In what has been a weird Pac-12 season, Stanford still has a legitimate shot to make the title Game. With a good chance to finish the regular season with Four losses, not many would have expected the Cardinal to be in this situation. But with a home win against Cal this weekend, that could be possible, pending on the results of the Apple Cup. The Cardinal were -16 point favorites as of Tuesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Stanford won this Game fairly easily last season in a 45-31 route on the road. It was made possible from 357 rushing yards on 7.1 yards per carry. The Golden Bears started 3-0, but have since fallen off with the only Pac-12 positive being a 37-3 home win against Washington State. On the road, this team hasn’t been good, from losing by 21 points at Oregon and then by 16 at Colorado only a couple weeks ago. Similar to every season, the Cal defense is one of the worst in the nation, giving up 432 yards and almost 30 points per Game. The good news in this one is that their pass defense is worse than their rush defense, although that probably won’t be enough to win.
If Stanford makes the Pac-12 title Game, Bryce Love could easily be in the running for the Heisman even after missing one Game. Love has 1,622 yards to go with 9.0 yards per carry and should add to that total in this one. After a few difficult matchups, he could have another one of his blowout Games in which he surpasses 200 yards and has a couple touchdowns of longer than 50 yards. K.J. Costello has started under center the last few Games, but that doesn’t really matter. Stanford is a team that’s only going to run the ball, especially if it’s working and it should work in this Game.
Covering for Cal will depend on the other side of the field. The Golden Bears scored 31 points in this Game last year and may have to do so again. Production has been slightly all over the place for them, but against beatable defenses, quarterback Ross Bowers has shown up. Stanford’s defense has been surprisingly mediocre this season, giving up 170 rushing yards per Game.
The problem with that stat is that Cal is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry as a team. Patrick LAird is coming off a Game in which he went for 214 rushing yards and if he can build off that performance, that would at least be a building block for this offense. If not, Bowers will be forced into action and that’s hit-or-miss as seen in his 17 touchdowns and 11 picks. Cal definitely has the offense to keep up in this Game, but its struggles on the road will be hard to back.
The Golden Bears are 1-7 ATS in their last eight road Games, while the Cardinal are 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight following a straight-up win. The favorite (Stanford) has covered in the last five meetings between these teams.
Our Pick – Cal +14