California opened the season with a disappointing defeat against Nevada. The Golden Bears were sluggish in the first quarter, falling behind 14-0, and the defense wasn't able to make enough stops to finish off the comeback.
The team will look to get back on track against FCS opponent Southern Utah in Week 2. The Thunderbirds are coming off a loss of their own against Utah State and shouldn't pose much of a threat to a more talented Cal squad.
Here's a look at all the vital information for Saturday's game followed by a couple things to watch for during the likely one-sided encounter.
Where: California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif.
When: Saturday, Sept. 8 at 3 p.m. ET
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Listen: KSUU 91.1 FM (Southern Utah) or KGO AM 810 (California)
Live Stream Audio: Bears All Access
Betting Line: TBA
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Southern Utah: No injuries listed
California: Stefan McClure (out, knee), Khairi Fortt (out, knee), Mustafa Jalil (out, knee) and David Wilkerson (out, ankle)
Key Storyline: Can Cal rebound quickly?
Even though the Golden Bears would have loved to start the season with a victory, they must quickly turn the page and start looking to the future. They can't let their disappointment linger with so many key games on the schedule.
Luckily, Southern Utah doesn't have enough playmakers to challenge Cal. So the team should be able to get in the win column before a couple straight games against ranked opponents. It will be a game that's more about building momentum than anything else.
Top 25 Implications
It's pretty safe to assume the Golden Bears are off the Top 25 radar following the loss to Nevada. Since they do have four games against currently ranked teams on the schedule, including two with teams in the top five, there's still a chance to make an impact down the road.
It's not something Cal should be thinking about for the foreseeable future, though. The team just has to focus on every game and, if it can pull off a couple upsets along the way, the voters will eventually take notice of the progress.
What They Are Saying
Zach Maynard was forced to start the game on the sidelines due to disciplinary action and the Cal quarterback said it had an impact on his performance, according to Yahoo! Sports.
"Anytime you come into the game a little cold and not knowing when you’re going to come into the game, it takes the rhythm away from you a little bit."
Southern Utah Player To Watch: Fatu Moala
Moala was a rare bright spot in Southern Utah's loss to Utah State in the opener. The junior wide receiver caught five passes for 68 yards, making him the most productive member of the offense with most players struggling.
He'll once again serve as the go-to option for quarterback Brad Sorensen, who isn't likely to get relief from the pressure he was under for most of the Week 1 game. The Cal defense will be looking to have a more complete performance.
Since the Thunderbirds fight to play from behind for most of the game, Moala should see a lot of targets and could actually have a pretty nice game overall.
California Player To Watch: Zach Maynard
The Golden Bears were expecting Maynard to have a major impact on the team's offense after transferring from Buffalo a couple years ago. Instead, he's been plagued by inconsistency, only showing flashes of his potential.
He can't be blamed for the opening week loss, however. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions to help lead the comeback charge, but the defense just couldn't slow down Nevada. Maynard should be in line for another good game against Southern Utah.
Road games against Ohio State and USC will be the best test to see exactly how far he's come during the offseason. As long as he can stay out of the doghouse, of course.
Key Matchup: Southern Utah Rush Defense vs. Cal Running Game
Southern Utah allowed Utah State to gain nearly 300 yards on the ground in its opener. That means the Cal offensive line should have no trouble opening up running lanes for C.J. Anderson and the rest of the Golden Bears running backs.
It's really a chance for the entire team to work out the kinks that were clearly in place against Nevada. The result shouldn't be in question by the time the second quarter begins. With a couple marquee games coming up, the Cal offense must be in top form.
Look for the Golden Bears to rotate in several different backs en route to a terrific performance on the ground and, more importantly, an easy victory.
California 56, Southern Utah 7
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