Oregon Ducks at California Golden Bears: 5 Things to Know
If you are a fan of seeing an offensive explosion, then you are in for a treat, as the California Golden Bears will welcome the Oregon Ducks in a Friday night clash at the new Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
California has surprised many to start the season, as the Bears offense led by Sophomore Jared Goff has been spectacular. However in the past few weeks, Cal has come back to Earth as they have suffered two devastating losses at home, and will be challenged by the high-flying Ducks of Oregon.
Oregon has rebounded from an early season loss to Arizona, and has played superbly the last few weeks in blowout wins over UCLA and Washington. Oregon has found their offensive rhythm with Heisman contending Quarterback Marcus Mariota leading the way.
Oregon and Cal have a long history of tremendous match-ups, and here are five things to watch for on Friday night:
Marcus Mariota and Jared Goff – Oregon and California have two extremely talented Quarterbacks; one is a sure fire top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the other is a rising talent with a cannon for an arm. Marcus Mariota of Oregon has been that strong leader for the past few seasons in Eugene, and is primed to take his talents to the next level. Jared Goff of Cal is an up-and-coming talent that has a powerful arm, and is fast developing his game at the highest of levels. Mariota is already at the top level of the collegiate game with his superior athletic ability, and his leadership. Mariota has been characterized as having the “It” factor; that he possesses the intangibles to lead by example, and will be a force into the future. Jared Goff is still raw, and makes mistakes, but has a tremendous upside that should lead Cal for the next few years. Look for both Quarterbacks to put up monster offensive statistics and dazzle the crowd on Friday night.
Oregon Rush Attack – Oregon has arguably some of the most talented running backs in all of college football. A recent stat from College Gameday noted that the Ducks are 57-0 when rushing for over 240 yards in a game since 2007. The Oregon ground game is led by the three-headed monster of Royce Freeman, Thomas Tyner, and Byron Marshall that have blistered the competition for gaining over 1500 yards so far this season as a group. Do not forget, Quarterback Marcus Mariota is not afraid to call his own number, and has been extremely effective in the run game. If the Bears are to have any chance at stopping this high profile rush attack, they will have to contain the Ducks run game.
Bears Defense Needs To Show Some Teeth – The Golden Bears defense has been best described as suspect all season. The Bears have not played a complete game on the defensive side of the ball, and will need to put on a stellar performance in hopes of just containing the Ducks “Quack Attack”. This season, the Bears have shown signs of brilliance with Linebacker Hardy Nickerson leading the way, but they have also shown signs of complete disarray. Granted, the Golden Bears are young, and are still trying to find their way as a group, but they will need to bind together quickly as the Ducks will show no mercy on Friday night.
Best Matchup – The matchup of the night will be one that may showcase future stars at the next level with California Wide Receiver Bryce Treggs and Oregon Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olumu. Ekpre-Olumu is a true shutdown cornerback with his tremendous coverage skills, and tenacious style. Ekpre-Olumu’s playing style is similar to that of standout Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Richard Sherman as he is fierce around the ball, and sticks to his targets like glue. Treggs is a legacy at California, and is fast developing a reputation of making tremendous plays on the field. Treggs will give Ekrpe-Olumu his biggest test of the season this weekend.
Coaching – Oregon Ducks Head Coach Mark Helfrich has continued on the extremely impressive run in Eugene, and is striving to take the Ducks to the next level. Helfrich has been able to weather the storm of critics, and kept the program at an elite level after the departure of much heralded former Head Coach Chip Kelly. California Head Coach Sonny Dykes is trying to revive a program that has toiled in mediocrity the past few seasons, and bring it back to its past glory. Dykes has done a tremendous job in the development of several key players including Quarterback Jared Goff, but his style has not fully caught on with the Golden Bears. Dykes has been highly criticized this season with several questionable decisions, and will need a few big wins to keep his position in Berkeley.