Is Cal Ready to Lead Pac 12 and Become a True NCAAF Betting Contender?
The California Golden Bears traveled to Utah this past weekend – the same Utah that thrashed Oregon the week before. The Golden Bears took a 5-0 record into that game, just like the Utes, and what happened was one of the most exciting games so far in Pac-12 play. Let’s take a look at this matchup between two surprising contenders in a conference long dominated by Oregon and the Los Angeles schools.
Utah and Cal doing their best to ignore the spotlight http://t.co/6VIH125PZh
— ESPN Pac-12 (@ESPN_Pac12blog) October 7, 2015
California got off to a decent start, although what was a strong opening drive ended with a pass deflecting off Kenny Lawler’s face mask and ending up as a hard-luck interception by Utah’s Marcus Williams. The Cal defense was solid against Utah, though, forcing them to punt the ball away. Cal fumbled the ball on the very next play, but the Bears held firm even though the Utes took over on the Cal 18-yard line, limiting Utah to a field goal.
The next drive saw Cal get on a run. Khalfani Muhammad galloped for a 21-yard run, and Jared Goff threw a terrific pass to a diving Trevor Davis for a touchdown. However, Utah would come right back, with Devontae Booker scampering for a 40-yard score. Cal missed a ton of tackles on this play, but Booker is an NFL-caliber back, so some of those are understandable. Then Cal had another interception, as Kenny Lawler missed another pass. Even so, Cal was only down 10-7 after a quarter.
The second quarter was Utah’s turn to look bad. The Utes had to try for a field goal and missed a 48-yard attempt. Cal had a nice drive stalled by an offensive pass interference penalty, forcing a punt. The Bears picked off a pass, and Lawler made two more terrible plays on balls – just dropping them this time instead of caroming them in the air to a Utah defender. So Cal had to settle for a chip-shot field goal, tying the game at 10.
Then things got weird. Utah threw an interception to Devante Downs. However, Cal through the ball right back, and then Utah threw a bomb to Cory Butler-Byrd covering 54 yards. It was the play action that caught the Bears napping. Then Cal had another deflection that turned into an interception. The Utes would score again, but Cal would drive to score before halftime, so the score was 24-17 Utah at the intermission.
The game tightened up in the second half, with the defenses forcing punt after punt. Cal would throw a fifth interception, but that didn’t keep them from getting in range of a last-minute touchdown. Cal’s offensive line had their problems protecting their quarterback in the second half, but the Golden Bears kept rallying. Utah didn’t look their best, but a lot of their mistakes were forced by the Golden Bears’ tough play. Cal is far from done in the Pac-12, and USC and UCLA could still be in real trouble from these two schools.