California (3-3) vs Oregon (2-4)
Friday, October 21st // Berkley, CA // 7:30pm PST // ESPN
Why Oregon could BEAT Cal
You know how awful our run defense is? Cal’s is even worse. I didn’t think this was possible, but Cal gave up nearly 500 yards rushing to Oregon State. A lot of my beliefs have been shattered this season, but I still believe that we can run the football. If Royce Freeman and company are able to gash Cal on the ground don’t be surprised to see the passing game open up for Justin Herbert. Or Dakota Prukop.. Our defense is facing a hobbled Davis Webb, and if he can’t get going with a hot start the Ducks can find some much needed confidence and cruise to a win
Run the ball, and run it well. This is an opponent the offense could “get healthy against”. I think Oregon will be committed to getting Justin Herbert started early so I hope this won’t negate an aggressive approach to running the ball. The Ducks defensive secondary will have to play well and make big plays. I feel the young players are looking to step up and fill an on-field leadership void, and if they start to assert themselves this could be the life this season needs.
Man. I feel like a broken record typing this. But the Ducks have something to prove, especially coming off the bye week. Everyone has been questioning the players (and coaches) headspace, asking if they enjoy losing games. Asking if they even care anymore. Depending on which #hottakes you read on Twitter.com, they either don’t care about wins/losses or they are aggravated and annoyed at losing. Either way, the bye week and lack of a game to complain about only fanned the flames of the fanbase. It gave them (us) a week to think about our lives and evaluate if we want to continue to watch this house burn to the ground or turn away and take up a new hobby.
The players come out hot and angry. They have a season to salvage! Special teams makes an impact early. Herbert has had two weeks to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Royce is ready to run. Defense struggles a bit, but they get the job done.
Oregon can beat Cal because the coaching staff gets the flu and none make the trip to the Bay. Cal’s defense is terrible against the run. While Oregon has issues, the run game has not been one of them. A healthy Royce and crew can hash Cal’s defense and keep their offense off the field, giving Oregon’s defense less opportunity to get eaten alive by the Air Raid offense.
There is a chance that the week off has given Helf and the boy’s time to gel after the the Autzen disaster against UW. Sometimes butt whippings like that can really help a team hit the reset.
1) Justin Herbert – I think the kid has it in him to win the game and bring us back for the season. He is listed as 1 on the depth chart so hopefully he starts.
2) Getting the ball to Royce will be key and having TBJ as dual threat at Running Back.
3) Troy Dye and Schooler can make things happen on defense and if Arrion can have a strong game and get a turn over or two that would help if Oregon can capitalize on it.
4) If the positive ducks – whoever they may be and the negative ducks – whoever they may be – decide to put aside whatever is causing this disaster and remember they are competitive athletes and decide not to lose another game and play with heart and as a team – then that makes all the difference.
You know that really annoying thing Oregon does where they can’t stop the run? Like, at all? Yeah, Cal is somehow worse. The Bears give up 283 yards rushing per game, which ranks them 127th out of 128 teams nationwide (Oregon is 122nd). And while the Oregon offense hasn’t exactly been the soul-crushing monster we’ve come to know and love, they still lead the Pac-12 in rushing at 257 yards per game. Oregon’s running backs are the best unit on either team, and the Ducks would be wise to use them damn near constantly. Oregon State had more than 550 yards of total offense vs. Cal two weeks ago, and only 85 through the air. That’s right, the Beavs had almost twice as many yards rushing vs. Cal as they did vs. Idaho freaking State.
Look, I know the Ducks are still going to try to use tempo when they have the ball. But still, if they hand it off 50-55 times tonight they’ll up their time of possession and that can only help their chances, since their defense is Roger Dorn-esque.
Speaking of Oregon’s defense, I have zero reason to hope they keep Cal under 50, but QB Davis Webb has thrown at least one interception in four games this season, and two or more INTs in two games. So maybe Oregon’s secondary can be the proverbial blind hog and find an acorn or two.
If there is a defense that might be worse than Oregon’s, it’s Cal’s (and Rice’s…so at least we got that going for us, which is nice) One of the biggest keys will be Cal’s inability to stop on 3rd down, over 46% of the time, the opponent converts. This will have to be Royce Freeman going for 225 and 3 scores for Oregon to win. The Cal pass defense is relatively good (Top 25) given how poor their defense is overall. I don’t expect this to be the game where we tag Justin Herbert as the next Mariota. Expect him to be in the 15 for 25 range, and maybe a couple scores. If Oregon runs the ball to a near school record total yards with the best stable of running backs in the Pac-12 (please tag @LombardiESPN when you RT this), they can escape that dystopian liberal paradise that is Berkeley with a Friday night victory.
After being thoroughly embarrassed at the hands of UW, the team plays with a yet to be seen fire. Cal’s defense isn’t good, they give up an average of 40 ppg & lost to freaking OSU in OT. Make no mistake, their defense looks a hell of a lot better than ours does. Assuming Herbert (aka Jumarcus Herbiota) once again starts, he has to play a decent game. In order to win, he can’t come out with a Prukop-esque stat line, though the Prukop haters will of course find some way to spin it into a positive. The secondary has to get its s#!t together against a team averaging almost 380 ypg. Plain & simple, the time for repeating the same mistakes has long since passed.
