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Three things to watch as Washington State visits Cal

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SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 25: Washington State defensive backs Daniel Isom (3) and Jaylen Watson (0) walk back to the huddle during the second half of a PAC 12 conference matchup between the Utah Utes and the Washington State Cougars on September 25, 2021, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT. Jack Ellis/CougCenter

Good morning Coug fans. Our Washington State Cougars are in Berkeley today to pay a visit to the California Golden Bears. We’re all accustomed to weird things happening when these two teams get together, so perhaps we’re in for a doozy today.

Both teams desperately need to get their seasons back on track. Both teams sit at 1-3, but they each got there in different ways. Cal’s three losses have all been by one score. The Bears lost to Nevada by five, TCU by two, and UW by seven in overtime. WSU’s losses.....have not been that close.

The season is essentially kaput for whoever loses today. WSU’s schedule the rest of they way is brutal, and Cal’s isn’t that much easier.

If you’re like me, you’re probably assuming the Cal defense will give WSU fits all day, as that’s been the case in recent years. But we might assume wrong! The Cal defense isn’t what it used to be and comes in at just 97th nationally in total defense, per cfbstats.com. So there’s a glimmer of hope, fellow Coug fans, especially if WSU gets some key offensive personnel back. Speaking of which....

Three Things to Watch

  1. Max Borghi and Jayden de Laura: Specifically, their health. Having both Borghi and de Laura fully healthy is extremely important to keep the season from falling off a cliff. Nick Rolovich shared encouraging news this week regarding their availability, so let’s hope their respective injuries are healed enough for them to have an impact on the game. We’ve seen this offense with and without de Laura, and it’s preferred that de Laura is under center, to put it mildly.
  2. The fourth quarter: Both teams can’t seem to put games away, and we all saw how the fourth quarter went for WSU last week. If WSU is up, or has a shot to take the lead, how will it respond? Will the offense press things and get itself into trouble, a la the late pick six last week? Or will it keep its head and secure or take the lead?
  3. The turnover margin: Utah fumbled seven times last week and WSU was only able to pounce on three of them. With two teams desperate for a win, the game could come down to who holds onto the ball. Please let it be WSU (which also turned it over three times last week).

Go Cougs.

Links

5 teams on the rise entering the 21-22 season - College Hoops Today
Kyle Smith returns four of his top six scorers — Noah Williams, DJ Rodman, Dishon Jackson, Efe Abogidi — from a 14-13 team that lost five games last season by five points or less.

The pick: Why Cal will beat Washington State | The Spokesman-Review
BERKELEY, California – Washington State and Cal seemed to have swapped the traits that usually define them.

Two-minute drill: Keys to victory for Washington State against Cal | The Spokesman-Review
Don’t take your eyes off …

First FBS win on the line for struggling Washington State, Cal teams | The Spokesman-Review
BERKELEY, California – Nick Rolovich was asked earlier this week to detail his keys for Saturday’s game at Cal, and the Washington State football coach first offered some hard numbers that need improving.

College football Week 5 -- Kiffin-Saban memories, a true Texas rivalry and more
Alabama hosts Ole Miss, SMU continues to troll TCU and the games you need to watch in Week 5.

College football schedule, games 2021: What to watch in Week 5, TV channels, Saturday kickoff times - CBSSports.com
Two massive SEC games plus a playoff-shaping game in South Bend headline Week 5