Sixth-ranked Washington has been plagued by slow starts this season but remains unbeaten entering Saturday’s Pac-12 contest against visiting California. The Huskies scored 35 points after halftime in last Saturday’s 42-7 win over Oregon State, while junior quarterback Jake Browning looks for his second consecutive big effort against the Golden Bears.
Browning passed for 378 yards and matched his career best of six touchdown passes in last season’s 66-27 whipping of Cal. But Washington’s offense hasn’t fully clicked this season despite Browning having completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 1,251 yards and 12 touchdowns against three interceptions. The Golden Bears have dropped back-to-back games after a 3-0 start and first-year coach Justin Wilcox is highly familiar with the offensive philosophies of Washington coach Chris Petersen after serving four seasons (2006-09) as defensive coordinator under Petersen at Boise State. “I just think he’s a good football coach,” Petersen said in a press conference. “I’ve known that for a long time, whether he’s running the defense or a whole team. He knows how to coach the guys, get them going.”
TV: 10:45 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Washington -27.5
ABOUT CALIFORNIA (3-2, 0-2 Pac-12): The Golden Bears have given up 30 or more points on three occasions and allowed a season worst for points in last Saturday’s 45-24 loss at Oregon. One defender playing at a high level is senior inside linebacker Devante Downs, who leads the Pac-12 with 54 tackles, and also has three sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Sophomore quarterback Ross Bowers has passed for 1,357 yards and nine touchdowns but also has been intercepted eight times with junior Vic Wharton III (25 catches, 389 yards) and sophomore Kanawai Noa (24 for 373) being his top receivers.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (5-0, 2-0): Senior Dante Pettis is having a standout receiving campaign with 27 receptions for 368 yards and six touchdowns and also has eight career punt return scores, tied for most in NCAA history with Texas Tech’s Wes Welker (2000-03) and Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins (2001-04). Junior running back Myles Gaskin has posted back-to-back outings of 202 (a career high) and 113 rushing yards and has 468 on the season to go with an impressive 7.1 average. Senior inside linebacker Azeem Victor has just 18 tackles — the preseason All-American had 10 of those in one game — and his suspension for the opener opened the door for junior inside linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, who has a team-high 38 stops.
1. Washington has won seven of the past eight meetings and holds a 54-39-4 series edge.
2. Huskies junior OLB Tevis Bartlett has a team-best 5.5 tackles for loss.
3. Golden Bears sophomore WR Demetris Robertson had season-ending surgery for a lower-body injury.
PREDICTION: Washington 51, California 21