Scoring a huge win against North Dakota State, Arizona Football (2-1), returns to action to begin Pac-12 play against the Cal Golden Bears (2-1).
We’re rolling along in the 2022 Arizona Football season, and with the Wildcats fresh off of a hard-fought win against FCS Powerhouse North Dakota State, the Wildcats will have to prepare for its first Pac-12 road trip of the season.
Returning to action this Saturday for week four of the 2022 season, the Wildcats should have a fairly tough challenge on their hands here as they take on Pac-12 foe, the Cal Golden Bears.
Coming in, the Golden Bears are off to a solid start this year with wins over UC Davis and UNLV and nearly came back against Notre Dame before narrowly losing.
Unfortunately for Arizona, this year Cal appears to be healthy and should be ready to take on the Wildcats for this important homecoming matchup!
Getting to Know the details of Arizona Football’s opponent, the California Golden Bears.
Team: California Golden Bears
Conference: Pac-12 Conference
Head Coach: Justin Wilcox enters his sixth season as the Golden Bears’ head coach and has compiled a 28–29 (15–25) record. Wilcox has also taken Cal to two bowl games in his time spent in Berkeley, sporting a 1-1 record in those bowl games.
2021 Record: Finishing 5–7 (4–5) in 2021, Cal ended its season with a 24–14 win over conference foe USC. The Golden Bears did also beat cross-town rival Stanford in dominating fashion as they cruised to the 41-11 win.
Key Returners / Starters:
Led behind quarterback Jack Plummer (yes, that is the older brother to current Wildcat Will Plummer), the Golden Bears did lose several key offensive players from last season and are just now getting their bearings under them.
And so far with Jack under center after transferring from Purdue, the Golden Bears seem to possess enough offensive firepower to score some points and challenge the Wildcats.
They do like to spread the field, using J. Michael Sturdivant, Jeremiah Sturdivant, and Mavin Anderson as their primary targets at receiver. Together, the three account for a significant amount of their offensive production.
Beyond that, the Golden Bears should challenge the Cats in the box. Against North Dakota State, the Bison dominated the line of scrimmage as they ran for 283 yards.
Come Saturday, the Bears should present yet another significant challenge for the Wildcats defensively, as the Golden Bears use Jaydn Ott and DeCarlos Brooks. Together, the two have rushed for 289 yards on 60 carries (4.8 average).
For the Wildcats to be successful, it means they once again must maintain solid gap responsibility and attack the line of scrimmage. Luckily, Jack is not as elusive as his predecessor Chase Garbers, but hopefully, the Cats can pressure him enough on Saturday.
Defensively, the Golden Bears are a solid group! Using primarily a base 3-4 defense, Cal is holding opponents to just 331.0 yards (131.7 rushing and 199.3 passing), and 17.0 points per game.
Led by its linebacking corps, this is an area of strength for the Golden Bears as they are led by Washington transfer Jackson Sirmon along with Femi Oladejo and Myles Jernigan. Together, the three lead the defense in tackles and help solidify this group.
Along the defensive line, Cal is just as talented. Possessing good size across the line, Ricky Correia is a big body at nose tackle, with Ethan Saunders and Arizona State transfer Xavier Carlton helping to provide a formidable pass rush.
Lastly, in the secondary, Cal possesses some big hitters and playmakers that don’t typically get beat deep. They are currently holding teams to just 199.3 yards passing, 8.93 yards per completion, and just four touchdowns.
Overall, the Wildcats should once again have a challenge on their hands as this is a formidable and aggressive defense. If Arizona can find a rhythm and move the ball as they did against North Dakota State, look for them to have a chance to win this one.
Game information and details for Arizona Football:
When: Saturday, September 24th, 2022
Time: 2:30 PM MST
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Where: FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium – Berkeley, CA (62,467)
Overall Series Record: 19-14-2 Arizona. Having met several times in their history, the Wildcats currently own a narrow lead over the Golden Bears. The Wildcats have also won the last six-straight meetings between the two schools. Cal’s last win came in 2009 in Berkeley.
Last Meeting vs. Arizona: Last year in Tucson, Arizona played a Covid-riddled Cal team in which they came away with the hard-fought, 10-3 win. It was the only win the Wildcats had last season.
My Prediction: Arizona 27 Cal 23 – Despite Cal opening up as a three-and-a-half-point favorite, this is a different Arizona team from a year ago. Granted, I don’t see the Golden Bears losing one-third of its roster to Covid like last season; however, I still think the Cats win this one.
Using a solid offensive performance from Jayden de Laura and Co., I think the Wildcats carry their momentum from its win over North Dakota State the week before for another win over Cal, as well as their first winning streak since the 2019 season.