Synopsis: California’s season started out with high hopes, and the Golden Bears reached fourth in the polls before being embarrassed in back-to-back games to fall out of the national spotlight. Jahvid Best was the Bear’s running back with a Heisman campaign, but a series of concussions sidelined him for the year. Shane Vereen has been a suitable replacement for Best, rushing for 830 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Utah finished third in the ultra-difficult Mountain West conference behind TCU and BYU. The Utes also lost to Oregon 31-24 in September. When the toughest opponents have appeared on the schedule, the Utes have failed to deliver any wins.
Player to watch: Kevin Riley, the Bears’ quarterback has been the key to their season. When he plays well, the rest of the team seems to follow. When Riley completes more than 50% of his passes, the Bears are 8-1. When he completes less than that mark, they are 0-3. Cal needs consistency from that position to beat the Utes.
Who has the edge? Utah is smart when scheduling teams like Oregon in the non-conference slate, because it helps them become battle-tested come bowl season. Even if the Utes lost all three games against ranked opponents, they are used to playing top competition.
After losing Best and coming off a 42-10 loss to Washington in the season finale, the Bears are not top competition. Utah has more to play for in this game, though both squads had higher hopes than this game prior to the season.
Utah 31, Cal 21