The California Golden Bears (1-3) will return home this weekend to host Pac-12 foe Arizona State (3-1) in Berkeley.
Cal is coming off of two consecutive road losses to Top 25 squads USC and Ohio State, and is in desperate need of some home cooking in order to get back on track.
Meanwhile, the Sun Devils enter this weekend with a ton of confidence after earning a 30-point win over Utah in their Pac-12 opener last weekend in Tempe.
Here is everything you need to know to get set for Saturday's Pac-12 clash in Berkeley.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.
When: Saturday, September 29 at 4 p.m. ET
Listen: KTAR 620 AM (Tempe), KGO 810 AM (San Francisco)
Live Streaming: Pac-12.com
Betting Line: California (-2), according to Covers.com
Will Cal continue its dominance over Arizona State? The Golden Bears have won two straight over the Sun Devils at home and four straight against them overall. The last time Arizona State knocked off Cal was at home in 2007. Despite their struggles this season, the Golden Bears are actually favorites in this game. Can the Sun Devils finally end their skid in 2012?
Who May Not Play for Arizona State
*According to USA Today
S Villiami Moeakiola (Hamstring), questionable for Saturday
TE Max Smith (Back), questionable for Saturday
DT Corey Adams (Back), questionable for Saturday
CB Rashad Wadood (Shoulder), out for season
LB Carlos Mendoza (Shoulder), out for season
Who May Not Play for California
*According to USA Today
TE Spencer Hagan (Knee), questionable for Saturday
OL Matt Summers-Gavin (Knee), questionable for Saturday
LB Khairi Fortt (Knee), questionable for Saturday
LB David Wilkerson (Ankle), out for season
LB Cecil Whiteside (Academics), out for season
LB Jason Gibson (Foot), out until mid November
OL Mark Brazinski (Knee), out indefinitely
OL Dominic Galas (Pectoral), out indefinitely
DB Stefan McClure (Knee), out indefinitely
Although neither team is ranked in the Top 25 in Week 5, Arizona State is receiving votes and would give itself a real shot at elevating into the AP Top 25 with a road win over Cal on Saturday. At 4-1, the Sun Devils would boast a 2-0 conference record heading into a bye week. For the Golden Bears, it's going to take a stretch of wins to get them back among the nation's top teams.
What They're Saying
Arizona State wide receiver Rashad Ross has total faith in sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly, who had completed just four passes for the Sun Devils coming into this season (via The Arizona Republic's Paola Boivin):
He always had that (talent) in him, I knew Taylor as a third-string quarterback, and he was always a competitor. He can play, but what he did was make the best out of his opportunities. We trust him. We give him 100 percent support.
Kelly has thrived under center for the Sun Devils in 2012 and is poised for a big game against Cal on Saturday.
Cal senior quarterback Zach Maynard reminded the Golden Bears to hold themselves accountable for the rest of the season after losing on the road at USC last weekend (via The Daily Californian's Jonathan Kuperberg):
"I told the boys today, ‘We can’t lose anymore, it lays in our hands. It’s on us.'"
Cal has little room for error now at 1-3. It can ill-afford to drop another home game and fall to 0-2 in conference play this weekend.
Arizona State Player to Watch
Junior tight end Chris Coyle is the Sun Devils' leading receiver in 2012, and has twice as many receptions as any other player on the team through four games. The 6'3" target has 301 yards and two touchdowns on 22 catches this fall, and will no doubt add to that total on Saturday.
Coyle has recorded a catch of at least 24 yards or more in every game so far this season. Keep a close eye on No. 87 in Berkeley this weekend.
California Player to Watch
Cal superstar Keenan Allen is always a fun player to watch for the Golden Bears. The junior wide receiver has 309 yards receiving and two touchdowns thus far this season, one of which came on the ground.
The 6'3" game-breaker has phenomenal chemistry with quarterback Zach Maynard, and for good reason. Maynard is Allen's half-brother and the two together form one of college football's most stellar QB-WR duos.
The top matchup to watch for in Saturday's game will be the Arizona State passing attack versus the Cal secondary. The Sun Devils' aerial assault is led by quarterback Taylor Kelly, who has completed more than 72 percent of his passes for 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.
Arizona State's passing attack ranks 31st nationally, averaging more than 280 yards through the air per week. In Cal's three losses it has surrendered well over 200 passing yards on average and could very well let the Golden Bears down this weekend.
On the Hot Seat
Although Jeff Tedford led Cal to a Holiday Bowl appearance last winter, his Golden Bears have not won a bowl game since 2008, and will be 1-4 through September if they lose to Arizona State this weekend. That's a poor enough start to light a fire under Tedford's coaching seat.
Tedford has just one losing season in 10 years as head coach in Berkeley, but if Cal doesn't beat Arizona State, he will more than likely be on his way to his second in 11 years.
Despite the fact that Cal is the slight favorite and has won four consecutive games against Arizona State overall, I like the Sun Devils to get a hard-fought road win on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley. Todd Graham's squad boasts a Top 15 scoring offense and defense this season, and I believe that will be more than enough to lead Arizona State to its first road win of the season this weekend.
Arizona State 31, California 21
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