FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (73,347) — Berkeley, California.
Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: BYU 4-2, California 2-4. Away Record:
BYU 3-2, California 3-2. Neutral Record: BYU 0-0, California 0-0. Conference
Record: BYU 0-0, California 3-6. Series Record: BYU leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: Needing a win in the final game of the 2014 season in order to
become bowl eligible, the California Golden Bears close out the campaign by
hosting the BYU Cougars on Saturday afternoon.
Despite losing their quarterback just a few weeks into the season, the Cougars
have fought hard to make themselves bowl eligible with seven wins in 11
opportunities. The squad has rattled off three wins in a row after losing
three straight, the most recent victory being a lopsided 64-0 triumph over
Savannah State last weekend.
BYU scored 51 points in the first half versus Savannah State, the most since
it delivered 54 versus Western State back in 1951, while the shutout victory
was the largest since a 65-0 romp over New Mexico in 1988.
As for the Golden Bears, they started out the campaign well enough with four
wins in five tries, but since then have fallen on hard times with just a
single victory in six opportunities. Last weekend, the squad was thumped by
Stanford at home by a score of 38-17.
The Cougars have won two of the previous three meetings between the teams,
although California was victorious in the most recent clash, a 35-28 final in
the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl.
For BYU, the outing against Savannah State was an ugly one, as the visitors
generated a meager 63 yards of offense and the Cougars ran all over them
because the defense was so overwhelmed. Quarterback Christian Stewart threw
for 196 yards and four touchdowns, adding a pair on the ground before heading
to the bench.
Mitch Mathews registered 110 yards and two TDs on four receptions, while Nate
Carter carried the load on the ground with his game-high 116 yards and a score
on 20 attempts.
Defensively, the Cougars notched two sacks and only five tackles for loss, but
still the message was clear that the hosts would not be allowing much movement
and that was not something new for BYU when you consider the team ranks 13th
in the nation in rushing yards allowed (112.5 ypg).
Through the air, the Cougars have been a bit more liberal with 255.2 ypg
allowed, but still the unit checks in this week as the 44th-best defense in
the FBS with 367.6 ypg surrendered.
Standing in for Taysom Hill, Stewart has thrived to the point where he has
thrown 17 TDs and just five INTs and has also stepped up with another four
scores on the ground. Further down the field making an impact is Mathews with
63 catches for 801 yards and eight scores, all of which lead the BYU receiving
Meanwhile, Cal came up with 410 yards of offense against Stanford, just eight
fewer than the Cardinal, yet the Bears were still crushed at home last week.
Quarterback Jared Goff and Luke Rubenzer combined to hit 21-of-40 passes for
231 yards and a touchdown, but each of them was picked off twice and sacked
once in the disappointing effort. Daniel Lasco tried to make an impact with a
game-high 103 yards and a score on 18 carries but it was not nearly enough to
keep California out of the loss column yet again.
Outside of an interception by Darius White and a single tackle for loss
courtesy of Devante Downs, there was little notable effort put forth by the
Through 11 games, of which he started all but one, Michael Barton is the
leading tackler for the Bears with 75 stops, his 6.5 TFL also tops on the
list. When it came to coverage further down the field, safety Griffin Piatt
was the best ball hawk the Cal defense had with his three interceptions, but
he appeared in just six games before a knee injury put him on the shelf for
the remainder of the campaign.
Goff has been fantastic at quarterback for the Bears, outside of last week’s
effort, having tossed 31 TDs and just six picks as he converted 61.8 percent
of his attempts, leading to 325.5 ypg for a unit that ranks fifth in the
country in passing offense with 341.7 ypg.
The beauty of the California offense is that there are so many weapons
available, particularly at receiver with five players having caught at least
30 passes and nine different players who have registered at least one
receiving touchdown heading into the season finale.
The Cougars need to step up their game this week against a desperate
California group that needs to win at all costs. With the hometown crowd
behind them and a strong passing attack in front of them, the Golden Bears
should be able to pull this one off.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 31, BYU 28