Colorado vs. Cal College Football Odds, Betting Picks: Back Bears to Run All Over Buffaloes (Saturday, Oct. 23)

Colorado vs. Cal College Football Odds, Betting Picks: Back Bears to Run All Over Buffaloes (Saturday, Oct. 23) article feature image

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  • The Cal Bears and Colorado Buffaloes face off in Saturday afternoon Pac-12 conference football action on Oct. 23.
  • Cal hasn't defeated a FBS team this season, but college football betting analyst Roberto Arguello explains why that should change today vs. Colorado.
  • Read on for Arguello's full college football betting preview for Cal vs. Colorado, including odds, picks, and predictions for the game.

Colorado vs. Cal Odds

Saturday, Oct. 23
3:30 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
Colorado Odds
-112o / -109u
Cal Odds
-112o / -109u
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Colorado Buffaloes travel to Berkeley to face the California Golden Bears in a game between two Pac-12 programs desperate for a win.

The Buffaloes and Golden Bears have combined to beat just one FBS team so far this season (Colorado beat Arizona 34-0 last week), but that lone win came against one of only two winless FBS teams this season (the other, besides Arizona, is UNLV).

Colorado impressed (at least defensively) in its 10-7 home loss to Texas A&M in Week 2, but since then, it has lost three consecutive games decided by three scores or more. It did manhandle lowly Arizona last week, but the Wildcats' starting quarterback went out for the season the week before.

Cal enters this matchup at 1-5 with its lone win over FCS Sacramento State. However, the Golden Bears have had four of their five losses, including at Oregon last week, come by one score or fewer.

The Golden Bears are at home this week, facing the worst FBS team on their schedule. So, will they finally win a game in the conference and cover the spread, or will the maddening one-score loss trend continue?

Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado Offense

If the offense steps up and Colorado wins outright or covers, it will be because the running game improves to help out freshman quarterback Brendon Lewis.

The Colorado offense is predicated on running the football, and so far, it hasn't been able to do that consistently this season. In three Pac-12 games, the Buffaloes have rushed for a combined 3.11 yards per carry as the offensive line ranks 110th in Rush Success Rate and 103rd in Line Yards.

The good news for Colorado is that it faces a Cal defense that ranks outside the top 90 in both Rush Success Rate (92) and Line Yards (98). The Buffs need to get a push up front to help their inexperienced quarterback.

Lewis has struggled as a freshman. He has started all six games this season but has recorded a QBR of 46 or lower in every start (for reference, QBR is on a scale of 1-100, where 50 is average).

The offensive line also has struggled to protect Lewis as it ranks 116th in Pass Blocking and 116th in Pass Success Rate.

Outside of last week’s win against Arizona (where the Buffs had two combined scores on special teams and defense), they haven’t scored more than 14 points against an FBS team this season.

Colorado Defense

Despite ranking 122nd in Pass Rush, the Colorado defense ranks a respectable 53rd in Pass Success Rate Allowed this season.

If it somehow pulls the upset, it will be because it stops the run on early downs and forces Chase Garbers and the Cal offense to make plays through the air on third downs.

The Buffs need to force the Golden Bears into third-and-long consistently, or else the Cal offense that ranks 32nd in Rush Success Rate and first in Line Yards will have their way and move the chains on third downs.

The Buffs will also likely need to create some turnovers and improve on the 94th national ranking in Havoc created.

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California Golden Bears

Cal Offense

If the Cal offense doesn’t allow Colorado to create Havoc plays, the Golden Bears should win this game and cover.

The Cal offense doesn’t need to do anything fancy against this Colorado team. The Golden Bears should be able to run the ball all day with their underrated offensive line that ranks first nationally in Line Yards.

They should run the ball early and often against this Colorado defense that ranks 116th in PFF tackling. They need to force Colorado to prove it can stop the run before they ask the consistently inconsistent Garbers to make plays through the air.

Expect the Bears to establish the run and then let Garbers use play-action to hit big-play receiver Kekoa Crawford downfield and Nikko Remigio on crossing routes to bust open the Colorado defense.

Cal Defense

The Cal defense simply needs to stop the run against Colorado and it will be successful.

Colorado won’t throw the ball downfield often with Lewis leading the offense and it will rely on its rushing attack to shorten the game and try to create a field position battle with Cal.

If the Golden Bears can stop the Colorado rushing offense on early downs, they will win and cover. Colorado’s offense is one of the worst in the country at converting third downs as it ranks 114th nationally with a 32.4% conversion rate — just one spot below Kansas.

Cal is relatively young at the middle linebacker positions, so if those younger players step up, it will pick up its first conference win.

Colorado vs. Cal Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Colorado and Cal match up statistically:

Colorado Offense vs. Cal Defense
Rush Success11092
Line Yards10398
Pass Success11686
Pass Blocking**11667
Big Play9787
Finishing Drives5229
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Cal Offense vs. Colorado Defense
Rush Success3264
Line Yards176
Pass Success8453
Pass Blocking**55122
Big Play95122
Finishing Drives7169
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling116118
Middle 839111
SP+ Special Teams5669
Plays per Minute10669
Rush Rate66.3% (9)47.3% (112)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Colorado vs. Cal Betting Pick

Colorado ranks ninth nationally in rush rate (66.3%), but this is more because they are afraid of letting Lewis throw the ball rather than because running the ball is a strength.

The Colorado offense has been a trainwreck this season. Although the Buffs did beat a hapless Arizona team without its only capable starting quarterback, they were only up, 6-0, at halftime and got two non-offensive touchdowns to make the score look more lopsided than it actually was.

The Cal offense that ranks first nationally in Line Yards should have enough success running the ball against Colorado to win this game comfortably. If Garbers doesn’t turn the ball over, this could be a rout.

Expect the Golden Bears to come out fired up at home and get their first win over an FBS team this week.

I love Cal at -8 on the spread, and I will gladly bet this down to -13.5.

While I will be betting Cal on the spread, I also like the value on the alternate spread at -13.5 (+175), as I don’t see Colorado putting up much more than 10 points in this matchup.

Pick: Cal -8 (Play to -13.5)

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