One of the most captivating weekly shows on Earth looks to deliver another scintillating display as the No. 8 Washington Huskies and their prolific offensive attack host the California Golden Bears.
This will kick off Pac-12 play for both squads. Looking at college football odds, Kalen DeBoer’s Huskies are favored by three touchdowns in Seattle for this Week 4 conference clash.
I’m targeting quarterback Michael Penix Jr.’s player props as he continues his climb up the 2023 Heisman Trophy odds board. I cover that in my best bet section below and provide my full college football picks for California vs. Washington on Saturday, September 23.
California vs Washington best odds
California vs Washington and predictions
It’s difficult to say just how dominant Michael Penix Jr. and this Washington Huskies offense have been. They’re averaging 46.7 points and 614.7 total yards per game on a superb 9.5 yards per play, and it doesn’t seem fluky considering most key pieced from last year’s elite unit returned and the non-conference slate wasn’t exactly filled with cupcakes.
Boise State is perenially one of the Group of 5’s toughest teams, especially defensively, and Michigan State is a Power 5 team (a poor one, sure). Both were lit on fire by Penix and this offense, who have averaged at least 9.1 yards per play in all three games this season. Make no mistake about it — Washington’s offense is one of the best things going on in college football this season.
I’m still not sold on the California Golden Bears defense. They inexplicably finished 128th in success rate a year ago despite playing under a defensive-minded coach in Wilcox. The results have been decent this season, but they have relied on creating turnovers, tying for the national lead with 10 takeaways. Those are notoriously difficult to replicate on a weekly basis, and their ranking of 84th in success rate does not inspire me with much confidence.
New OC Jake Spavital has Cal’s offense absolutely humming pace-wise, ranking second nationally with 80.3 plays per game. That should mean we see a lot of plays in this contest, which is good news for Penix as he looks to rack up more stats for his Heisman bid. He’s down to +500 at DraftKings Sportsbook in the Heisman futures market, which puts him second behind only 2022 winner Caleb Williams in terms of odds.
Penix’s passing yards prop is set at 349.5, and while that might seem high at first glance, I don’t think it’s high enough. He’s averaging 444 passing yards per game this season after leading the nation with 357 a year ago.
The Huskies have all of their top options at receiver and tight end and are in Year 2 of DeBoer’s system. There’s a reason they look even more excellent in 2023 — because they are!
In addition, Washington’s running back room has been hit with the injury bug as starter Cameron Davis was announced out for the season due to injury shortly before Week 1.
New starter Dillon Johnson is still not quite 100% after being slowed in Fall camp and true freshman Tybo Rogers led the team with 15 carries a week ago. The ground game has yet to get going, averaging 121.3 rushing ypg.
All signs point to Penix carrying the offensive workload yet again and he’s in line for yet another big day. This is a home game against an overrated defense that ranked bottom-four in success rate last season, so the veteran lefty should have a productive day at the office.
My best bet: Michael Penix Jr. Over 349.5 passing yards (-114 at FanDuel)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
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California vs Washington same-game parlay
I believe that Penix can hit his passing yards Over regardless of the game script. Washington’s offense is to the point where you have to assume dominance until proven otherwise, or at least until given a strong reason to think differently.
Wilcox and this Cal team have not come close to giving me confidence in changing that approach, so I’m putting together this two-leg SGP featuring my best bet on Penix’s passing yards prop and the Huskies against the spread at -20.5.
The Huskies are fired up with a chance at making a run at the conference title and possibly playing spoiler for a CFP bid if all things go right. I don’t expect them to be challenged in this spot, especially not now that the defense has looked much improved by ranking 21st in EPA per play and sixth in success rate.
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California vs Washington spread and Over/Under analysis
The line currently resides at Washington -20.5 across most books, although a flat -21 is also showing at select locations. As of now, there hasn’t been a strong determination from the market on whether or not this one will cross the key number of three touchdowns.
The total opened at 63 but has since moved down to as low as 59.5 at some locations, although 60.5 is also available.
Cal’s star RB, Jaydn Ott, missed last week against Idaho due to an undisclosed injury, but it sounds like he was held out more as a precaution than anything. He’s expected to return to the field against the Huskies, which is massive news considering he accumulated 1,242 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns as a true freshman last season and looks like the clear focal point of the offense again in 2023.
It’s unclear who will be under center for Spavital’s crew as Sam Jackson V and Ben Finley are listed with an “or” designation between their names on the depth chart. Both have seen action this season but have been called out by head coach Justin Wilcox for their lack of efficiency. Jackson has been banged up multiple times this season (opener against North Texas, late last week against Idaho) so it’s possible we see both QBs in Week 4.
The QB situation doesn’t inspire me with much confidence, but I still think Cal can contribute to the total with a few touchdowns considering Ott and wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter are two workmanlike skill players to rely on in a road matchup. Washington, meanwhile, does nothing but score and rack up points on a weekly basis.
I have a slight lean toward the Over as I disagree with the line movement
California vs Washington betting trend to know
Michael Penix Jr. has thrown for Over 349.5 passing yards in three straight games and in four of his last five.. Find more college football betting trends for California vs Washington.
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California vs Washington game info
|Location:||Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA|
|Date:||Saturday, September 23, 2023|
|Kickoff:||10:30 p.m. ET|
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