California can put up a lot of points and yards through the air and it is going to come down to the Cougars secondary stepping their game up. With an average of 47.5 points and 366 yards per game there is a lot that the Bears can do to take big shots down the field.
The secondary has struggled this season and has given up a lot of big plays through the air. It has helped a lot that the front 7 are putting pressure on the quarterback but they have yet to see a quarterback like Jared Goff. Two weeks ago the team had 7 sacks on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and will need to see a repeat of that this weekend on Goff.
2. Rushing Game
The Cougars rushing game has increased tremendously throughout the season and it is going to be a big part of the game as they continue forward. In the first two games they had a total of 44 rushing yards and since then they haven’t had a game that they rushed for less than 65 yards.
Connor Halliday has been able to hand the ball off if things are not going so well in the pocket. They have struggled with this a lot recently and it is finally turning around and being something that the Cougars can actually use. California has given up 128.25 yards a game on the ground and have given up a touchdown each game.
Washington State is really going to need to use the rushing game to wear out California and help the passing game out and put the game away quick.
3. Home Crowd
With the players getting a taste of a sold out crowd there is nothing more that they want than to have another game that deep into the 4th quarter there is still a full stadium. California can put up a lot of points and we have seen the Cougars do the same. It is going to take a lot to outscore California and they are going to need the fans to back them up if they get down early or at all.
Last weekend we saw them come back from a 21-point deficit against Utah in Salt Lake City, imagine what they can do at home with the crowd behind them. California averages 47.5 points a game while throwing 366 yards a game and has shown that they can both lose and win close games. The home crowd is going to play a major role in this game and it is going to be important that they stick behind the team and stay through the whole game.
Connor Halliday has been having a great season so far and he is going to need to keep that up this weekend. He averages 463.6 yards a game while having scored 20 touchdowns and has 7 interceptions on the season.
California has a good offense and can really do a lot of work when it comes down to it. They are led by Jared Goff who has 334.8 yards per game and is 9th in that category. Halliday is going to have to outperform Goff this weekend and is going to have to earn all 450+ yards that he will throw for.
With a running game that hardly ever hits over 100 yards it is really going to come down to his performance and him having the “clutch” factor when needed.
In case you didn’t pick it up yet, California has a high power offense and has the ability to put up 50 points on anyone. They are led by a quarterback who has thrown 3 interceptions to his 17 touchdowns and has 1,339 yards. The sophomore quarterback doesn’t turn the ball over often and neither does the rest of the team.
The Cougars are going to need to step up their game and win the turnover battle this weekend to help Halliday and the rest of the offense out. We have seen them put up a lot of points but the next week struggle to put up any. Winning the turnover battle this week is going to be huge for them and are going to give them even more chances to put this game out of reach early in the game.