California (1-9) at Colorado (3-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 16, 5:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Folsom Field (53,613) -- Boulder, Colorado. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: California 1-6, Colorado 2-2. Away Record: California 0-3, Colorado 0-3. Neutral Record: California 0-0, Colorado 1-0. Conference Record: California 0-7, Colorado 0-6. Series Record: California leads, 4-2.
GAME NOTES: The only two teams in the Pac-12 to still be searching for their first conference win will square off on Saturday when the California Golden Bears pay a visit to the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field.
The miserable 2013 campaign for the Golden Bears continued last Saturday as they were routed 62-28 by the USC Trojans. Special teams' mishaps and poor defense really killed California's chance as they gave up three touchdowns on punt returns to the Trojans at home. Large deficits and big losses have been the norm for the Golden Bears this season. Entering this contest California is just 1-9 overall and winless in seven bouts against the rest of the Pac-12. California is also riding a eight-game losing streak.
Colorado is on a bit of a losing streak as well, as a 59-7 embarrassment against Washington last weekend was the third loss in a row for the Buffaloes. Though Colorado has a better overall record, as it sits at a middling 3-6, the Buffaloes have had no luck against league foes. In all the Buffaloes have had six contests against the Pac-12 and come away on the losing end in all six endeavors.
When Colorado entered the Pac-12 two years ago California was the first team it played in conference action. The result was a memorable one as Keenan Allen hauled in a five-yard touchdown pass from Zach Maynard to lift California to a 36-33 win in overtime. The victory was the fourth in six all-time meetings between the Golden Bears and the Buffaloes.
Sonny Dykes has transformed the California offense into one of the most pass- reliant units in the Pac-12. The Golden Bears rank third in the league in passing yards (342.8 ypg). However that hasn't done much for California in terms of wins or points, with the team ranked last in the league in scoring (23.9 ppg).
Freshman Jared Goff has been at the helm for the California offensive attack and despite his youth, he has fared pretty well. Goff has completed 61.5 percent of his pass attempts for 3,141 yards and 17 touchdowns, although he has been a bit mistake-prone (nine interceptions). That is to be expected for an inexperienced player, especially one that has had at least 50 pass attempts in six games this season. In the loss to USC, Goff was as solid as he has been all year, completing 35-of-49 attempts for 260 yards and three scores.
The most valuable targets for Goff have been Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper. Treggs (69 receptions, 681 yards, TD) does not have the big-play ability of some receivers but he leads the team in receptions and has been as reliable as any player on the roster. Harper (68 receptions, 842 yards, five TDs) has been much more of a threat to stretch the defense, while Kenny Lawler (28 receptions, 239 yards, five TDs) has worked his way into the rotation with all five of his touchdown catches coming in the last two weeks.
There isn't as much work for the California running game because of the reliance on throwing the ball. Khalfani Muhammad has yet to start a game this season but he has been the most productive back on the unit with 322 yards and three scores on 59 carries.
Defense has failed California this year. The Golden Bears are dead last in the Pac-12 in yards allowed (526.7 ypg). In fact, they are the only team in the league to be letting up more than 500 yards of offense per game. Khairi Fortt and Hardy Nickerson lead the team in tackles with 64 apiece, but Jalen Jefferson (3.0 sacks) leads a rather weak pass rush.
Though he did not begin the season as the starter, Sefo Liufau is now the starting quarterback for the Buffaloes and should be the rest of the season. He has certainly had issues though, completing 63.2 percent of his pass attempts for 986 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. Clearly his production needs to improve, but for now the freshman is still learning.
Helping Liufau's development has been the steady pass catching presence of Paul Richardson. Richardson has hauled in 60 receptions for 1,061 yards and nine touchdowns this year. Richardson is also within 100 yards of the single- season receiving record at Colorado. Supplementing Richardson's production is Nelson Spruce, who has brought in 37 receptions for 392 yards.
Running the ball has fallen to the tandem of Christian Powell and Michael Adkins. Powell (449 yards, two TDs) is more of the workhorse that gets carries in short-yardage situations at 3.9 yards per carry. Adkins (395 yards, five TDs) is a more dynamic and exciting running back.
Even with Richardson making plays, the Buffaloes are still last in the Pac-12 in total offense (369.0 ypg). Meanwhile, they are scoring just a bit better than California (24.2 ppg).
Although not as bad as California, Colorado is still a very weak defensive team. The Buffaloes are allowing 485.3 yards per game, while also second to last in the league in scoring defense (40.4 ppg). Freshman Addison Gillam (86 tackles) broke the single-season tackle record for a freshman last Saturday as he has been a lone bright spot on the unit.
Something has to give on Saturday as one of these teams will grab a league win. California has the more explosive offense, but if Colorado can bear down and put pressure on Goff, the Buffaloes have a chance to get the victory. Otherwise, expect California to exploit the lack of offensive punch from the Buffaloes and air it out all game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado 31, California 30
11/14 16:05:31 ET