Cal vs. Utah Prediction, Game Preview

    Cal vs. Utah prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Friday night's matchup between the Golden Bears and Utes.

    September 27, 2016

    Cal vs. Utah prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Golden Bears and Utes.


    When: Saturday, Oct. 1 – 6:00 p.m. ET
    Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
    TV Broadcast: Pac-12 Network

    The Golden Bears (2-2) have simply not been able to put it all together this season. After a 51-31 win over Hawaii in Australia, Cal fell to San Diego State on the road. Then, after taking down a surging Texas team in Week 3, Sonny Dykes’ team fell to Arizona State last week, 51-41. Cal went into halftime against the Sun Devils with a 24-10 lead, but Arizona State put up 31 points in the fourth quarter — 17 unanswered — to defeat the Golden Bears.

    It’s been a different story for Kyle Whittingham’s Utes. They come into this matchup ranked No. 18 and undefeated at 4-0. After a season opening win over Southern Utah, Whittingham’s team took down BYU and his former defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake. Utah picked up its first road win in Week 3 by taking down San Jose State, 34-17. Last week added another win to their record when the Utes beat the USC Trojans in Utah, 31-27. Utah was down at halftime, 17-10, but it dropped 14 points on the Trojans in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

    The all-time series between Cal and Utah is tied, 5-5. The last time they met was on Oct. 10, 2015, and the Utes took that game, 30-24.

    What To Know About Cal

    Dykes has really trusted Davis Webb to sling the ball around this season, and it’s worked for the most part. Webb and wide receiver Chad Hansen have developed into a lethal combination. Last weekend, they hooked up 10 times for 110 yards and one touchdown, but Webb finished with 478 passing yards and five touchdowns to two interceptions.

    The Golden Bears aren’t too sharp on defense. They’re ranked No. 117 in total defense, allowing 491.8 yards per game. That includes the No. 123-ranked rushing defense (263.25 yards per game).

    What to Know About Utah

    The Utah defense is no joke — much more stout than Cal. With sophomore linebacker Cody Barton leading the way, the Utes are ranked No. 24 in total defense (314.3 yards per game).

    On the other side of the ball, quarterback Troy Williams took care of the ball last weekend against USC. he threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. He found Tim Patrick six times for 100 yards and a touchdown. With the aerial attack working, Utah only rushed for 186 yards as a team, but running back Troy McCormick provides versatility out of the backfield as a pass catcher. The only problem is Utah didn’t take advantage of that against the Trojans. McCormick had only one catch for seven yards.

    Advantages

    Offense: This one has to go to Cal. Utah can put up points, but Webb can spread the ball around all over the field. The chemistry he has with Hansen is why the Golden Bears get the nod.

    Defense: This has to go to Utah. The Utes are playing well defensively so far this season, and Barton is an absolute beast in the second level.

    Special Teams: Both Andy Phillips and Matt Anderson have been spot on in the kicking game this season. But Cal gets this category because Khalfani Muhammad is a real threat to return a kickoff for six.

    Coaching: Dykes has a bright offensive mind in offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, but Whittingham has a more talented staff. Advantage: Utah.

    Matchup To Watch

    Troy Williams vs. Davis Webb

    Troy Williams isn’t the type of quarterback capable of taking over a game with his arm, and Utah won’t ask him to do that. But it will be fun to watch him duel with Davis Webb. Cal lets Webb whip the ball around, so it will be interesting to see how they both perform. Williams has the ability to extend plays with his legs, but Webb can hit every route on the tree. Webb is precise with the football, but it’s not as though he’s immune from turnovers. The quarterback who protects the ball and efficiently stretches the field will have a big impact on the outcome.

    Betting Odds

    Spread: Cal – 1.5
    Over/Under: 67

    Cal vs. Utah Prediction

    The Utes can stop a lot of offenses, but they won’t stop Cal. Webb and Hansen will hook up for a pair of touchdowns and at least 100 yards. The Golden Bears will give up a few points, too — especially on the ground. Cal simply can’t defend the run well enough to force Utah to air it out. Williams will let it fly when he needs to, and McCormick will have a bigger role in the passing game. At the end of the day, the Utes’ secondary simply won’t be able to slow down Webb, who will have all the time he needs to launch the ball down field — and to the flats. After all, he likes to get the ball out to Hansen in the screen game and on the edge. Cal wins by one possession.

    Cal vs. Utah Score Prediction: Cal 41, Utah 37

    MORE: 1-128 College Football Rankings – Week 5

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