The Early Glimpse: Cougs vs. Bears

THE BAD NEWS is, Washington State lost 55-17. The good news? Outside of Oregon, the Cougars are unlikely to see another team like Stanford this season. And they certainly won't see it this coming week against Cal.

It's easy to overreact to a game like Stanford. The Cardinal took apart WSU in every way possible. They showed what happens when a defense can't get to the quarterback, as Kevin Hogan had an incredible amount of time to spot open receivers, step into a long throw and connect. They showed that physical football still matters. They exposed a WSU offense that probably isn't as far along as we thought it would be 17 games into the Mike Leach regime.

It's just as easy to overreact to a game like Idaho. Look at that defense. See how the offense is grasping the concepts and moving the ball. Look at the grit and determination.

Truth is, Washington State (3-2, 1-1) isn't yet ready for the Stanfords, and are too advanced for the Idahos. There aren't many, if any, of those teams remaining on Washington State's schedule.

Outside of Oregon, now comes a steady diet of teams more in WSU's wheelhouse, starting this Saturday at California (1-3, 0-1). The Bears are building, just like the Cougars. They're both trying to put a beating behind them; California lost 55-16 at Oregon in a game that could have been 155-16.

Just remember: The Cougars are 3-2, not 0-5. A win during the next two games puts this season back on track again.

Cougs vs Bears


The kickoff: 1 p.m., Memorial Stadium.

TV: Fox Sports 1

The line: Cougs by 1 1/2

The series: California leads 44-25-5


For all the news, information, opinion and recruiting insight available on Cougfan.com and its Scout.com network, click here to subscribe and start your 7-day free trial!
About California: Bears coach Sonny Dykes is fond of saying Cal has played the country's toughest schedule to date. Having played top 25's Northwestern, Oregon and Ohio State among the first four games, that may be true.

But all it means is the Bears know what a good team looks like. And what a good team can do to California. The Bears went 0-3 against Northwestern, Oregon and Ohio State, and outside of Northwestern, never threatened to win those games.

Perhaps more telling is California's lone win, an all-out 37-30 win over Portland State. The Bears trailed 30-27 during the fourth quarter, and needed a 10-point rally during the final seven minutes to win. Cal's defense yielded 558 yards to the Vikings, who are no better than a mid-pack Big Sky team.

Still, California has Pac-12 talent on its roster, and the Bears play this game at home. It would be a good win for the Cougars should they succeed.

Washington State's defense will think it's at practice Saturday in going against California, as Dykes' offense uses many of the same tools employed by the Cougars. It makes sense, as Dykes learned under Leach, as a Texas Tech assistant for five years.

Freshman quarterback Jared Goff looked like a first-year quarterback against Oregon, when he was yanked early in the game after a nothing performance. Goff has had a decent season to date, completing 60 percent of his passes (106 of 174) for 1,317 yards and seven touchdowns.

Like WSU, the Bears have liberal statistics among their receivers, as six players have at least eight receptions this season. The leaders are Bryce Treggs (30 receptions, 348 yards), Chris Harper (24 for 339) and Richard Rodgers (11 for 181). The running game is led by Brendan Bigelow, with 62 carries for 236 yards.

Defensively, the Cougars should move the ball against Cal, regardless of who plays quarterback.

The Bears are giving up an average of 45.3 points a game this season, which ranks 121st out of 123 FBS teams.

Opposing teams have been successful with both offensive tactics: Cal is giving up an average of 262 yards on the ground, and 250 hashes through the air. Linebacker Khairi Fortt is the team's top tackler. The Bears have only four sacks.

Last time: C.J. Anderson ran for two touchdowns to lead Cal to a 31-17 win over Washington State last year in Pullman. Jeff Tuel passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars. California has won eight consecutive games against WSU, most of the losses blowouts. The last time the Cougars beat the Bears was WSU's last Rose Bowl season, a 48-38 win in 2002.

Familiar faces: California has two players with Washington state ties, defensive lineman Deandre Coleman of Seattle and defensive back Cedric Dozier of Lakes High. Outside of Dykes' tie to Leach, the Bears have no coaches with Cougar bloodlines.

Notable Note: Dykes kicked junior defensive end Chris McCain off the team Sunday, citing conduct detrimental to the team. McCain was supposed to be one of Cal's best defenders but played in three games, starting two, with 11 tackles with no sacks. Junior Kyle Kragen, who started against Portland State and Ohio State, is expected to start in McCain's place.

Read Nick Daschel's occasional Pac-12 ramblings at twitter.com/nickdaschel

Cougfan Top Stories