California at San Diego State
Saturday, 7:30 pm PT - CBSC
San Diego State -8 O/U 59.5
San Diego State -7 O/U 62
Following its 51-31 win over Hawaii in Australia, the Cal Golden Bears will have had over two weeks to prepare for a tough trip to San Diego State. The Aztecs don't get to host many power conference teams (34-30 loss vs. Oregon State in 2013) and will have their sights set on avenging last year's 35-7 loss to Cal in Berkeley.
Despite a slew of defections on offense, Cal managed 630 yards on 89 plays (7.0 ypp) against the Rainbow Warriors. Texas Tech transfer quarterback Davis Webb looks to be an ideal fit as he hung 441 yards and four touchdowns. But for such a young offense, this is a massive step up in class as San Diego State's defense grades out as the best in the Mountain West and among the top 20 nationally.
Cal obviously played in a lot of high scoring games last season but against more moderate paced and or pro style offenses, the outcomes were far more traditional: 30-24 win at Washington, 30-24 loss at Utah, 27-21 loss vs. USC, and a 35-22 loss at Stanford. You can also add to that group their 35-7 win over San Diego State. The game featured a relatively modest 136 plays and while there was 810 combined yards, that still equates to around 55 points (the total closed 59).
Another interesting angle is San Diego State's offense. In 2014 the Aztecs averaged 394.5 ypg, 5.92 ypp, and 25.0 ppg. In 2015's breakout 11-win campaign, the Aztecs averaged 375.3 ypg, 5.67 ypp, and 32.1 ppg. The team's strength of schedule both years was nearly identical but the difference
and main cause of over a touchdown scoring improvement
was a nation-leading +22 turnover margin. Good defenses force turnovers but those numbers simply can't be duplicated. That's not to say San Diego State's offense isn't capable, but I expect to see it rank in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West in terms of yardage production. And while Cal doesn't possess much in the way of a stop unit, they do have speed and won't have to gameplan as much for an SDSU offense that prefers to run the football right at teams and control the clock.
I see Cal being able to put up more resistance that its reputation suggests and San Diego State to stick to ground per usual. Value on the under.