This is a big game for Cal. Cal has never lost three in a row under Coach Tedford. But I am not a big believer in looking at past performance as indicators for the current year.
Cal has to win this game to keep their slim Rose Bowl/Pac 10 championship hopes alive. Here are some positives and negatives heading into Saturday's games.
- ASU starting RB Ryan Torain is out for the year. This is a positive for Cal, since Torain ran roughshod over the Cal defense last year.
- ASU is largely untested. Due to a soft schedule, ASU has been able to cruise through the first half of their season. How they perform on a bigger stage has yet to be seen.
- ASU's defense while solid, is not on the same level (statistically) as UCLA or Oregon St. I say statistically, because I have really only seen part of 1 ASU game so the defense might be better than the stats indicate.
- ASU struggled in its last game (2 weeks ago) against Washington St.
- Cal is playing on the road. QB Nate Longshore has a history of not performing well on the road so this does not bode well.
(Side note: I was a little surprised by some fans mentioning a QB controversy. The same fans that were calling for Kevin Riley's head after the OSU game were calling for him to replace Longshore after the UCLA loss. Ironic.)
- ASU is coming off a bye week. So they should be well rested and well prepared for Cal.
- Defensive Coordinator Bob Gregory stated after the UCLA game that there would be no changes to the defense and that the players simply needed to execute better (that was paraphrased by me). I understand his point regarding tackling and overpursuing. But what about the pass rush? Is he saying that if the guys in the trenches executed better they would be getting more pressure on the QB?
No more score predictions for the rest of the season, as I am obviously horrible at it. Let's just say, I think Cal will bounce back in the desert [Update: Correct from dessert to desert, see comment #1 for more details].
Nate will do enough to not lose the game while Forsett will re-establish himself as the conference's best running back with a huge game.
ASU will score points but the defense will come up with some big plays at the right moments (like in the Oregon game). Go Bears.