One of the top rivalries in the Pac 12 takes center stage this week as the Cal Golden Bears visit the Stanford Cardinal. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST on Saturday, November 18 at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California. The game will be nationally televised on Fox.
No. 22 Stanford is listed as a 16-point favorite at home with an over/under of 55.5 points. Click here for a full list of Week 12 betting odds and links to game previews.
Cal vs Stanford Game Preview & Betting Odds
The Golden Bears are still fighting just to get to a bowl game, and they would love nothing more than to clinch a bowl spot against their rivals. Last week’s win over Oregon State was only Cal’s second in conference play this season, so it’s been a long couple of months in Berkeley.
The Bears are only alive for a bowl because of non-conference wins over Ole Miss and North Carolina, two teams that have been a disappointment this season. Cal now needs a win over Stanford or at UCLA next week or they’ll miss a bowl game for the fifth time in six years.
The Cardinal, meanwhile, are fresh off an upset over Washington last week that has kept their conference title hopes alive. If Stanford holds serve against Cal, they will lock up at least a share of the Pac-12 North division, and if Washington can beat Washington State next week, the Cardinal will play in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Of course, these two teams have a long and storied rivalry, including the infamous “band on the field” game. Stanford has won their last seven games against Cal, a streak they would like to continue with so much on the line.
College Football Free Pick Against the Spread: Stanford -16
It’s tough to swallow this many points in a rivalry game, but I think that Stanford is head and shoulders above Cal right now. The Cardinal have so much on the line that they’ll be able to avoid a hangover after last week’s win and take care of business against the Bears. I believe the Cardinal can win this game by 20-plus points and cover the spread.
To be fair, Stanford had a few rough weeks not too long ago. But that was when Heisman contender Bryce Love was either absent or not at 100%. He looked pretty close to 100% last week against Washington, getting 30 carries for 166 yards and three touchdowns. With Love at full strength, Stanford will be able to move the ball and control the clock against Cal.
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Outside of their upset against Washington State, the Golden Bears have struggled defensively all season. Most teams have been able to move the ball against them, particularly on the ground. With the way Stanford can win at the line of scrimmage, that trend should continue. The Cardinal will be able to lean on Love and not worry about their inconsistent play at quarterback.
Cal’s best chance in this game may be to keep up with Stanford in a shootout. Of course, that strategy hasn’t worked in previous games. Quarterback Ross Bowers has had a productive season. But against many of the better defenses in the Pac 12, he’s been inaccurate and turnover-prone. With the Bears having a lackluster running game, I have doubts about Cal’s offense being able to sustain drives against Stanford’s defense.
This is definitely a lot of points to cover, but with Love at full strength, I’ll take my chances with Stanford. The Cardinal are undoubtedly the better team and that will become evident over the course of 60 minutes.