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California Golden Bears vs. BYU Cougars Prediction and Preview

California Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox

California Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox

There might not be two schools more different than Cal Berkeley and Brigham Young University. It might be one of the reasons that these two schools have only played four times in their histories with Saturday night’s game being just their fifth meeting.

What’s crazy about this series is that this is the fourth regular season game between the two and Cal has seen four different coaches on BYU’s sidelines each time. Pretty notable when you consider how little turnover BYU has at their head coaching post.

Both teams are coming off of Week 1 victories over Power 5 foes and this week’s game is a big one for both as each program is looking to return to the postseason this year.

Cal at BYU

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 8 at 10:15 p.m. ET


Spread: BYU -3

Three Things to Watch

1. Will BYU perform the way the Cougars did in the win over Arizona?

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Last week in Tucson, BYU dominated the Wildcats at the line of scrimmage and had an organized offensive and defensive attack that had Arizona on its heels rallying late in the game to try and rally. BYU got the win against Arizona and now look for another victory against a Pac-12 foe in Cal. BYU was nearly flawless against Arizona in the third quarter, will we see an organized and efficient attack like last week? If the Cougars perform at a high level again, they could be looking at a 2-0 start, something that no one saw coming entering this season.

2. Who will Cal start at quarterback?

In its season-opening win against North Carolina, Cal played three different quarterbacks en route to a 24-17 victory. Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin, who had high flying offensive attacks at Eastern Washington, feels that all three quarterbacks could start and win games for the Golden Bears. Those three quarterback include Ross Bowers, who has the most starting experience and got the nod against the Tar Heels, Chase Garbers and there's also Brandon McIlwain.

3. Cal offense vs. BYU defense

BYU’s defense last week against Arizona was at times exposed, particularly in the secondary. The front seven for BYU is solid and has some future NFL players but the Cougar cornerbacks have been suspect at times. Can Cal’s offense find success with uncertainty at quarterback? We will see. Under Sonny Dykes you would’ve had no worries about Cal’s ability to score, but Justin Wilcox's calling card has always been defense.

Final Analysis

If BYU wants to win, it needs to make the most of its apparent advantage in the trenches. The Cougars have more talent along both their offensive and defensive lines and should be able to push Cal around.

This game is currently a three-point line and I think it’ll hover around that leading up to kickoff, but I feel BYU ultimately comes away with a second straight victory over a Pac-12 team to open the season.

Jeff Grimes, who was named Athlon Spots' Offensive Coordinator of the Week for Week 1, is going to sprinkle in some new play calls that Cal won’t see coming and those could end up being the difference in the game.

Prediction: BYU 30, Cal 26

— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is BYU Insider for ESPN 960 Sports and Publisher of Cougar Nation, part of the Rivals network. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.