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November 26, 2010

Scouting the Huskies' opponent: California Golden Bears

A brief scouting report on the Washington Huskies' next opponent: The California Golden Bears.

Kickoff: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Pacific time, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.

Record: 5-6 overall, 3-5 Pac-10.

Season review: The Golden Bears started the season strong but have lost three of their past four games to put their bid for a school-record eighth consecutive bowl berth in jeopardy. Cal has suffered rare consecutive home losses the past two weeks to No. 1 Oregon and No. 7 Stanford -- the first time that's happened since 2002.

What's at stake: Cal must win this regular season finale to become bowl eligible. Adding to the emotional impact is that this will be the final game at Memorial Stadium before a major renovation and it's also Senior Night for the Golden Bears. Cal will play its home games next season at AT&T Park in San Francisco then return to Memorial Stadium in 2012.

Homefield advantage: Cal is 37-8 (.822 winning percentage) in its last 45 games at Memorial Stadium, its home since 1923. The Golden Bears have had home crowd of 50,000 or more every game for the past seven seasons.

The series: Washington leads the all-time series, 47-38-4, including a 42-10 victory in Seattle last season. Cal, however, has won the past three meetings in Berkeley.

The coach: Jeff Tedford is in his ninth season at Cal. He is 6-2 lifetime against Washington, including a 3-0 record at Memorial Stadium. Cal had lost 19 in a row to Washington from 1977-2001 upon Tedford's arrival in Berkeley.

The impact players: Cal's defense is ferocious, ranked No. 2 in the Pac-10 and No. 1 against the pass. Cal has 30 sacks, which is ranked No. 13 in the country.

Linebacker Mike Mohamed, a preseason Playboy All-American, averages 8.1 tackles per game (fifth best in the conference). Another highly-touted defender is lineman Cameron Jordan, a candidate for the Ted Hendricks Award.

More defenders having big seasons include linebacker Mychal Kendricks, D.J. Holt and defensive back Chris Conte.

Offensively, the Golden Bears have relied heavily on running back Shane Vereen, who is having a big year. Vereen has rushed for 1,061 yards and scored 13 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He reportedly could skip his senior year and enter the 2011 NFL draft.

Cal's run reliance is partly because of its quarterback situation. Brock Mansion has started the past three games at quarterback after Kevin Riley suffered a season-ending injury against Oregon State.


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