CFB

Cal Golden Bears Vs. Northwestern Wildcats Free Pick 8/31/13

Cal Golden Bears Vs. Northwestern Wildcats Free Pick 8/31/13
2013-08-31 09:30:00 EDT

Opening weekend of the college football season has a number of doozies. One of the better games might be in Berkely where the possibly overrated #22 Northwestern Wildcats battle Sonny Dykes’ California Golden Bears.

Cal gets another shot to make something positive of themselves at their new stadium. Last year Jeff Tedford made the Bears great men off the field. Unfortunately, on the field, Tedford didn’t have too much success. Finishing 3-9, 2-7 was expected due to a 93rd scoring offense and 98th scoring defense.

I’ll go out on a limb and say Cal has a better season. It all starts with NW who could be a Big-Ten sleeper. The Bears are so far behind in the Pacific-12 Conference that calling them a dark horse would be too much hype to bear.

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Honestly, though, California has the talent to make a bowl game. Had the Golden Bears handled business versus Nevada and shocked #2 Ohio State in Columbus a year ago, a bowl berth would have been attainable.

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As it was, Cal lost by a touchdown to each opponent and other than surprising #21 UCLA, didn’t shock any of us in a good way. The Bears had four games at the start of the year you figured they’d win and California only won two.

The Golden Bears fell in Berkeley by eight, 10, 18 and 42 points too. Cal throttled the Bruins 43-17. Junior running back C.J. Anderson may be the most talented Bear returning. Senior wide receiver Keen Allen is also in the running for that honor, but did have almost half the production of his sophomore season as a junior (737 to 1,347 yards).

The ‘Cats were better offensively at 42nd in scoring, but did finish 110th in passing. If California can make Northwestern one-dimensional without having too much success in the trenche,s then the Wildcats will be in for a very long night.

NW was 29th in scoring defense. Considering the ‘Cats surrendered 41 points at Syracuse during the opener, that’s remarkable. #17 Michigan and Penn State also throttled Northwestern’s defense for 38 and 39 points. Even Indiana and #18 Nebraska managed 29 points apiece. The first two came on the road.

The Wildcats were 3-2 in away games and defeated Mississippi State 34-20 during the Gator Bowl. NW won last year’s road affairs by one, three and eight points. Picking the ‘Cats to cover seems like wishful thinking.

Senior quarterback Kain Colter is a dual threat, but more dangerous as a runner. Eight TDs, four interceptions and 11 sacks last season for Colter as well as junior QB Trevor Siemian thiteming six TDs to three INTs has me skeptical about Northwestern’s offense. The team who makes the fewer mistakes, i.e. penalties and turnovers, wins.

 

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Mitch Wilson's Free Pick:
California Golden Bears +5.5
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Mitch Wilson

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