No. 23 Washington St seeks 8th straight win when Cal visits
Two of the most potent offenses in the Pac-12 will clash when California plays at No. 23 Washington State on Saturday night, although the teams are moving in different directions.
Washington State (7-2, 6-0 Pac-12, No. 23 CFP) is seeking its eighth consecutive win, best for the team since 1930, as it continues its surprising quest for a Pac-12 championship.
Cal (4-5, 2-4), which has lost three of its past four games, is struggling to keep its bowl hopes alive.
The Golden Bears are averaging 517 yards per game this season, while Washington State averages 502 yards. But the Cougars get into the end zone a lot more, averaging 43 points per game with their Air Raid offense.
''He's always moved the ball and he's always scored points,'' Cal coach Sonny Dykes said, referring to Washington State counterpart Mike Leach. ''What they're doing is the same as he's always done. They just do it very well.''
Dykes worked as an assistant under Leach at Texas Tech for seven years and runs a similar offense, though Cal's is known as the Bear Raid.
Dykes noted that Washington State is getting attention for running the ball more this year.
''They run the ball more because they've had the lead,'' Dykes said. ''If you look at when they're running the ball, they're running it at the end of ballgames when they're beating people.''
Washington State lost its first two games of the season, and hasn't lost since. Last weekend, the Cougars pounded Arizona 69-7, scoring the most points against a Pac-12 opponent in their history.
''The ball bounced our direction, no questions,'' Leach said.
As is his recent custom, Leach declined to discuss this week's opponent in any detail.
But offensive lineman Cole Madison noted that California has won 10 of the past 11 games between the teams.
''It's always been a shootout with them,'' Madison said. ''Hopefully, it goes in our favor.''
The Cougars control their own destiny and can clinch the Pac-12 North by winning their final three regular-season games – against Cal, No. 16 Colorado and No. 4 Washington.
''That's better than having no destiny,'' said receiver Gabe Marks, a veteran of some lean years. ''It's nice to play games that matter at this point in the year.''
Quarterback Luke Falk completed 32 of 35 passes against Arizona, with his 91.4 percent completion rate a Pac-12 record for more than 30 completions. He is second in the nation with 3,237 passing yards this season.
''Before we start, I tell Luke to go out there and run the show,'' Marks said. ''We'll follow him.''
Cal has not lost in Pullman since 2002.
Other things to watch when Washington State hosts Cal:
MARKS RECEPTIONS: Marks has 288 career receptions and needs seven more to break the Pac-12 record of 294 held by Colorado's Nelson Spruce. ''It would be good to have my name at the top of that record,'' said Marks, who came back for his senior year rather than try to jump to the NFL after last season.
WINNING STREAK: Washington State is seeking its eighth consecutive win. The last WSU team to do that was the 1930 squad, which won its first nine games and then lost to Alabama in the Rose Bowl. The Cougars also seek the first 7-0 conference start in their history.
POROUS DEFENSE: The teams may be similar on offense, but Cal is giving up 44 points per game, worst in the Pac-12. Washington State allows just 24 points per game.
WEBB OF TALENT: Cal QB Davis Webb has thrown for 3,176 yards this season, third in the nation. He's thrown for 30 touchdowns and run for six. Webb is also a fan of Leach. ''Coach Leach is a coach I've always looked up to ever since my childhood days at Texas watching Texas Tech,'' Webb said. ''It's a great opportunity to play those guys.''
FROSH RECEIVERS: Demetris Robertson and Melquise Stovall are the most productive freshmen receivers in Cal history. Stovall has caught 40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Robertson has caught 38 passes for 461 yards and six touchdowns.