The Cal game always scares the living hell out of me. Outside of the inexplicable 2009 beatdown at Autzen, lets have a look at this history of the game since 2003:
2003: ORE 21, CAL 17;
2004: CAL 28, ORE 27
2005: ORE 27, CAL 20, OT
2006: CAL 45, ORE 24
2007: CAL 31, ORE 24
2008: CAL 26, ORE 16
2010: ORE 15, CAL 13
Its not a great track record outside of the one year.
TOP FIVE REASONS CALIFORNIA WILL BEAT OREGON:
1. The confidence of last season: In the Chip Kelly era, last year's Cal team was the only conference team that has shut down Chip Kelly's offense. Yes, many of the key players have been lost such as Cameron Jordan and Chris Conte. But this team hasn't forgotten about last season, and their rush defense has been stout this season. The Bears won't be scared of Oregon--and that is the first giant step in the march to victory.
2. The competent offense: Although the defense was dominant last season, Cal was ultimately unable to win because their Brock Mansion led offense was completely inept. That won't be the case this season, as Zach Maynard has two elite receivers to throw to and the running game is enough of a thread to provide balance. Oregon's defense is largely untested, and if the Cal defense was slow the Oregon offense, the Bears should put up enough points to have a shot.
3. Oregon's lack of playmaking receivers: Cal completely shut down the Oregon run game last season, and will likely sell out to stop the run again this season. Oregon's best receiver, Lavasier Tuinei, has been merely average this season; while Justin Hoffman and Will Murphy have statistically been the worst in the conference.
4. Cal is coming off a bye week: According to the experts on ESPN, this means Oregon will lose because other teams have time to solve their gimmicks.
5. The revenge of Juju: The cult of Juju was born in the days leading up to Oregon's 42-3 beatdown at Autzen in '09. After the NCG last season, we've abandoned Juju en masse. What better game for Juju to craft his revenge?
TOP FIVE REASONS OREGON WILL BEAT CALIFORNIA:
1. The game is at Autzen: Chip Kelly has never lost a game at Autzen as head coach. When he does, it will be to a team far more elite than Cal's current squad. Oregon is simply a different team at home.
2. Darron Thomas won't have an off game again: Darron Thomas played very poorly last season vs. the Bears, making several bad reads and missing open receivers. He won't have a game that poor again.
3. Cal can't fake injuries this time around: I'm not going to say that Cal faking several injuries had anything to do with their defensive success, but Cal faking injuries played a role in their defensive success. This is a national spotlight game, and last year's antics will be one of the big storylines. Cal will not get away with repeating this strategy.
4. Oregon's talented defense is ready to come together: Oregon's defensive line finally had a good game against Arizona. Cliff Harris looks to return to major playing time. Terrance Mitchell and Troy Hill both been very solid, while Anthony Gildon and John Boyett have been stellar. With Kiko Alonso fully integrated, and Michael Clay looking to return, Oregon has its full bevy of playmakers ready for the first time this season. This defense is as talented as any group in the Pac-12. Coming off a bye week, they may finally be ready to put it all together.
5. Oregon is just flat out a better team: They're not a 23.5 point favorite for no reason.