FACTS & STATS: Site: Arizona Stadium (57,400) — Tucson, Arizona.
Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Cal 1-0, Arizona 2-0. Away Record:
Cal 1-0, Arizona 1-0. Neutral Record: Cal 0-0, Arizona 0-0. Conference Record:
Cal 0-0, Arizona 0-0. Series Record: Arizona leads, 15-14-2.
GAME NOTES: Two very different but equally potent offenses will clash on
Saturday night, as the pass-happy California Golden Bears challenge the run-
oriented Arizona Wildcats in Pac-12 Conference play at Arizona Stadium.
With wins in their first two games, the Golden Bears have already shown marked
improvement in their second year under head coach Sonny Dykes. Last season,
they had just one win in 12 tries. This year began with a surprising 31-24
road win against Northwestern, which was followed by a 55-14 rout of FCS foe
Sacramento State. The Golden Bears were idle last weekend.
Arizona also has yet to experience the bitter taste of defeat this season,
with three wins in its first three games. The Wildcats started the year off by
blasting UNLV, 58-13, but wins against Texas-San Antonio (26-23) and Nevada
(35-28) proved to be a bit trickier.
This is the conference opener for both teams. Arizona pulled out a 33-28
victory last season behind three rushing touchdowns from B.J. Denker. The
Wildcats have won four of the last six meetings, and lead the all-time series,
California’s struggles last season were not due to a lack of offensive
firepower. Now it seems the squad has figured out, at least partially, how to
turn big offensive numbers into wins. The Golden Bears are averaging 43 points
and 497.5 yards per game.
Jared Goff holds the keys to the air-raid style offensive scheme. The
sophomore quarterback has thrown for only 510 yards in the first two games,
but he also has seven touchdown passes against a single interception, while
completing 67.9 percent of his attempts.
There is no one dominant receiver for the unit, with Goff spreading the ball
around. Kenny Lawler (eight receptions, 72 yards, three TDs) leads the way in
receptions and touchdowns. Trevor Davis (six receptions, 161 yards, TD) and
Darius Power (seven receptions, 156 yards, TD) are the only players to have
more than 100 receiving yards. They have each started the first two games.
Due in part to the bloated score against Sacramento State necessitating a run-
the-clock approach, the Golden Bears have actually run the ball a fair amount
this season. They have 369 yards and three touchdowns on 93 carries. Daniel
Lasco has 116 of those yards, the most on the roster.
Last season, the Golden Bears were atrocious on defense but they’ve shown some
improvement here in 2014. They have surrendered a total of 38 points and 655
yards in the first two weeks. They also have gained 86 first downs, while
allowing only 38.
Jalen Jefferson (17 tackles, 1.0 sacks, INT) and Griffin Piatt (nine tackles,
two INTs) have been the most effective playmakers for the unit.
Despite how strong they have been in the first two weeks, the Golden Bears
have a tough task ahead of them against Arizona. The Wildcats are one of the
top offensive teams in the country, ranking eighth in total offense (582.7
ypg) while scoring 39.7 ppg.
The offensive success has continued even with the loss of Terris Jones-
Grigsby, who is listed as questionable for this contest due to an ankle
injury. Jones-Grigsby had 124 yards on 13 carries in the opener but has missed
the last two games. Nick Wilson (449 yards, four TDs) has been a capable
stand-in and will continue to get the bulk of the carries.
Anu Solomon has taken to the starting quarterback role with aplomb. The red-
shirt freshman has racked up 934 yards and eight touchdowns on 62.7 percent
passing, while being intercepted only once. He also has accumulated 121 yards
on the ground.
On the outside, Cayleb Jones (16 receptions, 289 yards, three TDs), Samajie
Grant (14 receptions, 205 yards, TD) and Austin Hill (seven receptions, 136
yards, TD) give Solomon plenty of options to choose from.
Just like California, defense is not a real strong suit for Arizona. However,
the Wildcats have been pretty strong this season. They have let up just 21.3
points and 383 yards per game. They rank fifth in the Pac-12 in total defense
and seventh in points allowed.
Scooby Wright (33 tackles, 2.0 sacks) anchors the squad at linebacker, leading
the way in tackles and sacks. He is second in the Pac-12 in the former
category. Jared Tevis (13 tackles, INT) also has reached the 30-tackle mark.
This should be a highly entertaining offensive shootout between two of the
more intriguing teams in the Pac-12. The Wildcats only narrowly took down the
Golden Bears last season when Ka’Deem Carey was still around, and the opponent
was still stumbling through a transition year. Cal will present a tougher
challenge this time around, but Arizona should ultimately come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 38, California 35