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Week 9 - California at Utah

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 25, 2012


Week 9 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – California at Utah

Cal (3-5) at Utah (2-5) Oct. 27, 9:45, Pac-12 Networks

Here’s The Deal: A couple of struggling Pac-12 teams are going to look at each other for relief at Rice-Eccles Stadium this Saturday night.

Whatever postseason margin for error is left in Salt Lake City and Berkeley is going to evaporate for this week’s loser. Up-and-down Cal appeared to be heading in a northern direction with back-to-back wins over UCLA and Washington State. But last week’s 21-3 Big Game loss to rival Stanford provided a stark reminder why head coach Jeff Tedford could be on the chopping block in a month.

Utah was stumbling at this point last year, too, yet wound up going 8-5. However, this looks like a different team. Injuries are dogging the Utes, especially on offense, the culprit in a current four-game losing streak. The team returns home, where it’s been far more successful in 2012, after delivering uninspired efforts in losses to UCLA and Oregon State.

Why Cal Might Win: The Bears have issues of their own on offense, yet still possess more weapons than the Utes.

Cal won’t need a ton of touchdowns or long drives to outscore a Utah team averaging less than 20 points against six FBS opponents. One or two might do the trick. The Utes ground game has been shockingly inept, and true freshman QB Travis Wilson is still learning. The Bears will counter with a veteran behind center, Zach Maynard, a deep ground game led by C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele and next-level WR Keenan Allen. If Cal can get into the 20s, this one might already be out of reach.

Why Utah Might Win: Stanford’s rugged D kept Cal out of the end zone last week. The Utes will attempt to duplicate that effort on Saturday.

The only reason Utah has even been competitive lately is because of a veteran defense that’s stout in the front seven, tough to run on and likely to maul a Bears O-line getting whipped at the point of attack. With NT Star Lotulelei, LB Trevor Reilly and SS Brian Blechen setting the tone, the Utes will stuff Cal on first and second downs, forcing Maynard into third-and-long situations, which are not his strongest area of the game.

What To Watch Out For: Utah has been a funny team on defense this season. The Utes are tough to navigate in the middle of the field, but too often they’ve folded in the red zone. It’s an odd dichotomy since common sense would suggest that a physical D would be at its best in tight quarters. Cal’s objective will be to keep the chains moving long enough so that Maynard can hook up with his brother, Allen, for a scoring strike or two in the back of the end zone.

What Will Happen: In a toss-up game between two laboring programs, go with the one desperate one at home.

Utah is a fading team, but still one that plays much better in Salt Lake City than it does on the road. The Utes will summon up the defensive energy to keep the Cal offense reeling for a second week in a row. On offense, the Bears will not be easy to navigate. However, White is due for a decent effort, and Wilson is gradually getting more comfortable now that he has a couple of starts in enemy territory behind him. Utah is not back, but it has enough in the tank to hold serve in a tight game at home.

CFN Prediction: Utah 23 … Cal 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Utah -1 O/U: 44
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don’t Trust The B In Apt. 23): 2.5