Cal and Washington are the only two programs that have been a member of what is now the Pac-10 Conference in each and every year since the league was established in 1916 and will be playing one another for the 9st time late this fall in Berkeley.
Washington is 47-38-4 overall against the Golden Bears. Washington had a 19 game winning streak against the Bears which ended in 2002. Washington has only beaten the Bears twice since then but UW is 2-1 over the last three seasons against Cal.
Jeff Tedford has kept the Bears in the upper tier of the conference most of the decade but they still haven't picked up that elusive Rose Bowl berth. He is beginning to get some criticism for that in Berkeley even though his tenure has been representative of a golden age for Cal football.
Another interesting factoid is this will be the last game in old Memorial Stadium before it is retrofitted and remodeled over the next two years. If you have never been to a game in Berkeley this would be the year to go so you can get the flavor of this mini Rose Bowl built directly over the Hayward Fault line. The views of the bay and bridges are just remarkable making it my second favorite stadium in the Pac 10.
Cal started like gang busters last season before hitting a wall against Oregon and USC losing by a cumulative 72-6 score! For California to avoid a similar experience in 2009 they need better play out of the QB position and a better performance out of a porous defensive secondary
At QB Sr Kevin Riley returns after completing 209-of-382 for 2,850 yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in 2009. He will be pushed by So Beau Sweeney who had a good spring. Having a senior starter is usually a good thing for a football program so maybe Riley is ready to blossom.
Jr Shane Vereen is an elite running back who rushed for 952 yards and 12 scores on 183 carries in 2009 subbing for Jahvid Best. He also caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns.Vereen is a complete player and that will compete for national honors this season.
The Bears have some talent at receiver. Jr Marvin Jones 43 catches for 651 yards and six TD's while having a breakout year in 2009. Jr Alex Lageman specializes in working the middle of the field. JR TE Anthony Miller gives caught 26 passes for 357 yards last season.
Cal returns four starters on an offensive line that knows how to run block. So Matt Summers-Garvin is moving to left tackle. Jr Mitchell Schwartz who has the ability to be dominating is lining up on the right. Sr Chris Guarnero is one of the better centers in the conference. Jr Justin Cheadle and So Brian Schwenke will line up beside him at the guard positions.
Jeff Tedford hired veteran NFL assistant Clancy Pendergast to upgrade his defense. Cal will still rely on a 3-4 but the plan is to be more aggressive with stunts and blitzes to add more pressure.
On the defensive line Jr Trevor Gutyon will be filling the shoes of Tyson Alualu who moved on to the NFL at DE. Guyton has plenty of experience and is expected to do a good job. Sr Cameron Jordan will line up on the other side after ringing up 48 tackles, 9.5 for loss, and 6 sacks in 2009. Sr Derrick Hill returns at NG. There is solid depth behind the starters so Call looks strong up front.
At linebacker the Bears look solid inside led by Sr Mike Mohamed and Jr DJ Holt. On the outside SR OLB Keth Browner returns at OLB and So Chris little is the newcomer at WLB.
Cal loses three starters from the secondary but the new starters do have experience. Jr safety Sean Cattouse started half of 2009. Sr S Chris Conte had 25 tackles last season. Sr Darian Hagan and Sr Bryant Nnabuife are the favorites to win the corner positions.
Washington vs California
The early line on a distant game like this is easy...you take the home team by three points. The game is being played in Berkeley so advantage Bears.
Washington has the edge at QB, WR, and overall depth at the skill positions. The offensive lines seem to be pretty evenly matched. Neither of these teams appear to be world beaters on defense but UW has an edge with quality depth in the secondary.
I have to go with Washington in this one. The Huskies dominated Cal last season and even though this one is on the road I can see Washington pulling out a narrow win in the fourth quarter.