Cal Football Preview Box: Bears Travel To Face No. 9 Oregon Friday

Cal will play a Friday night game on ESPN when it faces No. 9 Oregon in Eugene, Ore., and the Ducks have won 15 straight home games.

The Golden Bears have not defeated a top-10 team on the road since it upset 10th-ranked Indiana 17-14 in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1969. The Bears ended that season 52 years ago with a 5-5 overall record and a sixth-place finish in the Pac-8.

Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox says in the video atop this story that winning the turnover battle will be key in Friday’s game. Cal did that when it upset Oregon last year, but as you will notice in the storylines below, the Ducks have been much better in the turnover-margin category than Cal this season.

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Here are the important facts for Friday night’s contest:

CAL (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) vs. NO. 9 OREGON (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)

SITE: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon

WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN -- Beth Mowins (Play-By-Play), Kirk Morrison (Analyst), Dawn Davenport (Sideline Reporter)

RADIO: KGO 810 AM -- Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (sideline reporter).

BETTING LINE: Oregon is favored by 13 1/2 points. Over/under is 54 points.

WEATHER FORECAST: There is only an 10 percent chance of rain Friday night in Eugene, where wet weather is common. It is expected to be mostly sunny Friday afternoon with a high of about 69 degrees, but it will become partly cloudy Friday night with the temperature dropping to 42 degrees. Humidity Friday night could reach 95 percent.

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CAL-OREGON HISTORY: Cal leads the all-time series 41-40-2, and the Bears won last year's meeting, upsetting the 23rd-ranked Ducks 21-17 in Berkeley. That was Cal’s only win of the season. Cal linebacker Kuony Deng, who was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week after forcing two pivotal Oregon fumbles and getting 1.5 tackles for loss in the upset of the Ducks, will not be available for Friday’s game. Before last year’s upset of Oregon, Cal had lost 10 of its previous 11 games to the Ducks. The Bears have not won in Eugene since 2007, dropping six straight at Autzen Stadium.

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INJURIES:

Cal: Outside linebacker Kuony Deng will miss his fourth straight game, and it is unclear whether he will play again this season. Running back DeCarlos Brooks will miss his second straight game because of an injury. Safety Craig Woodson and nose guard Stanley McKenzie are out for the season.

Oregon: Two key starters – running back CJ Verdell and safety Bennett Williams – will miss the rest of the season as a result of injuries sustained in the loss to Stanford. Freshman defensive end Bradyn Swinson, who had two sacks in the only two games he played, is expected to return Friday after missing the past three games with an injury. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux must sit out the first half of Friday’s game after being ejected for targeting in the second half against Stanford.

CAL STORYLINES: The Bears had a bye last week and are coming off their worst performance of the season, a 21-6 loss to Washington State on Oct. 2 . . . The Bears need to win five of their final seven games to get a bowl berth, and need to win six more games to ensure a winning season. . . . Cal QB Chase Garbers has played pretty well this season and had converted a number of big plays. But he is coming off his worst showing in the loss to Washington State, when he completed less than half his passes for no touchdowns and an interception while being sacked four times. He had been getting time to throw in the first four games, but the offensive line provided virtually no protection against WSU . . . Garbers has 898 yards rushing for his career and is closing in on the school record for rushing yards by a Cal quarterback, a mark held by Joe Kapp, who ran for 931 yards. . . . The Cal running back situation is in flux. Damien Moore is still listed as the starter, but Christopher Brooks and Chris Street were more productive than Moore against Washington State and figure to get more playing time . . . The Cal defense, which has been a strength in past years, has struggled, particularly against the pass, getting little pressure on the quarterback and not defending receivers well. Cal ranks ninth in the conference in pass defense . . . Cal’s defense has forced six turnovers, and the Bears are even (six takeaways, six turnovers) in turnover margin

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Chase Garbers says red-zone offense, which has been a problem for Cal this season, will be one of the keys for the Bears on Friday:

OREGON STORYLINES: Oregon has won 15 straight games at Autzen Stadium, the third-longest active home win streak in the nation. The Ducks are 3-0 at home this season, averaging 40.0 points a game while allowing just 16.7 points. . . . The Ducks, who are coming off a bye, were ranked as high as third in the country after beating Ohio State on the road, but a shaky win over Arizona and an overtime loss to Stanford has dropped Oregon’s ranking to No. 9 and has people wondering whether the win over the Buckeyes was a fluke . . . . This will be Oregon’s first game without its leading rusher, CJ Verdell, who suffered a season-ending injury in the 31-24 overtime loss to Stanford. . . Standout defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, projected as a possible No. 1 overall NFL draft pick, will sit out the first half of Friday’s game after being ejected from the Stanford game for targeting . . . The Ducks have committed just two turnovers for the season, which ties them with Michigan for the fewest in the country . . . Oregon defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter was on the Cal coaching staff last season. He had been the Bears’ defensive coordinator before being before being replaced in that role by Peter Sirmon . . . Oregon’s turnover margin of plus-11 is third-best in the country. Twelve of Oregon’s 13 takeaways have come at home . . . Takeaways have saved the Ducks, whose defense gives up a lot of yardage. Oregon ranks last in the Pac-12 in total defense, yielding 412 yards a game, although it ranks fourth in yards yielded per play allowed (5.44). The loss of safety Bennett Williams, who had three interceptions this season, won’t help . . . Oregon leads the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 35.8 points per game. The Ducks have three excellent receivers in Johnny Johnson III, Jaylon Redd and Mycah Pittman, and Pittman is also a good return man. However, quarterback Anthony Brown has not always been able to get the ball to them. . . . Brown is a dual threat, but he has not been as productive overall as Oregon would like.

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CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Chase Garbers (Pac-12 leader in total offense);

OLB Cameron Goode (2 sacks, 3 quarterback hits);

RB Christopher Brooks (looked strong against Washington State);

WR Trevon Clark

(20.1 yards per reception, 2 TDs);

WR Nikko Remigio (team-high 18 receptions, productive return man);

S Daniel Scott (24 solo tackles, 3 interceptions).

OREGON PLAYERS TO WATCH: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (likely to be a top-five NFL draft pick, must sit out the first half of Friday’s game);

RB Travis Dye (6.4 yards per carry, expected to have more carries in CJ Verdell’s absence);

WR Johnny Johnson III

(11 receptions, 162 yards, one of three standout wideouts);

LB Noah Sewel

(team-high 42 tackles, 2.0 sacks);

DB Verone McKinley III (4 interceptions, tied for most in the nation);

QB Anthony Brown

(dual-threat QB has 6 TD passes and 4 TD runs).

CAL STATISTICS:

Click here

CAL NOTES, DEPTH CHART:

Click Here

OREGON NOTES, STATISTICS, DEPTH CHART:

Click here

JAKE'S PICK: Oregon 30, Cal 24

JEFF’S PICK: Oregon 38, Cal 21

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Cover photo of Oregon's CJ Verdell, Anthony Brown and Jaylon Redd is by Stan Szeto, USA TODAY Sports

.

Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

Find Cal Sports Report on Facebook by searching: @si.calsportsreport or going to https://www.facebook.com/si.calsportsreport

Source : https://www.si.com/college/cal/news/cal-preview-box-oregon-oct-14

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