Wildcats Host Bears

Tucson, AZ - The Pac 10's only unbeaten team returned to the Top 25 this past week, as California rounded out the latest AP poll.

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The Golden Bears hope to stay ranked and continue pursuing their first conference title in two years on Saturday when they visit Arizona, which is looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made California –2.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on California –2.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

California (4-1, 2-0) hasn't played since a 24-14 win over Arizona State on Oct. 4, but still entered the latest AP poll at No. 25. The Bears were ranked 23rd in the AP's Sept. 7 poll, but a 35-27 loss at Maryland on Sept. 13 knocked them out.

Cal has won two straight since then, however, and appears to be getting close to full strength, as senior Nate Longshore is back at quarterback and running back Jahvid Best is expected to return after missing a game with a dislocated left elbow.

Longshore started for the Bears in 2006 and 2007, but lost his job in training camp this year to Kevin Riley. Cal reopened its quarterback competition after the offense struggled in its last two games, and Longshore emerged victorious.

He passed for 198 yards and three touchdowns in the win over the Sun Devils.

The Bears were without Best against Arizona State after he injured his elbow in their 42-7 win over Colorado State on Sept. 27, but they hope to have the nation's leader with 215.5 all-purpose yards per game, and the Pac-10's second-leading rusher (105.3 ypg) back for this contest.

While Cal's offense is rounding into form, the defense is coming off one of its best games of the season, as it forced three turnovers and limited the Sun Devils to 236 total yards.

"With the defense playing like that, we just have to go out there and make sure we don't waste what they're doing," Longshore said. "As an offense, we need to do better, but every win in a Pac-10 game is special."

Wins in conference play were scarce for Cal a year ago. The Bears were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation, but lost six of their final eight games to finish tied for seventh in the Pac-10.

Cal was ranked sixth in the nation on Sept. 22, 2007 when it opened conference play with a 45-27 win over Arizona (4-2, 2-1).

The Wildcats began conference play in 2008 with wins over UCLA and Washington, but suffered a devastating 24-23 loss last Saturday at Stanford.

After kicking a field goal to go up 23-17 with just under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Arizona allowed the Cardinal to march 65 yards and score the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run with 25 seconds left.

Before the winning score, the Wildcats made two strong fourth-quarter drives that stalled inside the Stanford 5. They had to settle for field goals - a major disappointment for the highest scoring team in the Pac-10 (40.2 points per game).

"We ended up kicking field goals instead of getting touchdowns, and that's something we haven't done all season long,'' said Willi Tuitama, whose Wildcats scored on 25 of their 28 drives that reached inside their opponents' 20 in their first five games. "We definitely should have done better.''

Tuitama finished 22-of-34 for 259 yards against Stanford, but did not throw a touchdown after throwing 13 in his first five games. In last season's loss to Cal, Tuitama threw for 309 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions

The Bears have won four of their last five over Arizona, but the Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings in Tucson.

This will be Arizona's first game of the year against a ranked opponent after going 1-3 against Top 25 teams a year ago.

Top Betting Trends

All games in this series since 1992
CALIFORNIA is 10-4 against the spread versus ARIZONA since 1992
ARIZONA is 8-6 straight up against CALIFORNIA since 1992
4 of 7 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
ARIZONA is 1-1 against the spread versus CALIFORNIA over the last 3 seasons 
ARIZONA is 1-1 straight up against CALIFORNIA over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at ARIZONA since 1992
CALIFORNIA is 4-1 against the spread versus ARIZONA since 1992
ARIZONA is 4-1 straight up against CALIFORNIA since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at ARIZONA over the last 3 seasons.
ARIZONA is 1-0 against the spread versus CALIFORNIA over the last 3 seasons 
ARIZONA is 1-0 straight up against CALIFORNIA over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
(!) [RB] Jahvid Best missed last game %27?%27 - Elbow - 10/04/08
[WR] Marvin Jones is out indefinitely - Knee - 09/23/08
[OL] Chris Guarnero out for the rest of season - Toe - 09/28/08
[OL] Mike Tepper missed last game %27?%27 - Pectoral - 10/04/08
[DE] Rulon Davis is downgraded to miss 6 weeks - Leg - 09/29/08
[DB] Bernard Hicks missed last game %27?%27 - Thigh - 10/04/08
[DL] Kendrick Payne downgraded to out for season - Knee - 09/29/08
No significant injuries.

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Posted: 10/14/08 10:52 PM

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