One top 10 team has already gone down on a freaky Friday night, could another upset be brewing in Berkeley? Based on the first half, it sure seems like it.
In smoky conditions not far from the Northern California fires, Cal came out sharp and played well on both sides of the ball to take a 17-3 lead over No. 8 Washington State into halftime and grab the inside track to their biggest conference victory in a long time.
While you would think the offense was the one powering the upset bid, it was actually Justin Wilcox’s defense that did the trick. The Bears picked off Luke Falk on the Cougars’ first drive and didn’t stop there, recording a missed field goal, forcing a fumble and managing a three-and-out on the following three possessions. Cal took advantage of that play too, going up two-scores to take a lead into the second quarter for the first time this season.
The ground game wasn’t much to write home about for the offense but signal-caller Ross Bowers did throw for 159 yards and a score despite facing constant pressure on every drop back.
His counterpart knows all about that pressure, getting sacked four times and throwing two picks on a night where Falk topped the 13,000 yard mark in his passing career. The Cougars did hold onto the ball for over 20 minutes and mounted several promising drives but the turnovers and mental mistakes kept them from making things close numerous times.
As a result, head coach Mike Leach was caught by cameras lighting into his team on a night where it seems some of them were just going through the motions. That’s part of the recipe to get upset and Cal is certainly obliging by taking their shot to make things extremely interesting on a unique Bay Area night.