A week after downing the No. 3-ranked Oregon Ducks, Stanford fell to an explosive USC squad. With two conference losses, the Cardinal no longer controls its own destiny in the Pac-12, but will look to bounce back in a huge rivalry game against Cal.
Last week, quarterback Kevin Hogan had an extremely hard time moving the ball downfield, throwing for only 127 yards and two interceptions. The Golden Bears, however, are currently ranked dead last in the nation in pass defense, allowing 334 yards per game through the air.
This matchup will be huge for Hogan, who doubtless needs his confidence restored after his tough game against the Trojans. As usual, he will have plenty of help on the outside from talented wide receivers Ty Montgomery and Devin Cajuste.
Tyler Gaffney will likely remain the workhorse on offense, though. The talented back has tallied 69 carries in his last two games, racking up more than 150 yards in each matchup. This week, Gaffney will join Hogan in hopes of taking advantage of a depleted Cal defense.
The defense has a favorable matchup as well. Shayne Skov leads a front seven that currently sits at No. 4 in the nation in rushing defense and has a combined 32 sacks. Cal’s offense will have a hard time moving against an angry Cardinal defense, especially if the passing game gets off to a slow start.
This will likely be one of the most uneven Big Game matchups in recent memory. Though Stanford has recorded those two conference losses, it remains one of the best teams in the nation. Cal, on the other hand, currently sits in the conference cellar, hoping for a big win.
While anything can happen in a big college football rivalry game, Stanford should have this game well in hand should it take advantage of all of its favorable matchups.