BERKELEY, Calif. - Two PAC12 North teams have fallen from high expectations this season, both Washington State and Cal entered conference play as Top-25 teams, but now find themselves fighting for bowl eligibility.
The winner Saturday afternoon will come down to WSU's ability to score on offense, and Justin Wilcox's Cal defense's ability to stop them.
The Bears started the season 4-0, including a win over 14th-ranked Washington in Seattle. They lost starting quarterback Chase Garbers to an injury in a win over Ole Miss after that, and have since played three quarterbacks. None of them have been able to generate more than 17 points on offense in four straight losses.
Washington State and Cal meet in Berkeley after bye weeks. Cal suffered their worst loss of the season to Utah, getting shut out 38-0 in Salt Lake City.
The Cougars have a closer, but maybe more painful loss in their most recent memory. A last-second field goal by No. 11(at the time) Oregon's kicker kept WSU from winning five straight over the Ducks, falling 37-35 in Eugene.
Cal head coach Justin Wilcox has made his defense elite in the Pac-12, while Cougar head coach Mike Leach is known for the nation's leading offense in terms of passing yards. WSU QB Anthony Gordon has thrown for 3,387 yards and 32 touchdowns this season. But Cal gives up the second-lowest passing yards per game at 212.9, so it will be fun to see their game plan against Washington State.
The cougar defense has been their weakness. No team in the conference gives up more yards per game at 512.6. While they looked improved against Oregon, they've given up back-breaking plays at the end of close games that has left the Cougs 1-4 in Pac12 play.
Kickoff in Berkeley is set for 4 p.m. on PAC12 Networks. Make sure to watch 4 News Now throughout the night for highlights and reaction as the Cougs look for win number five on the season.
- Cougars take down Stanford, one win away from a bowl game
- Eagles hang on to beat Cal Poly in a shootout
- Idaho falls flat at home aginst Hornets
- No. 8 Gonzaga has no trouble in first road test, downing Texas A&M 79-49
- WSU women's soccer moves on in NCAA tourney with win over Memphis
- Coeur d'Alene advances to state championship, Mt. Spokane dismantles Peninsula