Week 6 Pac-12: Cal at Washington State Preview

Cal (3-1) at Washington State (2-3) Oct. 4, 10:30, Pac-12 Network 

Here’s The Deal: Cal and Washington State have more relevance than at any point in the last few seasons. And not just because the quarterbacks might combine for 1,000 yards on the Palouse this week. The Bears and the Cougars are coming off thrilling wins, the likes of which could shift the direction of their seasons. Cal rallied to defeat Colorado in double-overtime, 59-56, to snap its 15-game Pac-12 losing streak. Wazzu delivered a most improbable upset of unbeaten Utah in Salt Lake City, erasing an early 21-0 deficit.

Why Cal Might Win: Both teams can air it out on offense, and have great weapons on the outside. But Bear QB Jared Goff has the added benefit of Daniel Lasco and Khalfani Muhammad in his rear view mirror. If the Cougars dismiss the running game, Lasco and Muhammad have the wheels to go the distance in a hurry. Cal has already proven it can thrive on the road, beating Northwestern and coming within a Hail Mary from shocking Arizona in Tucson. 
Why Washington State Might Win: The defense has improved incrementally since the opener, which could be all QB Connor Halliday needs to get his team back to .500. The Cougars have done a solid job of getting a push, sacking Oregon’s Marcus Mariota two weeks ago. Xavier Cooper, Kache Palacio and Ivan McClennan are winning battles up front, while route-jumping corners Daquawn Brown Charleston White are growing up in a hurry.

Who To Watch Out For: Does Cal have a shot of stopping Halliday after allowing seven touchdown passes to Colorado QB Sefo Liufau? If so, it better generate pressure from linemen Todd Barr and Brennan Scarlett. Halliday has a quick trigger and a slew of capable targets, like Isiah Myers, Vince Mayle and Dom Williams, but he will turn the ball over when someone bears down on him.

What’s Going To Happen: With Mike Leach and Sonny Dykes at the same venue, the fireworks are pretty much built in. The Cougars and the Bears will trade haymakers for four hours in a game that won’t be decided until the final moments. Washington State, emboldened by last week’s comeback win, will get a last-minute Halliday scoring strike to outgun Cal in a predictably wild affair.

Prediction: Washington State 45 … Cal 41 
Line: Washington State -3.5 o/u: 78.5 
Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 2.5