College Football Pac 12 Betting Predictions: Stanford Cardinal at California Golden Bears

#20 Stanford Cardinal at California Golden Bears
Saturday, October 20, 2012, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Memorial Stadium –  Berkeley, California
Opening Line: Stanford -2 1/2
Current Line: Stanford -2 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 51 1/2
Current Total: 48 1/2
Opening Money Line: Stanford -140 / Cal +120
Current Money Line: Stanford -140 / Cal +120

Stanford and Cal meet for the 115th time in the annual Big Game. This is the first ever meeting between the schools in October.

The Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears meet in the 115th edition of the Big Game Saturday in Berkeley. It is also the 30th anniversary of the famous “Band Play” that is arguably the most famous sports highlight in history. Even though both teams are in the same division in the Pac 12, for some reason they scheduled the game for the middle of October instead of to close out the regular season as had been traditional until recently. Stanford leads the series 57-46-11, including 24-21-6 in Berkeley. The Cardinal has won two straight in the series, including 31-28 last year in Palo Alto.

Stanford is 4-2 this season and 2-1 in the Pac 12 under coach David Shaw. The Cardinal have road losses at Washington 17-13 and last week at Notre Dame 20-13 in overtime. Stanford has home wins over San Jose St 20-17, Duke 50-13, USC 21-14, and Arizona 54-48 in overtime. The Cardinal is 3-3 ATS this season, and the total is 2-4. They were 7.5 point underdogs at Notre Dame last week and the total was 42.

Stanford is averaging 365.7 yards per game, including 212.7 passing yards and 153 rushing yards. The Cardinal are outscoring opponents 28.5-21.5 this season. Stanford is +6 in turnovers, and has allowed 6 sacks. The Cardinal are 34/94 on third and fourth down conversions, and 18/23 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns. On defense, Stanford is giving up 369.5 yards per game including 280 passing yards, and 89.5 rushing yards. The Cardinal are 7th against the run nationally, but 110th against the pass. Stanford has forced 20 sacks. Stanford opponents are 41/115 on third and fourth down conversions, and 19/23 scoring in the red zone with 11 touchdowns.

Quarterback Josh Nunes has struggled so far. Nunes has completed 98/184 passes (53.3%) for 1,270 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 18 carries, 50 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has been sacked 6 times. Running back Stepfan Taylor has 147 carries, 657 yards, and 5 touchdowns along with 19 catches, 104 yards and a touchdown. No other Cardinal rusher has more than 18 carries, and those are by the quarterback. Tight end Zach Ertz has 25 catches, 371 yards, and 2 touchdowns.   Levine Toilolo has 13 catches, 278 yards and 2 touchdowns. Drew Terrell has 13 catches, 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ty Montgomery has 18 catches for 139 yards. He is doubtful with a knee injury.

California is 3-4 this season and 2-2 in the Pac 12 under coach Jeff Tedford. The Golden Bears have losses at home to Nevada 31-24 and Arizona St 27-17, along with road losses at Ohio St 35-28 and USC 27-9. Cal has home wins over Southern Utah 50-31 and UCLA 43-17, along with a road win at Washington St last week 31-17. The Bears have won 2 games in a row after a 3 game losing streak. Cal is 3-4 ATS and the total is 2-4. The Bears were 7 point favorites in the Washington St game and the total was 54.5.

California is averaging 416.9 yards per game on offense, including 222.1 passing and 194.7 rushing yards. The Golden Bears are outscoring teams 28.9-26.4 this season. Cal is +2 in turnovers, even though they have 13 turnovers. The Bears have allowed 29 sacks this season, and are averaging 80.7 penalty yards per game. Cal is 35/98 on third and fourth down conversions and 19/25 scoring in the red zone with 12 touchdowns. On defense, Cal is allowing 418.9 yards per game, including 270.4 passing yards and 148.4 rushing yards. Cal is #110 against the pass nationally.  The Bears have forced 15 turnovers and 18 sacks this season. Cal opponents are 57/128 on third and fourth down conversions and 22/30 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns.

Cal quarterback Zach Maynard has completed 126 of 204 passes (61.8%) for 1,537 yards with 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also has 3 rushing touchdowns, but has been sacked 29 times. Running back C.J. Anderson has 72 carries, 498 yards and and 4 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Brendan Bigelow has 23 carries, 277 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 3 catches, 37 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Keenan Allen has 52 catches, 633 yards, and 5 touchdowns, along with 3 carries, 39 yards and a touchdown. Allen also has a punt return for a touchdown. Chris Harper, Bryce Treggs, and Richard Rodgers will also get some targets but Allen is main receiver. Tight end Spencer Hagan is questionable this week. Four linebackers and two offensive linemen are out for the season for the Bears.

Stanford is 4-0-1 ATS against teams with losing records, 7-1 in October, 13-2-1 in road games, 4-1 after scoring 20 points or less, 19-6-1 after a cover, 6-2 in road games against teams with losing home records, 18-7-1 on grass, 34-16-1 overall, 1-4 in Pac 12 games, 1-5 after gaining less than 275 yards, and 0-4 after a straight up loss. The road team is 5-2 ATS recently in this series.

Cal is 5-1 ATS after allowing 280 passing yards or more, 4-1 after a straight up win, and at home against teams with losing road records, 6-2 in Pac 12 games, and 1-5 on grass. The last four games have gone over in this series, and Cal is 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 against Stanford.

If it were any other team, Stanford could suffer an emotional letdown after such a heartbreaking loss last week at Notre Dame. Notre Dame made a goal line stand in overtime. On fourth and goal, Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor was stopped inside the one. Replays showed he might have nudged the ball across the line, but there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. However, against arch-rival Cal an emotional letdown will not be an issue. Stanford struggles on offense, but Cal’s defense isn’t great especially against the pass. The Bears have played a lot better in the last two weeks, but I still like Stanford to win a close low scoring game.

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