrickson has yet to be really tested this season. He was two for three against Southern Miss, but his long was only from 26 yards. Likewise, California junior punter Lucas Everett really has not been tested. Will the Utes come after him? In the Bears first two games Everett did not have a single punt be downed inside the 20 yard line.
Warren is one to watch in the return game. In his only return against Utah State he went for 27 yards. Junior punter Matt Kovacevich had a really good game against Texas A&M with a 46 yard average, long of 55, and placed three inside the 20. Freshman kicker Bryan Borreson is definitely the man the Bears will come after. He missed a 39 yard field goal in the third quarter against the Aggies, and a less than stellar snap/hold on his first extra point proved to be costly for the Utes.
INTANGIBLES - Playing on ESPN in front of the home crowd should rev-up the Utes. Other than that both teams need a win after loosing close games last week so look for the intensity level for both teams to be high.
PREDICTION: Utes 35 Bears 24