Washington State Cougars vs. California Golden Bears
Date and Time: Friday, October 13, 2017, 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA
Opening College Football Odds: Washington State -13.5
Washington State vs. California TV Coverage: ESPN
Mike Leach teams usually get credit for their awesome offenses. Luke Falk is putting up mind-boggling numbers for sure, but it's high time we give this defense some credit.
The Cougars shut out Oregon in the second half last week and now have the No. 23 scoring defense in America at 18.5 points per game. Wazzu is No. 6 against the pass and is No. 11 nationally in total defense.
We've always known that the Cougars were a defense away from emerging as National Championship contenders, and here we are in the middle of October with Wazzu seven wins away from playing in the College Football Playoff.
You really have to feel for Cal and the start it has had to the Pac-12 season. The club will get better, but its first four games have come against USC, Oregon, Washington and now Washington State. That's a recipe for four losses in a row, even after beating North Carolina, Weber State and Ole Miss in September.
The Golden Bears were trashed by five touchdowns the last time these two teams met, and a big reason for that was their lack of a running game. They ran for just 100 yards on 30 carries.
This year's team is no different. Cal is averaging 96.8 yards per game on the ground, No. 123 in America. Patrick Laird isn't having a terrible year with 400 yards and five total touchdowns, but he has no help whatsoever on the ground.
It's really all about Washington State's defensive line this year. The Cougars have been spectacular up front, led by Hercules Mata'afa. The Samoan big man ran wild last week against Oregon's stout offensive line, and he now has 4.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss in six games this season.
Jahad Woods, Nnamdi Oguayo and Frankie Luvu all have multiple sacks on the campaign as well, and that's why this team has been one of the best in America this season.
Keep in mind that Washington State has forced 12 turnovers already this year, and with as well as its offense has the ability to play, this Cal offense can't be turning the ball over multiple times and living to tell about it.
Washington State vs. California Free Picks
Washington State is going to go from a loveable loser that was still an underdog even when it reached 5-0 against Oregon to a wild favorite on the road against Cal.
This formula feels ripe for an upset, or at least a cover by the hosts. All of the best college football sportsbooks are taking note of what Washington State is bringing to the table at the same time the Golden Bears are proving that they seemingly aren't competing against the best teams the Pac-12 has to offer.
Still, Ross Bowers and the California offense can be dangerous, too. Vic Wharton and Kanawai Noa aren't in that same sort of class as the Wazzu receivers, but they're both averaging well over 14 yards per catch and could be in for explosive games. If so, this could end up being a nail-biter right down to the wire. Friday the 13th could spell the end of the perfect season for Washington State.
College Football ATS Pick: California +13.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: California 49, Washington State 45