No. 13 Oregon is the only remaining team in the North Division without a loss and looking to stay atop of the North standings. The well-rested Ducks (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) host California (4-1, 1-1) in their Pac-12 Conference home opener.
By the numbers, stats and gambling spread
Numbers to know: The Bears look to claim their fourth victory in the past five games vs. teams ranked in the top 15.
Fun fact: Cal head coach Justin Wilcox played safety and cornerback at Oregon (1996-99). In 1999, he was named second-team All-Pac-10 and earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors.
Betting line: The Ducks opened as 14-point favorites over the Bears. The line has since shifted to -18 with a 46 total points over/under.
Players to keep an eye on
Cal has held 12 straight opponents under 25 points, which is the longest active streak in the country and tied for the longest since 2013.
Evan Weaver is a tackling machine and on the short list of best defensive players in college football. He’s disruptive and involved in every play. The inside linebacker leads the nation in total tackles (78), total tackles per game (15.6), solo tackles (43) and solo tackles per game (8.6). Weaver has posted 10+ tackles in 12 straight games, the longest consecutive streak in the country.
Cal’s experienced secondary is nicknamed, the “Takers” after the 2010 movie. A group of six players have started 114 games in the defensive backfield since the start of 2017. They combine for 26 career interceptions, second most in the country and have allowed two passing touchdowns in five games this season.
Two Oregon receivers have been cleared to play on Saturday. Senior Brenden Schooler and freshman Mycah Pittman have the opportunity to impact and add needed depth to an already thriving Oregon passing offense.
Cal’s first defeat of the season came with a major blow. Starting quarterback Chase Garbers suffered a right shoulder injury during Cal’s 27-17 loss to Arizona State Friday night. Bears coach Justin Wilcox announced Monday night that the sophomore is out indefinitely.
Bears backup quarterback Devon Modster will be in command vs. Oregon. Modster transferred to Cal this past offseason after leaving the UCLA program in 2018, where he backed up Josh Rosen. Last Friday in relief, he completed just five of his 12 passes for 23 yards with one interception coming in the Arizona State end zone.
Key to an Oregon win
Cal’s limited offense is going to have a tough time scoring on Oregon’s stout defense. So, my key to the game is for the Ducks to…
Run the ball successfully
According to offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, Oregon’s offensive line and running backs to watched film together during the bye week and evaluated areas of improvement. In order to be successful the Ducks must show that they are back have fixed whatever had them “out of sync,” as Mario Cristobal put it last week.
The Ducks’ rushing attack is down in all categories from last season. Through four games, Oregon is averaging 154.75 rushing yards per game (75th nationally) with five touchdowns (81st nationally).
The offensive line must demonstrate better run blocking and CJ Verdell and Travis Dye must be explosive through their reads against a challenging Bears defense.
How and where to watch
Time: Saturday, Oct. 5, 5 p.m. (PT)
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)