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Washington State (3-5) at California (4-4)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 5th, 6:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: AT&T Park (41,915) -- San Francisco, California. Television: ROOT (NW), CSN-CA. Home Record: Washington State 2-2, Cal 2-1. Away Record: Washington State 1-3, Cal 1-3. Neutral Record: Washington State 0-0, Cal 1-0. Conference Record: Washington State 1-4, Cal 1-4. Series Record: Cal leads, 42-25-5.

GAME NOTES: The Washington State Cougars venture south to San Francisco for a Pac-12 meeting with the California Golden Bears, who have lost four of their last five games.

Following its 43-28 loss at Oregon last weekend, Washington State has now lost four straight games. That leaves the Cougars' bowl hopes in serious jeopardy with four league games remaining, including Arizona State and Washington. The Cougars played well for stretches against the Ducks, but are still trying to find continuity on both sides of the ball.

California is licking its wounds after a 31-14 loss to UCLA, which was defined by five Golden Bears' turnovers. With the exception of a win over Utah, Cal has now lost to Washington, Oregon, USC and UCLA in conference play, and need two wins in the last four games to secure bowl eligibility. The next two games are manageable with the Cougars coming in this weekend and Oregon State visiting next weekend, but Cal must travel to Stanford and Arizona State to close out the 2011 campaign.

Cal leads the all-time series with Washington State, 42-25-5.

Marshall Lobbestael led Washington State at quarterback last weekend, completing 28-of-48 passes for 337 yards and one touchdown, but also threw two costly interceptions. Washington State won the time of possession battle by over 20 minutes and trailed just 15-10 at halftime, but Oregon's huge surge in the third quarter ended any upset ideas the Cougars had in Eugene.

Lobbestael and Jeff Tuel have been interchangeable since Tuel returned to the lineup last month, although Tuel didn't play against the Ducks. Lobbestael is 34th in the country in passing efficiency (145.2), and Washington State averages316.1 yards passing per game, which is good for second in the Pac-12. Marquess Wilson averages 6.5 catches and 111.1 yards per game, which is third in the league. Wilson had 11 catches for 126 yards against Oregon, while receiver Jared Karstetter caught seven passes for 114 yards. The Cougars post 437.1 yards and 33.2 points per game.

The Cougars' defense had no answer for the Oregon offense last weekend, especially in the second half. The explosive Ducks hung over 450 yards of total offense on Washington State, with Darron Thomas and Bryan Bennett combining to throw for 241 yards and three scores, while the Oregon rushing attack went off for 213 makers. It could have been much worse for Washington State, which is giving up 412.2 yards per game, and are 112th in passing efficiency defense and 100th in passing defense overall (261.5). The Cougars have struggled to get consistent pressure (1.5 sacks per game, 5.1 tackles for loss) but do have 13 takeaways this season (the Cougars intercepted Thomas twice last week.) Alex Hoffman-Ellis ranks sixth in the Pac-12 with 57 tackles, and leads the team with eight tackles for loss.

Turnovers doomed Cal from the start last weekend against UCLA. Quarterback Zach Maynard threw fro 199 yards, but his four interceptions killed momentum and kept Cal out of much of the contest. Maynard is 12th in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency (121.3), and overall has thrown for 2,039 yards with 12 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He has one of the Pac-12's best receivers at his disposal in Keenan Allen, who is seventh in the country in receptions per game (8.3) and sixth in receiving yards (123.2). Allen had seven catches for 83 yards last week against UCLA.

Isi Sofele ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in rushing at the moment, gaining 87.6 yards per game. Overall, California averages 135.7 yards per game on the ground. Sofele posted 74 yards and a touchdown last weekend on 15 carries. It marked the third consecutive game in which he failed to rush for over 100 yards.

Cal's defense had its back to the wall last weekend thanks to its own offense's turnovers. The Bears kept Kevin Prince and the UCLA passing game quiet, but allowed Prince to run all over the yard, as the quarterback gained a rare 163 yards on 19 carries. Cal gave up 294 yards rushing on the afternoon, which was uncharacteristic considering the Golden Bears are only giving up 137.8 yards rushing per game. Cal is surrendering 337.1 yards per game, which is good for third in the league, and the unit ranks first in the Pac-12 in pass defense (199.2), which can be correlated to the amount of pressure the Golden Bears turn on. Cal is 18th in the country in sacks per game (2.7) and tenth in tackles for loss (7.8). David Wilkerson, Earnest Owusu and Trevor Guyton have all posted 3.5 sacks this season, while Owusu leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss.

For all the talent in the Washington State passing game, the Cougars are still in need of stability on offense; the defense simply gives up too many yards in the passing game. Cal will bring a balanced attack on offense, and expect an up-tempo defensive performance against the Cougars' pass happy offense. The Golden Bears certainly have the players in the front seven of the defense to do it.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 38, Washington State 21

11/02 10:44:11 ET