After an 1-11 record last season and no FBS wins, the last thing California coach Sonny Dykes was thinking prior to his second season was playing in a bowl. However, with a win over visiting Brigham Young on Saturday, his Golden Bears will complete a five-win improvement over last season - to tie for the third-best turnaround in school history - and indeed be eligible to play in a postseason bowl. One thing for certain Saturday is there will be a lot of scoring, as Cal is second in the talented Pac-12 Conference in scoring at 38.5 points while BYU ranks 34th in FBS at 35.6 points per game.
Cal enters on a two-game losing streak after committing five turnovers and dropping a 38-17 decision to Stanford last week in the 117th Big Game. “We will see what we are made of as a team next week, " Dykes said after the Stanford loss. "We are going to play against a BYU team that is going to be bigger than the team we just played on its offensive and defensive fronts. They are going to have some confidence coming in, and they will feel good about their chances of beating us.” The difference in this game could be the fact that Cal gives up 39 points a game - 121st of 125 FBS schools - while the BYU surrenders 24.4, albeit against weaker competition.
TV: 4:30 p.m. Pac-12 Network, LINE: California -4.5
ABOUT BYU (7-4): The Cougars have rolled their last three opponents by a combined 113-30, but Middle Tennessee, UNLV and Savannah State are a far cry from a Pac-12 foe. During the streak, quarterback Christian Stewart has completed 58-of-94 passes for 837 yards with nine TDs and no interceptions. "Cal is a big game. They're a good team, Pac-12," wide receiver Mitch Mathews said. "They score a lot so we trust our defense and we have to go out and match those points. We're excited to go out and show what we can do." The Cougars do have wins against big schools this season, a 41-7 thrashing of Texas on Sept. 6 and a 41-23 win over Virginia on Sept. 20, but Heisman hopeful Taysom Hill was quarterbacking those games before a foot injury ended his season in early October.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA (5-6): The Bears' defense is actually yielding 44.1 points per contest since Week 3, which ties for worst in FBS over that span, but it's still an improvement over last season's 45.9 points-per-game average. Cal will need another big game from record-setting quarterback Jared Goff, who surpassed his own single-season passing yards record last week (3,580) and has tied the school's TD mark of 31 set by Pat Barnes in 1996. Daniel Lasco needs 15 yards to become the Bears' first 1,000-yard rusher since 2011, and he's scored a touchdown in 10 straight games.
1. California is yielding 509.3 yards per game and 361.8 passing yards – both last in the Pac-12.
2. BYU is also without star running back Jamaal Williams, who was well on his way to a second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaign until a knee injury sidelined him for the season a few weeks ago.
3. Stewart has 17 TD passes against five interceptions in his seven appearances this season, but he hasn't played against a Power-5 Conference team.
PREDICTION: California 42, BYU 28