Washington vs. Cal: Betting Odds & Picks: Buy Low on Golden Bears

Washington vs. Cal: Betting Odds & Picks: Buy Low on Golden Bears article feature image

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Plummer (Cal)

  • Cal hosts Washington in a Pac-12 After Dark affair.
  • The Bears lost to lowly Colorado last week, but are looking to get back on track at home.
  • Stuckey previews the game and shares his best bet below.

Washington vs. Cal Odds

Saturday, Oct. 22
10:30 p.m. ET
Washington Odds
-110o / -110u
Cal Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Cal will head home after suffering a horrific loss at winless Colorado.

Meanwhile, Washington will look to pick up its first road win (0-2) of the season. A victory would move the Huskies to 3-2 in league play. This is a must-win game if they want to keep their slim Pac-12 title hopes alive.

In last year's meeting, Washington held on in overtime after forcing a Cal fumble at the goal line. This series has been super competitive in recent seasons, with the Bears winning the two prior matchups by a combined three points.

Will Cal bounce back after last week, or will Washington's high-powered attack be too much for the host? Let's take a closer look at each team before breaking this down from a betting perspective.

Washington Huskies

After last year's disastrous campaign, Washington hired a new head coach in Kalen DeBoer, who held the same job at Fresno State.

The Huskies also brought in a new quarterback via the transfer portal in Michael Penix Jr. — who thrived at Indiana in 2019 under the tutelage of then offensive coordinator DeBoer.

The reuniting of DeBoer and Penix has led to one of the most remarkable offensive turnarounds in the country. Penix leads the nation in passing yards for one of the nine offenses in the country that averages at least 42 points per game.

That's almost double the output of Washington's 21.5-point scoring average in 2021, which ranked 108th nationally.

While the offense has received all rave reviews this season, the same can't be said for the defense, which ranks outside the top 100 in EPA per Play and Success Rate.

The secondary has particularly struggled after losing three starters to the NFL, ranking in the bottom 10 nationally in many metrics. There are major holes on that side of the ball, which likely means the Huskies will need to continue winning shootouts.

California Golden Bears

Similar to Washington, the Bears hit the transfer portal for new quarterback Jack Plummer, who also came out west from the Big Ten.

The former Purdue signal-caller had the task of replacing four-year starter Chase Garbers, who is now with the Raiders.

Plummer has had an up-and-down start to the season and doesn't bring the running ability that Garbers possessed, which bailed out the Cal offense countless times in recent seasons.

However, that's where the similarities end for these polar opposite clubs — outside of higher than average pass rates.

While Washington has an explosive spread offense that uses tempo, Cal has a struggling West Coast offense that moves at a methodical pace.

Defensively, the Huskies can't stop a nosebleed, while the Bears have a very reliable albeit unspectacular unit.

Cal really lacks explosive weapons on the outside that can take the top off opposing defenses.

Additionally, its offensive line really struggles in pass protection, ranking 121st in Sack Rate on Passing Downs. That usually doesn't end well for the statuesque Plummer.

Washington vs. Cal Matchup Analysis

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

Washington Offense vs. Cal Defense
Rush Success26102
Line Yards8188
Pass Success968
Pass Blocking**8130
Finishing Drives525
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Cal Offense vs. Washington Defense
Rush Success8872
Line Yards6084
Pass Success112102
Pass Blocking**11633
Finishing Drives87115
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling1583
PFF Coverage10758
SP+ Special Teams3364
Seconds per Play25.4 (39)27.4 (89)
Rush Rate43.0% (121)44.4% (117)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Washington vs. Cal Betting Pick

This is a prime buy-low spot on California after its embarrassing loss at winless Colorado.

I honestly wasn't even that shocked by that result, with Colorado becoming the latest team to rally around a mid-season coaching change in 2022. Plus, Cal has been inconsistent all season.

The Bears also always plays to the level of its competition under head coach Justin Wilcox. In fact, last week marked the third time in the past five years that Cal lost to a team that started 0-5 or worse.

Good morning Cal fans.

Justin Wilcox drops to 0-3 against teams that started the season 0-5 or worse, averaging 7.7 points per game.

2018: 0-5 UCLA, 7-37
2021: 0-8 Arizona, 3-10
2022: 0-5 Colorado, 13-20

— Avinash Kunnath (@avinashkunnath) October 16, 2022

How did the Bears respond after both of those previous bad losses?

  • 2018: Won at Oregon State by 42
  • 2021: Won at Stanford by 30

I'm not saying they will blow out the Huskies. However, I do believe this is a perfect bounce-back spot in a game I show value in the home dog based on my raw power ratings.

For what it's worth, home conference dogs that lost outright as double-digit favorites the week prior have hit at a 63% clip since 2005.

We should get Cal's best effort in this spot. The Bears also may have revenge on their minds after last season's aforementioned overtime loss in cruel fashion.

Covering over a touchdown in conference play on the road is a tall task for this reeling Washington defense. In its only two road games, Washington lost outright to Arizona State (+13.5) and UCLA (+2.5), with both reaching the 40-point mark.

Cal's West Coast offense can get stuck in the mud way too often, but should have enough success in this particular matchup to keep pace with the Huskies.

Meanwhile, its top-40 defense can limit explosive passing plays, which is the optimal way to slow down Washington's aerial attack. The Bears also excel in the Finishing Drives department.

Lastly, Cal head coach Wilcox boasts an impressive 22-9-1 ATS (71%) record as an underdog, covering by an average margin of 4.4 points per game. That includes an absurd 16-3 ATS (84.2%) mark when catching seven-plus points (6-0 at home).

In contrast, he's just 8-15-1 ATS (34.8%) as a favorite. Those splits reiterate my earlier point of Cal consistently playing to its level of competition under Wilcox.

Give me the Bears to play up in this spot and at least stay within one possession in this Pac-12 After Dark clash of styles.

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