Prediction: Texas Tech 35 - Cal 27
Prediction this game is tough for many reasons. First of all, I haven't really spent a ton of time paying attention to Cal football this year. In fact, I was almost convinced that the people in Berkeley had shut down the program to divert those funds to environmental research and social justice causes.
They did play football at Cal this year, though, and it was a wild ride. After going just 3-6 to start the year, the Golden Bears rallied to beat a good Washington State team and two bad opponents in Stanford and UCLA to get to six wins.
Still, Cal isn't a very good team. Granted, they did play in a tough PAC-12 this year, a conference that could be argued to have been the deepest in the country in 2023.
The Cal defense is suspect, and that could be their fatal flaw toinght. They have given up 50 points on four occasions and on two more they surrendered 34 and 39.
Interestingly, though, Cal has given up only 134.8 yards per game on the ground. That's 41st in the nation. That might be because they are 129th nationally against the pass at 283.7 yards per game, though.
In the end, I am a believer in Behren Morton, and tonight, I'm excited to see him play at as close to 100% as he'll be since September. I know he won't have his full complement of receivers and I know he won't be asked to be the second coming of B.J. Symons to win this game but he should be unleashed quite a bit more than he was for much of this season.
Still, I think this game will be decided not by the running backs but by which modestly-performing QB can rise up. Morton was held down by a nagging injury this year whereas Mendoza was simply being protected by his coaching staff's scheme. In the end, Morton has a much higher ceiling and I think he plays the better game.
Ultimately, Tech has the slightly better defense and that will give Morton and the offense just enough margin for error to secure a one-score win. If that happens, Tech will win its third-straight Bowl game for the first time since 2004-2007 and enter the offseason with some positivity.