Arizona has won the last four matchups against Cal, but all have been ridiculously close, with the largest win coming by five points. Last year’s matchup went to double overtime when UA squeaked out a 45-44 win.
In fact, of the 33 games in this series, 23 have been decided by one possession (8 points) or fewer.
Cal is favored by 2.5 points in the rematch with an over/under of 57. How do we think the game will shake out? Here are our predictions. Be sure to leave yours in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 24-20
Believe it or not, Arizona’s defense is the side of the ball that’s shown the most progress and improvement since the start of the season. Penalty-assistance aside, the Wildcats defended fairly well against USC last week and now faces a Cal offense that’s far less potent. Arizona is getting better on offense, just not as quickly, so it may need a defensive score to pull this one out.
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 27-24
The Cal offense is an abomination, outside of Kanawai Noa at receiver—ranking in the bottom-half of each major category. Their defense is down there near the bottom too, but looked good in the few games of theirs I’ve watched. I think Havrisik probably misses another field goal or two on Saturday, but JJ Taylor and Gary Brightwell torch Cal’s defense, which is giving up just shy of 164 rushing yards per game this year, while Khalil Tate does Juuuuust enough to carry the Wildcats to a hard-fought win, giving them five straight wins in the series, dating back to 2010.
Zant Reyez — Arizona wins 24-21
Way back when we thought Arizona was a 10-win team (good times) I had UA winning this game, but said I could see Cal stealing it. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to UA in this one and give them a win.
Is Khalil Tate healthy? We probably won’t get a clear answer so we’ll just see how many times he limps after taking a hit or running five-yards. But he’s healthy enough to hand it to his running backs and that’s what UA needs to do.
Brandon Combs — Arizona wins 28-21
This is an interesting game. Arizona’s defense is making great strides and starting to solidify. The offense is improving but has been plagued by slow starts. This game, however, looks good for Arizona.
The Bears’ offense is anemic, raking 10th in the Pac-12 in total offense, Arizona is second. The Bears are also 10th in scoring, while the ‘Cats are fourth. Couple that with an improving UA defense and the advantage goes to the ‘Cats.
Cal’s defense hasn’t been anything to look at either. They are middle to bottom-middle of the conference in yards allowed and scoring defense. Advantage Arizona. Couple all of that with playing in Tucson and on Family Day and you have a Wildcat win.
Jason Bartel — Arizona wins 27-23
It looks like all of us are kind of on the same page — a relatively low-scoring, tight game.
The main thing that gives me optimism for Arizona in this one is Cal’s inability to hang on to the ball when they get it. Ten turnovers in four games is quite a lot and I believe Arizona actually has the right defensive personnel to take advantage of that particular weakness.
I also think both teams will have issues finishing drives, thus why I have so many field goals being kicked in this one. So Arizona will come out on top in the Dylan Klumph Cup.
Gabe Encinas — Cal wins 27-21
Welp, I guess I’m the only one going with Cal. Arizona’s defense has been improving each of the last three weeks, but I don’t see the Khalil Tate leading an effective offense for four quarters.
I thought this wasn’t going to be a close game when I predicted nine wins prior to the season, and that win total has almost been halved since week one.
It’ll be a close game, but I just don’t see Arizona taking this, though it is a winnable game. I just don’t have confidence in Noel Mazzone and Marcel Yates.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 28-24
This game will be close, because seemingly every game in this series is.
Neither team is very good, but Cal did fare much better against BYU than Arizona did. Still, the transitive property doesn’t determine football games, and I think the Wildcats will barely squeak by.
As others have mentioned, it will come down to turnovers and how committed Arizona is to running the ball. Cal’s secondary has been pretty opportunistic this year, tallying seven interceptions in four games, and the Bears can easily swing this game with an interception or two of Khalil Tate.
I’d like to see Gary Brightwell get more touches, as I think he’s proven to be the better running back in UA’s system, given its propensity to run the ball between the tackles.