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When the state of Washington is mentioned in a college football conversation, usually only one team is talked about. The Washington Huskies made the CFP in 2016, and gave Alabama a relatively good game. 300 miles east of UW’s campus in Pullman, there’s a storm brewing. More specifically, an air raid. Arguably one of the nation’s most complete QBs, Luke Falk, leads the Cougars (6-0, 3-0) into Berkeley to face a squad in the midst of a season in decline. Cal is coming off a 38-7 drubbing at the hands of the “other” D1 team in Washington, as Cal was unable to score a point on offense vs. the Huskies. Just two weeks prior, Cal was tied with USC in the fourth quarter looking to beat the Trojans. They’ve lost two more since being downed by the Trojans, and are staring up from the Pac-12 cellar going into Friday’s tilt. Clearly, we have two teams going in opposite directions. How does that affect the motivation for each side? Let’s dig in and see if we can get a read on it.

Washington State vs. Cal College Football Preview

Date/Time: Friday, October 13th at 10:30pm EST

TV: ESPN

College Football Betting Odds from 5Dimes

College Football Betting Favorite: Washington State -15

Total: 54

Washington State Cougars:

Many folks thought last week’s game on the road vs. Oregon was the “trap game” for the Cougars. They went into Autzen Stadium in Eugene and trounced the Ducks 33-10. The Cougs are on the road again, a little farther south from Eugene down in Berkeley, CA. Wazzu is lead by a dark horse Heisman candidate, Luke Falk. A 6’4” 223 lb. Senior from Logan, UT is looking in Heisman form, tossing for 19 TDs and only 2 INT and an even 2000 yards through six games. The Cougars’ top RB is Senior Jamal Morrow from Menifee, CA. Morrow brings a stout 7.88 YPC this season with two TDs on 37 carries with 288 total yards. Falk’s favorite target is Tavares Martin, Jr. The 6’1” 183 lb.  Junior from Belle Garde, FL has 34 receptions for 464 yards and 7 TDs through 6 games. Excellent numbers shown as the Cougars love to air it out under Coach Mike Leach. The transplant from Lubbock, TX, Leach brings his popular “air raid” offense into Pullman for the sixth season. He’s positioned the Cougars for a run at the CFP, and Friday’s game brings them one step closer to realizing that goal.

 

Cal Golden Bears:

Cal looked like a contender after week three of this season, being undefeated going into conference play. Since then, they’ve dropped the next three games and losing by a margin of 113-51 and find themselves 3-3 overall but 0-3 in PAC-12 play and at the very bottom of the standings. One bright spot, the Golden Bears did beat Washington State in 2015 at home in Berkeley, 34-28. Suffice to say, this isn’t the same Cougar team from two years prior. At the helm for Cal is Ross Bowers, a Sophomore QB from Bothell, WA. The 6’2” 220 lb signal caller has thrown for 1437 yards on the season, with a 9/8 TD to INT ratio. Their leading RB is Patrick Laird, a 6’0” 200 lb. Junior from San Luis Obispo, CA. He’s scored 4 TDs this season, with 65 carries and 400 yards in 2017. Bowers’ top target is Junior Vic Wharton III. a 5’11” 200 lb. Junior from Spring Hill, TN. Wharton has 3 TDs this season with 397 yards on 27 receptions.

 

Analysis and Free Pick:

Motivation is a heck of a powerful factor when handicapping games. On the face of it, the Cougars should destroy Cal. Cal ranks 103rd of 129 FBS teams in total offense and 102nd in total defense. Not much has gone right for Cal since their 3-0 start, as QB Bowers was sacked 17 times in the past three games. It doesn’t look to get any better for Cal, as Washington State has the 11th ranked total defense in the country. Washington State is in a horrible spot, playing on the road for the second straight week and playing on the road again next week at Colorado. I look for the Cougars to do just enough to win here. I don’t see them being fully invested in this game. I look for Cal to have a renewed focus on defense here, as they know they won’t be able to go toe-to-toe with the talented Cougar roster and depth. With the Cougars just wanting to win and not get injured, combined with Cal wanting to have a big defensive showing, this week’s free pick is on the UNDER 54.

 

Sin City Sharp’s free pick: Under 54

Please follow me on Twitter: @sincitysharp

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