Oregon vs. Cal prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Friday night’s matchup between the Ducks and Golden Bears.
Oregon vs. Cal Game Preview
When: Friday, Oct. 21 – 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
TV Broadcast: ESPN
The good news for the Ducks (2-4) is they’re coming off of a bye week, so everyone should be well rested. The bad news is the previous four games leading into the bye week had Oregon on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Since opening up the season 2-0, Mark Helfrich’s team has gone winless since. The Ducks’ most recent loss in Week 6 was to Pac-12 power Washington, who stomped Oregon in Eugene, 70-21.
The Golden Bears (3-3) have been unable to go streaking in either direction during an up-and-down first half of the season for them. What Cal does have in its corner are two wins against the only two ranked teams it’s faced so far. It took down then-No. 11 Texas in Week 3, 50-43. In Week 5, Sonny Dykes’ team pulled out a 28-23 win over then-No. 18 Utah. Like the Ducks, the Golden Bears are coming off of a bye week, which they needed after falling on the road to Oregon State, 47-44, on Oct. 8.
While the all-time series still favors Cal, 40-37-2, it’s been the Ducks who have held a firm grasp of the momentum over the last few years. Oregon has won seven straight matchups with the Golden Bears, dating back to 2009. In 2015, the Ducks won in Eugene, 44-28. The last time Cal beat Oregon in 2008, Mike Bellotti was the head coach of the Ducks.
What To Know About Oregon
What started out as the Royce Freeman show has slowly evolved into a running back by committee approach for Oregon. Freeman’s health certainly contributed to it, but he looked okay against a gruesome Washington defense. He rushed for 50 yards on 11 carries. Tony Brooks-James put up 60 rushing yards on eight touches, and Jarret LaCoste tallied 55 yards on 10 carries.
Brooks-James has been a factor for the Ducks in the passing game as well. He caught three balls against the Huskies for 19 yards and a touchdown. With his speed, he’s a matchup problem for a lot of linebackers and even some defensive backs Of course, it wasn’t Dakota Prukop throwing him the ball. It was true freshman Justin Herbert, who got his first start of his career against the toughest team in the conference. Herbert completed 24-of-39 passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. His second touchdown pass was a 21-yard strike to Taj Griffin midway through the third quarter — when Oregon had already allowed 42 points.
What to Know About Cal
The Golden Bears have a few injuries right now, but none are as big as the ones to Chad Hansen and Davis Webb. Hansen left Cal’s loss to Oregon State with a foot injury, and Webb has been dealing with a hand injury. At the moment, Dykes expects both to play on Friday. Webb, who may be the most NFL-ready quarterback in college football, has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 2,256 yards and 22 touchdowns.
His go-to target has been Hansen, who’s caught eight of those touchdowns while reeling in 59 catches for 770 yards. If Hansen is held out, keep an eye on true freshman Demetris Robertson. He was arguably the most explosive recruit in the 2016 class, and he’s brought in 20 catches for 338 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Offense: Cal – Assuming Webb and Hansen are going to be ready like Dykes thinks they will, the Golden Bears get the nod — especially with Robertson’s big play ability.
Defense: Cal – Look, both defensive units have been ugly this season, but while the Ducks rank close to last in most defensive categories, the Golden Bears are simply a few spots above them in most as well.
Special Teams: Cal – Matt Anderson has been spot on kicking the ball, and Khalfani Muhammad has been dynamite in the kick return game.
Coaching: Cal – One of these is looking to snap a four-game losing streak, and the other isn’t. It’s as simple as that. Oh, and having Jake Spavital running your offense is a pretty big deal.
Matchup To Watch
Davis Webb vs. Oregon secondary
If Webb is good to go, the Ducks are in trouble. Oregon is No. 117 in passing defense, allowing 284.3 yards per game through the air. Meanwhile, Webb is No. 3 in the country with 376 passing yards per game. Four Ducks have accounted for five interceptions this year, and if they can’t get a pass rush going against Cal, they’ll come out of this game with nothing to show for it but those same five picks. If Oregon doesn’t get a hand in Webb’s face, he’ll torch Brady Hoke’s defense — just as he’s done to every team he’s played against this season.
Spread: Cal -2.5
Over/Under: No line as of post
Oregon vs. Cal Prediction
We could see a little more from running backs Vic Enwere and Muhammad in the running game if Webb is held out, but again, working with the idea he’ll probably start, the Cal quarterback will tear the Oregon secondary to shreds. Robertson will have a solid game either way, but it could be a big day for him if Hansen sits out. Either way, the true freshman will find the end zone. The Ducks will put points up on the board, too. Herbert will dump it off to Brooks-James for a score, who will also cross the plane on the ground. Freeman will tack on some points, and it’ll be a shootout. But, when the final whistle blows, it’ll be Cal who comes out on top.
Oregon vs. Cal Score Prediction: Cal 52, Oregon 42