This week’s edition of Friday Night Lights takes us to Berkeley, where California will take on Washington in a Pac-12 showdown.
As of early this morning, most sports books had Cal (3-6 straight up, 3-6 against the spread) favored by four with a total of 52. Bettors can take the Huskies to win outright for a plus-160 payout (risk $100 to win $160).
Washington (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS) has had an up-and-down year highlighted by a pair of home wins over previously-unbeaten teams. The Huskies knocked off Stanford 17-13 as seven-point home underdogs in a Thursday night game on Sept. 27.
But Steve Sarkisian’s squad went on a three-game losing slide following the win over the Cardinal. UW snapped out of the three-game funk by shocking Oregon St. 20-17 as a three-point home underdog last weekend.
Bishop Sankey rushed 25 times for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but UW’s defense was the catalyst in the victory as they intercepted OSU quarterback Sean Mannion four times.
Sandwiched between the wins over top-10 teams Stanford and Oregon St, the Huskies lost at Oregon (52-21) vs. Southern Cal (24-14) and at Arizona (52-17). They also got killed 41-3 at LSU in Week 2.
UW’s two other wins came at home vs. San Diego St. (21-12) and vs. Portland St. (52-13).
Promising junior quarterback Keith Rivers has not been able to match the numbers he posted in 2011 when he completed 66.0 percent of his passes with a 33/11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. In 2012, Rivers has completed only 60.1 percent of his throws with a mediocre 8/9 TD-INT ratio.
Sankey, the true sophomore running back, has emerged as the team’s most consistent offensive option. Sankey has rushed for 666 yards and nine TD, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Despite Sankey’s production, UW’s offense has been a colossal disappointment. The Huskies are ranked 105th in the country in scoring offense, averaging a pedestrian 20.6 points per game. The UW defense is ranked 68th in the nation, giving up 28.0 PPG.
Washington has been pathetic in three road games, losing by margins of 38, 35, and 31 points.
Cal head coach Jeff Tedord is on a boiling hot seat in his 11th season at the helm. Tedford won 43 games in his first five years from 2002-2006, including a pair of 10-win campaigns. However, the win totals have been 7, 9, 8, 5 and 7 the last five years and the Bears must win out just to be considered for a bowl game.
Cal has lost three of its five home games at its newly renovated stadium, limping to a 1-4 spread record in the process. Since beating UCLA 43-17 at home and winning 31-17 at Washington St, Cal has dropped back-to-back contests in blowout fashion.
Stanford went into Memorial Stadium and captured a 21-3 win as a one-point road ‘chalk.’ Then last week, Cal lost 49-27 at Utah as a 1 ½-point road underdog.
Cal actually out-yarded the Utes 441-344 in total offense, but Utah won the turnover battle 3-1. Zach Maynard threw for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns compared to one interception.
For the season, Maynard has connected on 61.8 percent of his passes for 2,048 yards with a 12/9 TD-INT ratio. He also has three rushing scores.
Maynard’s favorite target has been Keenan Allen, who has 60 receptions for 739 yards and six touchdowns. However, Allen is ‘out’ tonight after sustaining a knee injury in last week’s loss at Utah.
C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele split the rushing load for the Bears, combining for 989 rushing yards and six TDs.
In addition to Allen, Cal could be without three other starters. WR Bryce Treggs (21 catches, 217 yards, 1 TD), LB Chris McCain and CB Mark Anthony are all listed as ‘questionable.’
Cal has thrived as a home favorite during Tedford’s 11-year tenure, compiling a 32-20 spread record. Meanwhile, Washington has limped to a 6-11 spread record as a road ‘dog under Sarkisian.
Washington has won three in a row both SU and ATS in this head-to-head rivalry against Cal. The ‘under’ has cashed in each of those three contests, including last year’s 31-23 Washington victory as a one-point home favorite that had a total of 58.
The ‘under’ is 5-3 overall for the Bears, 3-1 in their home games. The ‘under’ is 5-2 overall for the Huskies, but the ‘over’ is 2-1 in their road assignments.
Kickoff is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Washington is 5-1 ATS in the last six head-to-head meetings against Cal.
--Although the ‘under’ has cashed in the last three encounters, the ‘over’ hit in the six previous Cal-UW meetings.
--Iowa St. senior linebacker Jake Knott is out for the rest of the season after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery Monday. Knott, who is the sixth-leading tackler in Cyclones football history, suffered a tear in his left shoulder in a 31-10 loss at Oklahoma St. two weeks ago. Following the diagnosis, Knott requested to play one last time before surgery. The doctors gave their blessing as long as Knott didn’t take any pain-killing injections. He didn’t and made 11 tackles and had one forced fumble in last week’s 35-21 win over Baylor. The Cyclones won’t be the same without their inspirational leader when they take the field Saturday vs. Oklahoma as 12-point home underdogs.
--Florida junior wide receiver Solomon Patton is out for the season after breaking the humerus bone in his left arm during a 17-9 loss vs. Georgia. Patton had only one reception for 17 yards this season but he rushed for 140 yards on 14 carries, mostly on jet sweeps after being put in motion in Brent Pease’s offense. Patton had a 54-yard run on a fake punt in a 31-17 win at Vanderbilt.
--Since 1995, Vanderbilt has been a road favorite vs. an SEC opponent just five times. The Commodores are 0-5 ATS in those games with only one outright win, an 11-10 victory at South Carolina in 1999. Vandy is favored by seven Saturday at Kentucky.
--With last night's 30-12 loss at Miami, Va. Tech fell to 4-5 on the season. The Hokies haven't lost five games in a season since going 8-5 in 2003.
--Click here to check out my Power Rankings going into Week 10.
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
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