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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Matchups to watch for

    Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama vs. California pass defense

    Skinny: Tuitama returned to the starting lineup in a 27-17 win over then-No. 25 Washington State on Saturday, completing 10-of-17 passes for 159 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Cal senior cornerback Daymeion Hughes is tied for the national lead with eight interceptions, including two for touchdowns. The Golden Bears rank last in the Pacific 10 Conference in pass defense, allowing 255.7 yards per game, but have intercepted a conference-high 20 throws.

    Advantage: Push. Hughes has been by far the Pac-10’s best cornerback and a candidate for first-team All-America honors, but he alone can’t compensate for a porous defense that is second-worst in the conference in yards allowed (391.4). Tuitama made only one glaring mistake against the Cougars, throwing his interception on a busted play in which he should have taken a sack or an incompletion. He could succeed tomorrow if he gets the type of protection he got Saturday. He simply can’t turn the ball over.

    California running back Marshawn Lynch vs. Arizona run defense

    Skinny: Lynch is the Pac-10 leader in rushing yards with 988 and his nine touchdowns are tied with two other players. Arizona ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in rush defense at 105.8 yards per game. The Wildcats have gotten all their wins this season when holding opponents to 100 or fewer yards on the ground.

    Advantage: Cal. For all the improvement Arizona has shown against the run compared to last season (183.7 yards per game, ninth in the conference), it has not shut out marquee backs. Oregon State’s Yvenson Bernard rushed for 107 yards in a 17-10 win in Arizona Stadium on Oct. 21, and USC freshman Emmanuel Moody finished with 130 yards and a touchdown in the Trojans’ 20-3 victory in Tucson on Sept. 30. Lynch is probably the best back of the three.

    California quarterback Nate Longshore vs. Arizona pass defense

    Skinny: Longshore leads the Pac-10 in pass efficiency, having thrown a conference-best 20 touchdowns against seven interceptions. His 64.5 completion percentage also leads the conference, and his 2,143 passing yards rank second to Washington State’s Alex Brink (2,410). Arizona is fifth in the Pac-10 in pass defense, allowing 203.6 yards per game, and its 10 passing touchdowns allowed are tied for the third fewest in the conference.

    Advantage: Cal. Longshore will prosper because of his able targets. The Golden Bears have a pair of elite wide receivers in sophomore DeSean Jackson (680 receiving yards, 17.4 yards per reception, eight touchdowns) and junior Lavelle Hawkins (558, 15.5, two) and even Lynch (23 receptions, 11.4 yards per catch, four touchdowns) has proved a capable pass-catcher. With Lynch being such a big-time threat on the ground, Arizona should have a hard time keeping track of whom to focus on defensively.

    Prediction: California 31, Arizona 17

    Game Notes

    • Arizona is 23-38-2 all-time when playing on national television. The last time the Wildcats won an ABC-broadcasted contest was on Oct. 7, 2000, when they beat USC 31-15 in Los Angeles.
  • Arizona leads the all-time series with California 12-11-2, despite losing the last three games by a combined score of 108-14.
  • – Compiled by Tom Knauer

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