Cal vs. Arizona State Prediction, Game Preview

    Cal vs. Arizona State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Golden Bears and Sun Devils.

    September 19, 2016

    Cal vs. Arizona State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Golden Bears and Sun Devils.


    Cal vs. Arizona State Game Preview

    When: Saturday, Sept. 24– 10:00 p.m. ET
    Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
    TV Broadcast: ESPN2

    The Golden Bears have set a tone early on in the 2016 season. In both of their wins, they needed at least 50 points to come out on top. It started with a 20-point victory over Hawaii in Australia to open the season. Then last week, Cal took down Texas, 50-43. Cal’s only loss thus far was at 45-40 defeat to San Diego State, the defending Mountain West champions, in Week 2.

    Unlike the Golden Bears, the Sun Devils still have an unblemished record with three straight wins over Northern Arizona, Texas Tech and UTSA. However, the Roadrunners certainly gave Todd Graham’s team a run for its money last weekend. UTSA was ahead 14-12 going into halftime and extended its lead to 28-15 by the end of the third quarter. Arizona State opened it up in the fourth, though, scoring 17 unanswered points to take the win. 

    What To Know About Cal

    Graduate transfer quarterback Davis Webb has been solid for Dykes and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital so far. He had the unique job of replacing a three-year starter and No. 1 overall pick in Jared Goff, and he hasn’t disappointed. Webb has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 1,359 yards and 13 touchdowns. His go-to target has been Chad Hansen. The redshirt junior wide receiver recorded 12 catches for 196 yards and two touchdowns and was named one of the Pac-12 Players of the Week after the win over Texas. He leads the nation in receptions (40), receptions per game (13.3), receiving yards (546) and receiving yards per game (182).

    What to Know About Arizona State

    Just as Hansen was named one of the Pac-12 Players of the Week, Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez was, too. He hit 4-of-5 field goals in the win over UTSA, and two of them were from 54 yards out, which tied a career long. That performance gave him the No. 1 spot on the Pac-12’s all-time scoring list (424). Of course, there was plenty of offense  supplied by Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage and Manny Wilkins, who combined for 204 rushing yards and a touchdown. Wilkins, however, could have been better throwing the ball. He completed 48.4 percent of his passes for 264 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. 

    Advantages

    Offense: This one’s close. It’s Cal’s aerial attack versus Arizona State’s run game. The edge has to go the Sun Devils. Even though Wilkins was subpar throwing the ball last week, the threat he provides with his legs makes it tough to defend. With Ballage emerging as a legitimate playmaker, Graham still has Richard and N’Keal Harry ready to make plays when they’re called upon.

    Defense: Both defensive units are outside the top 100 in total defense. The Sun Devils are allowing 32 points per game to Cal’s 39.7, so it seems like a toss up. But this one goes to Arizona State because of the individual play of Armand Perry and D.J. Calhoun, who are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in tackles on the team. 

    Special Teams: Well, considering the fact Gonzalez is the all-time leading scorer in the Pac-12, it’s kind of hard to go against the Sun Devils.

    Coaching: Nothing against Graham and his staff, but Dykes has a real weapon in Spavital, who’s one of the brightest, young offensive minds in the game. Advantage: Cal. 

    Matchup To Watch

    Davis Webb vs. Arizona State secondary

    Webb has been lighting it up. He was dropping dimes in the bucket all night against the Longhorns, and we even saw some read option from him in the red zone. If he’s going to have the long ball working, it’ll be tough for Arizona State to defend. Cal also likes to work the screen game and have Webb attack the pylons when they’re within striking distance, so it will be interesting to see the different looks the Sun Devils give him. We could see a lot of cover 3 from Arizona State, who could live with Webb completing short throws as long as the big plays are limited. 

    Cal vs. Arizona State Betting Odds

    Spread: Arizona State -4
    Over/Under: 81.5

    Cal vs. Arizona State Prediction

    Webb is going to have another big night. He’ll get the short game working to simply get in a rhythm, and then he’ll start to open it up and really attack the Arizona State safeties. This one will be back and forth, though. Wilkins will pick up a couple touchdowns on designed run plays, and Ballage will provide plenty of help. However, Wilkins will make a mistake or two and give the Golden Bears great field position. Cal will have a few big drives in the second half and come out with the upset win on the road. 

    Cal vs. Arizona State Score Prediction: Cal 52, Arizona State 48

    MORE: 1-128 College Football Rankings – Week 4

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