Cal is awful against the run. Oregon has proven that they can move the ball on the ground with or without a healthy Royce Freeman. Justin Herbert showed that he has big time arm talent and can move around to extend plays. The run game, a hungry Justin Herbert, and a ton of skill position talent could be enough for Oregon to beat Cal.
Why Oregon could LOSE to Cal
Our defense is not very good. By which I mean 11 inflatable tube waving arm men might be a more effective defensive unit. That doesn’t bode well when you consider that Cal’s grad transfer QB, Davis Webb, is the nation’s third leading passer. Cal attempts 50 passes a game, and with the completion percentage we’ve been allowing that should allow Webb to complete 40 some odd passes. If the Cal offense gets rolling while ours produces three and outs then get ready for another sad day in Duckland.
Oregon hasn’t show enough on or off the field to really argue much against the fact that they will lose to Cal. The Ducks are in the position to roll up and go away for the year, the dreams of a Rose Bowl, or PAC 12 Title are long gone, and the idea of a “lesser” Bowl game might not be what “30-40% of the roster” wants. The defense has been one of the worst in all of CFB, and the Ducks offense havent been able to sustain drives… if this continues the Ducks will be steam rolled for the third straight week.
Man. I feel like a broken record typing this. Coming off the bye week, the team looks sluggish. Herbert and Royce shine, but the defensive missteps prove to be too costly. Nothing has changed. The seat gets a bit hotter for not only Helfrich, but Brady Hoke as well.
Oregon can lose because they are what we thought they were. A horrific defensive team with almost every major defensive metric in the bottom 10 in the country.
They lose because team is actually in the disarray that many suspect, with players repeatedly expressing their frustrations to the media, some players lashing out on SoMe in passive-aggressive subtweets, rumors of infighting amongst coaches, and Helf being his politician self giving media interviews but somehow still trying to maintain his self-imposed veil of silence. A silence that comes across as a disconnection from reality.
I hate to be a broken record week after week after week after week. but if this team has given up we don’t stand a chance now or the remainder of the season.
Their offense is more or less Washington State’s offense, and that ended poorly for the Ducks. Davis Webb was hurt in the Oregon State game and played terribly (2.5 yards per attempt! That’s so bad!) and the Golden Bears still put up 41 points because Oregon State, like Oregon, stinks at stopping the run. Tonight I fully expect to see the Cal offense that has scored 40+ in 5 out of 6 games. And with the current state of Oregon’s defense, that’s plenty good enough to get the win.
Cal brings the nations #4 passion offense into action. Oregon brings the nations 117th pass defense into the nation. That screams disaster. Pair that with the top QB/WR combo in the Pac-12 in Davis Webb and Chad Hansen and it could be a really long night from Hoke and Co. The other reason Oregon could lose this game is because Pharaoh Brown has bad tweets.
Oregon allows 41 ppg, Cal is averaging 42 ppg. Cal loves to throw the ball, and Davis Webb is pretty dang good at it, to the tune of 2256 yds, 22 TDs, and 7 INTs in the first 6 games of the season. Oregon’s defense, and it’s secondary in particular, have so far been a dumpster fire, splashed with jet fuel that can melt the steel beams of the Moshofsky Center. They’re what the Spanish like to call “basura caliente”.
Oregon is lost. Lost on defense and they seem to have their identity as a football program. When you lose 70-21 to a rival you have handled for the better part of a decade, it’s more than just a loss something bigger is going on behind the scene. Oregon has set defense back about 50 years. Cal should have no problem moving the ball. Through the air or on the ground, they will score all day long against a defense that has no pulse.
Oregon wins, 49-41. I’ve made four predictions for Oregon wins, and they’ve lost all four. If my picks are a jinx and I’m the reason we’re losing then I sincerely apologize. but I can’t stop predicting Oregon wins.
Oregon loses, 48-38. (Possible reverse jinx in effect here.)
Oregon wins (because please God, let them win) in an ugly Friday night thriller, 42-41.
I think Oregon loses. 54-38
Two good offenses vs. two bad defenses comes down to which defense gets the big turnover and/or which offense makes the first mistake. Cal has the senior QB and is playing at home, so I guess I trust them slightly more than Oregon’s freshman QB on the road. Bears win 52-45.
I think Oregon stops the bleeding a bit this week, in a way. At this point, this isn’t a game Oregon should win, but I think they find a way behind Royce, TBJ, and Griffin. Oregon 55-Cal 42
Nothing leading up to this point of the season shows that Oregon is able to turn the corner & get back to its winning ways. Every week since Nebraska has been measurably worse. I feel as though I’m Swoosh Vader, internally torn between the team I love, crying out to me as Luke Skywalker did at the hands of The Emperor (“Father please!”), yearning for me to choose it over the path of the Negaduck to which I have seemingly chosen. Against my better judgment, I’ll take my Ducks this week. Oregon wins a shootout. Oregon 51, Cal 47.
Cal 52, Ore 49. 5th straight loss for Oregon. You can’t fix the systemic problems in that locker room with team meeting after team meeting. Those problems are leaking into practice, into game prep, and ultimately the product we have seen thus far this season. We will continue to see the same issues on Friday. Cal ends up out scoring Oregon in a shootout.