OK, it’s that time of the week again.Â Time for me to share predictions on the Cal game.
Before I get started, forgive me for feeling the need to rant about the TV coverage or lack thereof.Â WHAT THE HECK!?! I have no way to check, but I bet Cal is the only team in the Top 25… including Rutgers… that doesn’t have their game on at least some subscription channel.Â I though that was the point of Comcast SportsNet, to cover the games that the big boys don’t want.Â ARG!?!Â I’ve been tempted all week to plan a trip to Corvalis.Â I would do it too if I didn’t:
- love my family
- not want to drive 20 hours in a weekend
- not have time to blow the whole weekend on a minor game
- lack the finances for the ticket
- lack the finances for the gas
- lack the finances for a place to stay (noticing a trend here).
As a plus, I’ll get to listen to Starkey call the game.Â I don’t wear headphones at the games (it’s a family event, why would I block out my family?) and I don’t listen to the radio coverage when I’m watching the game on TV because of the TiVo.Â I’m a big fan of rewinding plays and that just doesn’t work with radio coverage.Â If someone can ever figure out how input alternate audio for a TV program into a TiVo (so it syncs with my rewinding), please let me know.Â I’ll be your buddy for life.
In any case,Â listening to Starkey is the upside but it completelyÂ blows that a Cal game isn’t on TV.Â So much for a return to prominence….
OK, I’m done complaining about the lack of TV coverage… onto the game:
I won’t lie, I’m nervous about this game.Â In the end, I thinkÂ Cal’s going to win, but OSU is the type of team that can really take it to the Bears and has a history of doing so.Â Tedford has lost 3 of his 4 games against them.Â OSU beats Cal by controlling the football and being physical on defense.Â Last year it felt likeÂ Cal only had the ball 4 times all game and thenÂ OSU took their sweet time to march down the field Big-12 rushing style.Â Then whenÂ Cal got the ball back, Lynch had no where to run because OSU was putting 27 defenders in the box (at least it felt that way).Â They dared Ayoob to throw it.Â It was ugly.
This year,Â OSU won’t be able to get away with that.Â Cal’s offense is too balanced and it’ll run up the score like nobody’s business if they try loading the box like they did last year.Â However, I’m still worriedÂ OSU willÂ control the ball through the running game and will keep this game a lot closer than it should be.Â In the end,Â Cal has too much fire-power, but it still wories me.Â Our best hope is to score a few TD’s early to get them out of their ball-control running game.Â If that happens, this could be a Cal blowout.Â
But I don’t see that as the likely scenario.Â Their defense is good enough (although I think they suffer from the same over-praiseÂ from a weak non-conference schedule that ASU had) and their game-planing is strong enough that they’re not going to letÂ Cal haveÂ a bunch of earlyÂ quick scores.Â They’ll makeÂ Cal earnÂ its points.Â But earn them Cal will and it’ll be too much for OSU, despite them doing their best to control the ball.
Which brings me to my final topic to discuss: the Cal run defense.Â As much as I don’t think they have to play well to win this game, it would make a world of difference if Cal could shut down the OSU run game.Â Even if OSU is able to score more frequently because of it, it’ll also mean that the Cal will get the ball more often for its offense to run up the score.Â So, in my opinion, this week is the opposite of last week.Â Last week Cal was willing to sacrifice the run defense to shutdown the pass-offense of a dangerous ASU team.Â This week Cal should be willing to give up a more prolific passing game to shutdown the running game of OSU.Â It’ll be interesting to see the game plan Gregory comes up with.
To wrap up all of these thoughts, I’m pretty sure Cal will win this no matter what, but a strong OSU running game will be the determining factor as to whether it remains competitive: Cal 35, OSU 24.