2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Fresno State at Cal
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Sept. 3 at California 36 … Fresno State 21
CFN Analysis: Former Buffalo quarterback Zach Maynard might have thrown for 266 yards and two scores, and he ran for 53 yards, but he only completed 16-of-35 passes. Even so, he had no problems finding Marvin Jones and Keenan Allen, who combined for 13 catches for 230 yards with Jones scoring twice. The Bears won without a problem with the big play on offense and the bigger play on defense, with the line getting into the backfield on a regular basis and never letting the Fresno State offense breathe. The Bulldogs moved the ball a little bit, but every time they needed to some up with a key third down conversion, Cal came through with the stop. If the Bears can keep the mistakes to a minimum, they should have smooth sailing through road trips to Colorado and Washington, along with a home date against Presbyterian, before the showdown at Oregon. The passing game has to start clicking better before going to Autzen.
Fresno State has to get more out of its offensive line to have any chance at a decent season. The defensive front did a nice job of pressuring the Cal backfield, and it held up well against the run, but QB Derek Carr got hit way too often and the Bulldog running game was nowhere to be found for long stretches. There were chances to get in the game and make it a battle, Carr couldn't convert on third downs because he didn't have any time. With Nebraska up next, the defensive front will have to be even more aggressive and will have to take even more chances. It struggled to keep mobile Cal QB Zach Maynard under wraps, and now it gets to deal with Taylor Martinez.
(AP) SAN FRANCISCO -- Zach Maynard overcame a rough start to his California career to throw for 266 yards and two touchdowns to Marvin Jones to lead the Golden Bears to a 36-21 victory over Fresno State on Saturday.
Isi Sofele ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns, Jones had 118 yards receiving and defensive end Trevor Guyton scored on a 22-yard fumble return to give the Bears an emphatic start to the season a year after posting a losing record.
The Cal defense harassed Derek Carr in his first start at quarterback for the Bulldogs as the Golden Bears won for the first time in three meetings between the schools.
The game was at a neutral site, Candlestick Park, with Fresno State bringing a larger contingent of fans in the crowd of 31,563.
The Cal fans had much more to cheer about -- especially after Maynard recovered from the early interception that helped give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo, struggled with his accuracy, completing just 16 for 35, but had a knack for the big play as he capitalized against a Fresno State defense missing injured safety Phillip Thomas.
Keenan Allen, Maynard's half-brother, added eight catches for 112 yards. Allen and Jones became the first Cal duo to top 100 yards in the same game since DeSean Jackson and Lavelle Hawkins did it against Minnesota in 2006.
Maynard's mobility helped him win the job, and he showed it off with a couple of long runs, including a 48-yarder on Cal's opening drive of the second half that set up his second TD throw. The 23-yarder to Jones made it 26-14, and the Bears put the game away with their defense.
Steve Williams intercepted Carr on the next drive to stop a scoring chance, and Cecil Whiteside knocked the ball out of Carr's hands on a sack on the next drive. Guyton scooped up the loose ball and went in for the score.
Carr is the younger brother of former Fresno State star and 2002 No. 1 overall draft pick David Carr. His debut was highly anticipated among Fresno State followers, but the Bulldogs' entire offense struggled behind four new starters on the offensive line.
Carr finished 21 for 33 for 142 yards and was sacked four times. The Bulldogs didn't top 200 total yards until a meaningless drive late in the fourth quarter.
The day couldn't have started off much worse for Maynard and the Bears. After an illegal formation penalty negated the first offensive play for Cal, Maynard threw his first pass right to Fresno State cornerback L.J. Jones, giving the Bulldogs the ball at the 16. Three plays later, Robbie Rouse ran in from 9 yards for the opening score.
Cal answered with a 67-yard drive that included two big third-down conversions by Maynard, who hit Keenan Allen for 23 yards on third-and-3 and Marvin Jones for 11 on third-and-10. That helped set up Sofele's first TD fun from 1-yard out. Giorgio Tavecchio's point-after attempt was blocked.
Sofele scored on a 39-yard run and Jones caught a 42-yard TD pass to make it 19-7 after the first quarter.
Despite outgaining Fresno State 310-122 in the first half, the Bears only led 19-14 at the break after a botched snap by Dominic Galas led to a fumble in the end zone by Sofele that Christin Wilson recovered for a touchdown.
State (0-0) at California (0-0) Sept. 3,
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Here's The Deal … Though separated by just a three-hour road trip, Fresno State and Cal have squared off just twice before, both Bulldogs victories. Still, meeting No. 3 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco won't have a completely unfamiliar feel to it, especially since Bears head coach Jeff Tedford was a former quarterback and assistant in the Valley. Tedford will face his alma mater with plenty at stake, needing to begin turning the corner from last year's 5-7 flop. A perennial trendy pick as a Pac-12 sleeper not long ago, suddenly mediocre Cal has faded into the shadows of virtual anonymity outside of Berkeley. Come to think of it, Fresno State hasn't had many signature wins of late either, shedding the "giant killer" image more than a few years ago. A trip to the big city to face a program from one of the Big 6 conferences affords the Bulldogs an opportunity to make a little opening day noise in their final season as a member of the WAC.
Why Fresno State Might Win: The Bulldogs are excited about their potential on offense, fielding a unit that's capable of outscoring the inconsistent Bears. The backfield, in particular, has the parts to provide a dynamite one-two punch. Now that he's healthy, Robbie Rouse is the kind of physical, no-nonsense running back that an attack can build around. After displaying intermittent flashes of brilliance over the last two seasons, he's poised for a breakout year in 2011. The junior will be joined in the backfield by a new starting quarterback, sophomore Derek Carr. The younger brother of Fresno State legend David Carr has enjoyed a terrific offseason, looking as if he's ready to hit the ground running in his debut at the controls.
Why Cal Might Win: Yes, there are concerns on the Bears offense, but there's also hope now that Tedford has taken over play-calling duties. The coach is eager to turn loose QB Zach Maynard, the left-handed Buffalo transfer who gives the program uncommon dual-threat ability. The newcomer will revel at a chance to feed RB Isi Sofele and one of the Pac-12 better receiving corps. Cal's biggest edge, however, will occur on defense. Coordinator Clancy Pendergast did an outstanding job of installing the 3-4 a year ago, which the coach expects to become a trend this fall. He has a veteran-laden unit, with enough talent in the front seven to slow down the Fresno State ground game. Inside linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt, in particular, are a pair of formidable playmakers.
What To Watch Out For: Maynard and Carr will surely be two of the primary storylines on Saturday afternoon. First-time starting quarterbacks have a knack for generating plenty of pub. Maynard is an oddity in Strawberry Canyon, hailing from Greensboro, N.C. and beginning his college career in the MAC. Despite the circuitous route, he's impressed the staff with his athleticism and quick grasp on the playbook. The presence of his half-brother Keenan Allen, a budding star at wide receiver, has helped flatten the passer's learning curve. Carr's poise for such a young player has allayed many of the fears at Fresno State. He's the kind of franchise player that's going to keep getting better with more reps.
What Will Happen: Cal has the better overall team. Fresno State has bushels of motivation. Put the two together on a neutral field, and you've got a very competitive opener. The Bears won't have nearly enough pop on offense to pull away and insert the backups. However, it does have the kind of defense to escape the Bulldogs' upset bid. It'll make a couple of key stops in the final quarter to preserve a much-needed victory for Tedford and his staff.
CFN Prediction: Cal 26 … Fresno State 20
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California -9.5 O/U: 49
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