Stanford vs. California Prediction, Game Preview

    Stanford vs. California prediction and game preview. The Cardinal and Golden Bears fight for bragging rights in the Battle for the Axe.

    November 17, 2015

    The Stanford Cardinal (8-2) hopes to protect its narrowing North Division lead when the rival Cal Bears (6-4) visit. Check out the Stanford vs. California prediction and game preview.

    Stanford vs. California Prediction & Preview


    Date: Saturday, November 21
    Game Time: 10:30 ET
    Network: ESPN

    Why You Need To Care

    Stanford and Cal meet for the 118th edition of the Big Game, a rivalry of great consequence, meaning and lore in Northern California.

    And while the Cardinal’s heartbreaking loss to Oregon a week ago dashed hopes for a playoff run, the team can still capture the Pac-12 North with a win on Saturday night. In fact, if Stanford stumbles to the Bears, it could open the door for the Ducks to return to the league title game. Cal finally punched its postseason ticket with last week’s rout of Oregon State, which snapped a frustrating four-game losing streak. Now, the Bears have their sights firmly fixed on a new skid, hoping to grab The Axe for the first time since 2009.

    Why Cal Will Win

    If the Oregon game proved one thing, it’s that the Stanford D is not without flaws.
    Sonny Dykes’ Bears plan to expose it this weekend.

    The Cardinal allowed 9.1 yards per play to the Ducks, failing to corral their athletic playmakers. Cal has a similar collection of athletes as Oregon, as well as a far better passer, Jared Goff. Goff, back on track after strafing Oregon State for six touchdown passes, will spread the field by getting the ball in the hands of backs Vic Enwere and Tre Watson and receivers Bryce Treggs and Kenny Lawler. And Goff won’t have to contend with Stanford’s best cover corner, Ronnie Harris, who injured his ankle last week. Even when the Bears were losing last month, they were competing, falling by only six points apiece to Utah and USC.

    Why Stanford Will Win

    Cal will wilt in the face of Stanford’s physicality.

    The Cardinal is the far better team at the point of attack, a key reason why RB Christian McCaffrey is a Heisman contender. It’ll be vintage Stanford on Saturday night, bullying an opponent on the ground with C Graham Shuler and guards Joshua Garnett and Johnny Caspers paving the road on the interior. And there’ll be no reason to deviate from the script against an average Bear front allowing almost 200 yards a game on the ground. Once McCaffrey begins to roll, it’ll create clean looks for QB Kevin Hogan to find WR Michael Rector and TE Austin Hooper open downfield on play-action.

    Player Who Matters

    This will be a huge test for Stanford senior FS Kodi Whitfield, who must keep the secondary cohesive against the Cal passing game. Harris is a huge loss, both physically and emotionally. And he’ll be supplanted by a redshirt freshman, Alameen Murphy. Whitfield must provide support to his corners, because Goff has the big and accurate arm to carve up defensive backfields. He’ll also need to have a short memory after a rough outing in the loss to Oregon last week.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    It’s Goff vs. McCaffrey in a duel between two of the Pac-12’s premier offensive playmakers.

    Goff and McCaffrey will take center stage Saturday night, going toe-to-toe in a game that’ll require all four quarters to determine the Axe’s rightful owner. The curtain was pulled back on the Stanford D last week, a situation exacerbated by Harris’ bum ankle. And Goff will seize the opportunity through the air. But McCaffrey and the Cardinal linemen, on both sides of the ball, will eventually wear down the Bears for a hard-fought sixth straight win in the storied series.

    Cal vs. Stanford Prediction

    Prediction: Stanford 38, Cal 31, Line: Stanford -11, o/u: 64.5
    Must See Rating: 5: The Night Before … 1: Donny! … 3


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