OK, by now Sonny Dykes' Golden Bears are done messing around with shrimps and barbies down under in Australia, and have had plenty of time of time to recover from the 17-hour time difference back in Berkeley.
According to Campus Insiders Dykes cited during last week's Pac-12 teleconference that his coaches needed a few more days to get back into the swing of things with their regular schedule. It does beg the question: have the Golden Bears gone soft?
San Diego State started its 2016 campaign in this hemisphere, handily beating New Hampshire, 31-0. The Aztecs held the Wildcats to 141 yards and put up 461 yards when they did have the ball. While the match was not exactly an equal pairing, the Aztecs shut the Wildcats out- not permitting even a single field goal.
The Golden Bears are in a different situation this year than last year. Jared Goff is gone, and graduate transfer Davis Webb is leading the offense. Webb threw aggressively against the Rainbow Warriors, completing 38-of-54 passes for 441 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for a score, too.
On top of it all, if your girlfriend is missing, it's because Cal QB Davis Webb took her.
Dykes was allegedly disappointed in his team's defense against Hawaii's ground game. Nick Rolovich's offense ran for 248 yards and three touchdowns on the Golden Bears, so Cal will have this in mind during the matchup with San Diego State.
About San Diego State
The Aztecs posted 170 rushing yards on New Hampshire, but their offense leaned more toward the air. San Diego State quarterback Christian Chapman completed 16-of-25 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday. One of those scores was an 86-yard blast to Mikah Holder, who finished with four catches for 160 yards and scored a 14-yard touchdown from Chapman before halftime.
If the Aztecs do decide to go after Cal's run defense, the ball will be put in the hands of resident Heisman contender Donnel Pumphrey. The senior running back picked up 98 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries against the Wildcats. During the game he managed to surpass Bo Jackson as he went from No. 74 to No. 64 in all time NCAA rushing.
Offense: Chapman has a quick, accurate release, and he's mobile, too. Webb unloaded on Hawaii, but the Rainbow Warriors are not the Aztecs. Chapman's versatility combined with the agility and experience of Pumphrey and Holder give the edge to San Diego State.
Defense: The Aztecs also have the upper hand here. Upperclassmen line their defense, and Cal failed to impress with its front seven.
Special Teams: Khalfani Muhammad is a threat to take it to the house, and that normally gives the advantage to Cal, but San Diego State happens to have the Mountain West special teams player of the year in Rashad Penny.
Coaching: Sonny Dykes and Rocky Long are both experienced. Long led the Aztecs to a Mountain West title last year, but experts lean to Cal because of Dykes' assistants- specifically, OC Jake Spavital. He coached under Kevin Sumlin at Houston and with Texas A&M, and he's an up-and-comer in college ball. Nonetheless, Long plays a particular brand of football, and he has led the Aztecs to 11 straight wins through decisive leadership. And let's face it, the experts rarely stay up to watch West Coast football outside of the P5.
Watch for This
Campus Insiders says, “Watch for San Diego State's running backs vs. Cal's front seven. Pumphrey is the go-to tailback, and he'll certainly get more than 20 carries against Cal on Saturday. But it'll be interesting to see how the Aztecs work Rashaad Penny into the mix. The game plan should be a little more run-focused against the Golden Bears, until Chapman deploys his air assault. With Chapman making plays with his arm and legs, it'll be important for San Diego State to really disrupt the Cal front seven.”
Cal vs. San Diego State Odds
Spread: San Diego State -7.5
Cal vs. San Diego State Prediction
Webb is going to be given free range early on, and he's going to try to go all out. San Diego State will do a solid job of keeping the Golden Bears out of the end zone. So watch for a lot of field goal attempts, and that's going to hurt Cal.
On the other end, the Aztecs are going to start off jamming the ball right down the Golden Bears' throat. As soon as they start to load the box, Chapman will have many options to score- including reaching the end zone himself. After some competitive play, the Aztecs move forward and secure the win.
Campus Insiders Prediction: San Diego State 36, Cal 27