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Colorado vs. California Football Prediction and Preview

College Football Podcast: Chase Garber

Chase Garbers and the Golden Bears aim for their first Pac-12 win when they host the Buffaloes on Saturday

The Colorado Buffaloes travel to Berkeley for a Pac-12 date with the California Golden Bears on Saturday. The Buffs put an end to their four-game losing streak with an emphatic 34-0 victory over Arizona last week to improve to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play. Cal came up just short in its upset bid at Oregon last Friday, losing 24-17 to fall to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the conference.

Colorado at California

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Spread: California -9

When Colorado Has the Ball

Despite the breakout performance against Arizona, Colorado has struggled offensively and ranks No. 122 nationally in scoring (17.2 ppg). But perhaps the Buffaloes, and specifically quarterback Brendon Lewis, can build on recent success. Lewis completed 12 of 19 pass attempts against the Wildcats for 248 yards (13.1 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns without an interception. Prior to last week’s game, Lewis had thrown for 475 yards (95 per contest) with two touchdowns and two picks. He and Brenden Rice formed an explosive tandem against the Wildcats as Rice gained 111 yards on three catches, including a touchdown. Rice leads the Buffs with 11 receptions and 172 yards.

Lewis also is a gifted runner and ranks third on the team with 130 yards on 48 carries this season, but he wasn't needed for rushing production last week and finished with 11 yards on five attempts. Jarek Broussard is roughly 100 rushing yards per game below his 2020 pace (51.5 rushing yards per game this year after averaging 149.2 last season), but he leads the team with 309 yards on 73 attempts. Alex Fontenot, Colorado's leading rusher in 2019, has 179 yards on 54 attempts. Broussard, Fontenot, and Deion Smith have each scored twice on the ground as well.

When California Has the Ball

The Bears rank No. 104 in the country at 23.0 points per game, but the unit has shown promise. Chase Garbers has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 1,492 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 7.0 yards per attempt, though he has also been intercepted five times. Garbers has distributed the ball to a deep group of receivers, with five players having caught 13 or more passes and gained more than 100 yards. Trevon Clark leads the way with 346 yards on 17 receptions, followed by Jeremiah Hunter's 316 yards on 18 catches and Kekoa Crawford's 306 yards on 20 grabs. Nikko Remigo leads the team with 22 receptions and is tied with Clark and tight end Jake Tonges (13 rec., 172 yds.) for the team lead with two touchdowns.

Garbers also is a weapon on the ground and ranks second on the team with 54 carries, 216 yards, and two scores. Damien Moore has spent most of the season atop the running back depth chart and leads the Bears with 360 yards and five touchdowns on 74 attempts, but Christopher Brooks has come on in recent weeks including 68 yards on 14 carries against Oregon. Brooks, who led the team in rushing in 2019, has 191 yards and a touchdown on 34 attempts.

Final Analysis

Cal may be 1-5 overall and winless in Pac-12 play, but the Bears are better than their record would indicate. In addition to the heartbreaker against Oregon, in which the Golden Bears were stopped on fourth-and-2 at the two-yard line with 0:02 on the clock, Cal lost to Washington in overtime and fell to Nevada and TCU by a combined seven points. Even the loss to Washington State was competitive as the Golden Bears held the Cougars to 21 points. Given Colorado's offensive struggles, including a No. 123 ranking in yards per play (4.35), adjusted for non-garbage time against FBS opponents, No. 127 in points per drive (0.88) in those situations, as well as 119th in success rate (36.2 percent), and 129th in EPA/play (-0.169) even after last week's victory, Cal probably won't need to score much to snap its own losing streak.

Prediction: California 27, Colorado 20

Podcast: Previewing Week 8 + CFB Expansion + Washington State Coaching Search

— Written by Nicholas Ian Allen, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and managing editor of CFBWinningEdge. Follow him on Twitter @CFBWinningEdge.