California (3-0, 0-0 in Pac-12) at Washington (2-1, 0-0 in Pac-12)
2 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium
The line: California by 3
TV: Pac-12 Networks
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--- Our advance of today’s game focuses on the “humongous” challenge the Huskies’ defense will face against Jared Goff and California’s offense. An excerpt:
Happy as the memories might be, the Washington Huskies do not expect that their game Saturday against California will resemble what happened in Berkeley last season.
The Huskies won that game, 31-7, sparked by Shaq Thompson’s 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first quarter. Cal never recovered.
But there’s a reason the Golden Bears, 3-0 for the first time since 2011, enter Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at Husky Stadium as three-point favorites. Their offense, led by junior quarterback Jared Goff, will be by far the best the Huskies have seen yet in this young season — and likely one of the best they see this year, period.
So, as Huskies offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said, the Huskies approach this matchup with the knowledge that last year was mostly an aberration. If this Cal team does nothing else, it will at least move the ball and score points.
“We’re counting on getting a four-quarter battle. They are never going to be out of this thing,” Smith said. “Offensively, we’ve got to be effective, because we’re not going to win this game 10-7.”
To that end, this appears to be a strength-on-strength encounter. It’s just that Cal’s strength — its offense — is far more proven. In victories against Grambling State, San Diego State and Texas, the Bears have averaged 7.44 yards per play, a mark that ranks ninth nationally. And in his third year as Cal’s starting quarterback, Goff has a handful of NFL draft analysts projecting him as a potential top-five pick.
The Huskies (2-1), meanwhile, appear stronger defensively than many assumed they would be following the departures of Thompson, Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha and Marcus Peters to the NFL. UW ranks eighth nationally and first in the Pac-12 in yards-per-play allowed (3.88), and is particularly stout against the run, allowing only 2.56 yards per carry.
But none of the Huskies’ first three opponents — Boise State, Sacramento State, Utah State — pose the same kind of challenge as Cal and Goff, who has completed 73.1 percent of his pass attempts for 898 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
There was one Pac-12 game on Friday night ...
Stanford 42, Oregon State 24 -- Kevin Hogan played, and played well, for the victorious Cardinal. Stanford improved to 2-0 in conference play after its second consecutive Pac-12 road win. OSU’s defense succumbed to explosive plays.
And there are four other games today ...
Nicholls State at Colorado, 10:30 a.m. (Pac-12 Networks) -- The Buffaloes are making adjustments better this season.
UCLA at Arizona, 5 p.m. (ABC) -- The Bruins would like to forget about last year’s game against Arizona. ... UCLA has been a thorn for the Wildcats lately.
USC at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN) -- A scouting report and prediction from Doug Haller. ... The Trojans will be feeling the heat in the desert.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple