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Cal Tries To Clinch Bowl Eligibility Against Washington

Washington (4-6) at California (5-6)

Sports Network | November 24, 2010


FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (75,028) -- Berkeley, California. Television: CSN-CA. Home Record: Washington 3-3, Cal 4-2. Away Record: Washington 1-3, Cal 1-4. Neutral Record: Washington 0-0, Cal 0-0. Conference Record: Washington 3-4, Cal 3-5. Series Record: Washington leads, 47-38-4.

GAME NOTES: The California Golden Bears look to close the doors of Memorial Stadium with a win, as they host Pac-10 rival Washington in their final bout of the regular season.

Memorial Stadium will undergo renovations following the season, and Cal will make San Francisco's AT&T Park it's temporary home in 2011 before returning to campus for the 2012 campaign. The stakes are high for the Golden Bears, who are also eyeing up their sixth win of the season to become bowl eligible. They are coming off last weekend's 48-14 setback to Stanford, the Bears' third loss in their last four games.

The Huskies have two games remaining on their schedule, both on the road. They, too would become bowl eligible for the first time since 2002 by beating Cal and then knocking off Washington State the following week. Washington snapped a three-game slide with a 24-7 victory over UCLA last Thursday.

Washington leads the head-to-head series, 47-38-4, and the Huskies were a 42-10 winner when these two met at Washington last December.

After totaling just 30 points over their previous three games, the Huskies made some strides offensively against UCLA. Sophomore running back Chris Polk was the catalyst, setting career highs with 138 yards on 26 carries to go along with a touchdown, while freshman Jesse Callier added another 107 yards on the ground. It marked Polk's fourth 100-yard rushing game this year, and the ninth in his two-year career thus far. With the running game operating so effectively, quarterback Jake Locker's quiet day (10-of-21, 68 yds, INT) was easily overlooked. Locker entered his senior season widely touted as a surefire first-round talent in the 2011 NFL Draft, but he has completed only 55.4 percent of his passes while averaging a rather pedestrian 194 passing yards per tilt as he has battled through a broken rib. His seven interceptions account for the bulk of the team's 12 turnovers, which is tied for sixth- fewest in the nation. The Huskies are also tied for third in the nation in red-zone offense, with 25 scores in 27 trips.

Washington's defense is guided by senior linebacker Mason Foster, the Pac-10's leading tackler by a wide margin with 12.8 stops per game. Foster also ranks second nationally in tackles, and he was the Pac-10's leader in that category in 2008. He currently leads the nation in solo stops with 8.6 per game. In fact, Washington boasts three of the top four tacklers in the conference as senior safety Nate Williams is second with 9.0 per game and junior linebacker Cort Dennison is fourth with 8.1. Senior linebacker Victor Aiyewa leads the Pac-10 and ranks fifth nationally in tackles for loss with 1.70 per game. After allowing 40-plus points in each of their previous three games, the Huskies stepped up defensively last Thursday by holding UCLA to only one touchdown, which came in the first quarter. They limited the Bruins to a mere 10 first downs and 163 yards of total offense for the game. Quinton Richardson broke the game open with an interception return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

Since piling up 50 points in a win over Arizona State on October 23rd, the Golden Bears have averaged just 13.5 points over their last four games. Quarterback Brock Mansion fumbled the first snap from center and two of his first three snaps against Stanford, and the game quickly spiraled out of control from there. Mansion was intercepted on the second drive to set up another Stanford score. He finished the game 19-of-37 for just 173 yards, and he tossed two interceptions and also lost a fumble. It was a 45-0 game in the fourth quarter before Cal notched its first score. Shane Vereen has gone over 1,000 rushing yards for the season to go along with 16 total touchdowns, but he was held to just 63 yards last week. Of course, the Golden Bears were forced to alter their gameplan after Stanford jumped out to such a big early lead. But with Mansion having thrown one touchdown and four interceptions since taking over for injured starter Kevin Riley three weeks ago, look for Cal to shift its focus back to the running game.

Cal's defense gave up points on each of Stanford's first eight drives before many of the Cardinal starters were given the rest of the afternoon off. Playing at home with bowl eligibility on the line in one of the program's most storied rivalries, it was an epic letdown by the defense. In fact, it was Cal's most lopsided loss to Stanford in 80 years. Considering his team entered that game as the Pac-10's top-ranked defense, Golden Bears' head coach Jeff Tedford was understandably agitated in his post-game remarks. After all, a week earlier Cal managed to hold top-ranked Oregon to a season-low 317 yards and 15 points to nearly pull off a monumental upset. Tedford and his staff have gone back to the drawing board at practice this week to try and get the problems sorted out. Facing a Washington team that saw an offensive revival last week, the Bears certainly have their work cut out for them.

Cal is looking to extend its school-record streak of consecutive bowl games to eight, but that won't come easy against a Washington squad that is also fighting for its bowl life. An important note to keep in mind: Cal enters this game having lost back-to-back home games for the first time since 2002.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 21, California 17

Saturday, November 27th, 3:30 p.m. (et)