NCAA Football Saturday Picks: California Golden Bears at Stanford Cardinal

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Cal at Stanford

Time: 2:30 PM CST, Saturday

Spread: STAN -2

Total: 40

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Stanford Cardinal is 4-6 on the season with a 3-5 mark in Pac-12 play. Stanford will host visiting Cal as 2-point favorites Saturday at 2:30 PM (CST) on the Pac-12 Network. The over/under is set at 40 total points according to NCAA Football oddsmakers at 5dimes.


Stanford enters this week as losers of its last two, having fallen 22-49 last week to Washington State and losers of a 13-16 contest to Colorado the week prior. It closes the season next week against a No. 16 ranked Notre Dame team and winning both this week as an underdog and next week as a heavy underdog to finish .500 seems unlikely.

Much of the blame for this to-be losing season falls on the defense of Stanford. It allows 28.9 points per game, and the offense just cannot keep up, scoring 21.6 itself. Stanford ranks No. 42 in the nation in pass offense at 258.3 yards per game, but it gets just 108.7 via the rush, ranking in the bottom-10 teams overall of FBS-1A.

Stanford has used two quarterbacks this season, and Davis Mills has (slightly) been the better of the two. Mills and KJ Costello (and Jack West’s 32 throws) combine to form a quarterback with 61.3 percent passing, 15 touchdowns, and just six interceptions— not bad. What is bad, however, is Stanford’s rush game. The Cardinal average just 3.7 yards-per-attempt as a team, and its lead rusher Cameron Scarlett averages just 4.4 per-carry, though he does have 766 yards and five touchdowns this season. The team has just six though, with the other coming from No. 2 back Austin Jones, who has just 32 carries all season.

The receivers have four over the 400-yard mark, led by Michael Wilson’s 40 catches for 513 yards and four touchdowns. Tight end Colby Parkinson leads the team in TD catches with six, and he is No. 2 in receptions (41) and No. 3 in yardage (492). The Cardinal has 15 receiving touchdowns on the season.

Kicker Jet Toner has been superb. He has hit 13 of 13 PATs and 12 of 16 field goals, including a long of 51-yards. Ryan Sandborn is 9 of 9 on PATs and 4 of 6 on field goals, but both of his misses came from within the 40-yard line.


California is 5-5 on the season, but it is just 2-5 in Pac-12 play. It won all three non-conference games this season.

The Golden Bears are not having a good offensive season, which is limiting the impact of its rather good defense. Cal is scoring just 21 per game this year while holding opponents to 22.7. It has a weak pass offense (No. 111) and a weak rush offense (No. 110) so moving the ball and scoring has been tough for Cal this season.

The Bears have experimented with three quarterbacks this season, but none have had overwhelming success. The best has been Chase Garbers, who has thrown for 985 yards at a 57.6 percent clip. He has eight touchdowns and two interceptions, while Devon Modster is at an even 5 and 5, respectively. Garbers is a decent rush threat with 58 carries for 130 yards, but he has not scored a touchdown rushing the football. Chris Brown Jr leads the Bears with 628 yards and five touchdowns on his 152 carries. No. 2 running back Marcel Dancy has about one-third as many carries (54) and just 233 yards and two touchdowns. Modster has done well carrying from the pocket with 48 carries and a No. 3 best 168 yards and a touchdown.

Cal has eight receivers with 100 yards or more on the season, led by Jordan Duncan’s 23 catches for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Brown Jr. leads the team in receiving touchdowns with three, and he has totaled 16 catches for 112 yards.

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