Long road ahead for Cal football

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

After a disappointing loss against San Diego State in what some were calling a must-win game, the Cal football team must earn five more wins in order to cap its season off with a bowl game. Here are how each of Cal’s upcoming opponents fared in their respective games this past weekend — Oregon State and Stanford were on bye.

Texas — Won 41-7 against UTEP

True freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and the dominant Texas offense defended their then-No. 11 ranking Saturday against UTEP. Combining 171 rushing yards with Buechele’s 244 passing yards led the Longhorns to an easy 34-point win. On the other side of the ball, the Longhorns allowed just seven points, meaning that Cal must sharpen up its offense for Saturday’s game. Expect Texas to come into Saturday’s game with early playoff ambitions mounting; after TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma were all recently defeated by non-conference opponents, the Longhorns suddenly represent the Big 12’s most likely College Football Playoff contender.

Arizona State — Won 68-55 against Texas Tech

The headline story of the evening for Arizona State was junior running back Kalen Ballage’s record-breaking eight touchdowns in a home-run-derby-esque victory over Texas Tech. The Sun Devils put up 652 yards — 301 rushing and 351 passing. For Cal to stand a chance against Arizona State’s dominant offense, the focus must be on shutting down the run game.

Utah — Won 20-19 against BYU

The Holy War between Utah and BYU is not known for its mundanity, and this year was no exception. Utah struggled to control the ball, giving up six turnovers, but BYU simply could not capitalize. Relying heavily on defense and perhaps a stroke of luck, Utah pulled out the win after BYU scored a touchdown with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter and then unsuccessfully attempted a two-point conversion. Regardless of the turnover issues, the Utes still sit fourth in ESPN’s Pac-12 power rankings, so Cal will certainly have its hands full when Utah comes to town in Week 5.

Oregon — Won 44-26 against Virginia

As it is known to do, the Oregon offense put on a show Saturday night against Virginia. Junior running back Royce Freeman continued to make his case for the Heisman, putting up 236 total yards — not to mention taking it to the house twice. On top of that, transfer quarterback Dakota Prukop got into a solid rhythm, putting up 331 yards and three touchdown passes. If the Bears hope to improve on the 777 yards allowed in their matchup with Oregon last year, they will have to contain Freeman and the Ducks’ up-tempo offensive attack.

USC — Won 45-7 against Utah State

After a tough loss in what might have been college football’s most hyped game of the year against Alabama in Week 1, USC bounced back to beat Utah State, 45-7. Utah State looked as outmatched as most had considered it to be, scoring a single late-game touchdown and amassing a “whopping” 253 yards. Despite this commanding win, the Trojans remain largely untested, making a matchup with Cal potentially more interesting than it typically has been.

Washington — Won 59-14 against Idaho

Riding a wave of high accolades and high expectations, Washington has now cruised to its second easy victory in a 59-14 rout of Idaho. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning led a commanding offense, tying a school record with his five touchdown passes. The defense also showed up, holding the Vandals without a first down in the second quarter. While all the hype surrounding Washington has proven justified so far, there are still quite a few games before the Huskies face Cal on Nov. 5.

Washington State — Lost 31-28 against Boise State

As the only other Pac-12 team unable to notch a victory this weekend, Washington State has come out of the gate looking sluggish in the first two weeks of the season. Despite two fourth quarter interceptions, Washington State was unable to pull ahead. Based off the first two weeks of the season, Washington State appears to be the most beatable opponent Cal will face in conference play. If the Bears have any intentions of playing in a bowl game this season, Washington State is simply a necessary victory.

UCLA — Won 42-21 against UNLV

Returning quarterback Josh Rosen showcased his offense’s versatility, completing passes to 13 different receivers against a weak UNLV defense. The Bruins’ defense certainly could have done more, allowing UNLV to amass 175 yards on the ground. The Bears offense will have to exploit that, along with UCLA’s notorious inconsistency, in order to win their last game of the season.

Contact Adriana Ghiozzi at 


SEPTEMBER 16, 2016