Pac-12 Preview, Picks: Stanford Cardinal at Cal Golden Bears

kevin hogan-stanford-2013Stanford-Cal
Time: Sat, 3 PM CST
Spread: STA -5.5

Stanford comes into this week’s matchup with Cal at 5-5 on the season. The Cardinal are 3-4 in Pac-12 play, while Cal is 3-5 in conference games. Despite sporting one of the best defenses in college football, Stanford gave up 45 points to Oregon on Nov. 1.

This week, Stanford will be 5.5-point favorites over Cal according to college football odds listed on Bovada.

Cal is a very strong offensive team, so this will test the Cardinal staunch D. The Golden Bears average 40.7 points per game, while boasting the 4th highest pass yardage of any NCAA offense (352.8 per game). Defensively, however, it is a different story. Cal surrenders nearly as many as it scores, giving up 39.7 points per game. Last week, Cal lost 38-30 to USC, one of six games this season in which the Golden Bears have given up 38 points or more.

Still, there’s no discounting what Jared Goff has done at QB. He’s thrown for 3,398 yards this season with 30 TDs (and amazingly only four interceptions) while posting a passer rating of 152.4. His stable of receivers includes seven players with 300 yards or more on the season, and a quartet at the top with 481 yards or more and 22 TDs between them.

In the backfield, the Golden Bears have received excellent production from the one man backfield of Daniel Lasco. He’s rushed for 882 yards and 11 TDs, while averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. No other back has more than 45 carries, while backup QB Luke Rebenzer has rushed 39 times for 148 yards and three TDs.

Stanford has dropped three of its past four contests, but all were against ranked opponents – Arizona State, Oregon and Utah. Last week, the Cardinal fell 20-17 in double OT against then- No. 23 Utah, and following this game Stanford will face No. 9 UCLA to wrap up its season.

Senior QB Kevin Hogan is putting the caps on what will not be his most impressive college season. He’s still thrown for 2,155 yards, but he’s really just on pace with last season, for the most part, and is nearly 1.6 yards less per attempt with 21 sacks (14 all last season). His raw QB rating has fallen from 72.3 a year ago to just 49.5 this year.

The Cardinal D allows just 16.5 points per game this season.

Stanford has three running backs with decent effectiveness. Remound Wright has rushed for 396 yards on the season with two TDs, while Barry Sanders and Kelsey Young are closing in on 300 yards a piece as well. Sanders leads the team in yards per carry (excluding Ty Montgomery with 6.3 yards on 23 attempts) with 6.1 yards per carry. Hogan leads the team in rushing TDs, and has 153 yards on the season, including a 37-yard TD trot.

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