Another win and California might find itself back in the Top 25 for the first time in five years.
Looking to start the season with four wins for the first time since 2007, the Golden Bears visit Washington (2-1) on Saturday to open Pac-12 Conference play.
California (3-0) survived last week against Texas, and another road victory could land them in the Top 25 for the first time since early in the 2010 season.
”Anytime guys start having success I think that means you’re having a level of success as a program,” California coach Sonny Dykes said.
While the Pac-12 is filled with intriguing games this week, one of the best quarterback matchups could be Cal’s proven veteran, Jared Goff, and Washington’s young star Jake Browning. Goff is eighth nationally in both completion percentage and passing efficiency and has thrown three touchdowns in all three games this season. He’s two TD passes shy of tying Kyle Boller’s school record of 64.
Browning has gotten better since the season opening loss at Boise State. He threw for 368 yards last week against Utah State, the most by a Washington freshman, and completed 12 straight passes during the second half including two touchdowns.
”Jake reminds me a lot of Jared coming out of high school. He’s very well-coached in high school,” Dykes said. ”When you play in that kind of offense and you make all those decisions that quarterbacks make, that helps you play earlier as a freshman.”
Goff has the added motivation of erasing a miserable game last season against Washington when the Huskies rolled to a 31-7 victory. It’s one of the few times the past two seasons the Bears simply weren’t competitive.
”It was a letdown for us. That was a big game for us to come in and defend our home. Washington just beat us down,” Cal linebacker Michael Barton said. ”They physically just destroyed us last year. We’re looking for redemption for that this year.”
Here’s what else to watch as the Bears and Huskies meet for the 96th time:
GET MOVING: Browning’s performance as a passer has grabbed attention, but the Huskies run game needs to get going. The Huskies were held to 29 yards rushing against Boise State, and then managed 74 yards against the aggressive blitzes of Utah State. Dwayne Washington has 31 yards on 14 carries through three weeks after closing out last season with three straight 100-yard games.
”I really think it’s newness, newness of some guys being out there playing together,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.