Friday, October 26, 2018

Larkins' five things to watch for in Saturday's Washington/California game

Photo Credit: Brian Murphy- Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By: Devin Larkins
Twitter: @devin_larkins

The No. 15 Washington Huskies (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) and the California Golden Bears (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) go head-to-head this Saturday in Berkeley, Calif. Here are five things to be aware of before the game. 

1) Extra set of legs: 

Quarterbacks have been traditionally known to sit behind the massive offensive linemen and just throw the ball down field to the speedy receivers. If they are not doing that, expect them to hand the ball off to an elusive, tackle breaking running back. For the California Golden Bears, this is not all of the truth. Quarterback Brandon Mcllwain has both of those skills and another huge one. He can flat out run. Mcllwain, has kept the opposing defense on their heels with his electric runs. 

Mcllwain has gained over 400 yards already this season in roughly 70 attempts. Having an extra set of legs has been a huge help to the Cal offense. Pretty much picking up majority of yards needed for the 1st down. At times, Mcllwain’s legs are the spark to the Bears offense. Mcllwain is already in the Golden Bears record book by having the most rushing yards in a single game by a quarterback.

2) The Musher:

Chris Petersen, like the musher of a championship dog sledding team leads the Huskies. Controlling and knowing when to push and pull the pack. Petersen comes into the game with an impressive 43-19 coaching record for the Huskies. 

Petersen has been doing a solid job of running past the Bears since he arrived in Seattle. The Huskies have won three out of the four games with Petersen at the helm. Beating the Bears team by more than 30 points per game.

What are the keys to his success? Preparation, discipline and details. You can bet the Huskies will be prepared for Saturday’s game.

3) Righting the Ship:

Cal has struggled this season navigating through the Pac-12. Falling to the bottom of the league currently with a 1-3 conference record. Until last week, they have played poorly, to say the least. Losing to Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA in consecutive weeks. Their losses can be attributed to a number of factors.

Notably, the offense turning the ball over more than three times per game. They are ranked 128th in turnovers lost in the country. Keep in mind there are only 129 schools in the FBS. Expect the Bears to focus on correcting this problem and getting things back right. This is a good game to get this back together. The Huskies rank in the bottom third in the nation in turnovers forced. 

4) Offense does not sell tickets on its own:

Talk to any sports pundit, fan or movie goer and they will mention offense selling tickets.

The Huskies have a strong offense led by senior quarterback Jake Browning. With Browning under center, the Huskies have been moving the ball quite well— amassing over 400 yards per game. They do this with a very balanced, but potent attack. Myles Gaskin has powered the ground game all year, quite consistency too. Gaskins has rushed for more than 75 yards in five games this year. When this happens, the data proves to give them a higher chance of winning the game. Keep your eyes open for the No. 9 and his elusiveness.

5) Upsetting at home:

Winning is always the goal but certainly winning on your home turf. This is a very important to the success of the team. The Bears are needing to protect their home advantage. This year has not been the best for them. Winning two games, but losing the same amount. 

Cal will try to upset 15th ranked Washington. To do a little speculating, if they win this game, we can guess it would give them a strong chance to break into the AP or even the College Sports Overload Mock CFP Top 25 poll. Surely whatever the outcome on Saturday, the word upset could be used.