BERKELEY, Calif. - California’s quarterback situation is becoming clearer with each win as coach Justin Wilcox prepares his team for the start of Pac-12 play on Sept. 29 against Oregon. Redshirt freshman Chase Garbers will share time with sophomore Brandon McIlwain on Saturday when the Bears host FCS-member Idaho State, which has never beaten a Pac-12 opponent.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: None
Ross Bowers started Cal’s season-opening win over North Carolina but has been replaced by the duo of Garbers and McIlwain, who combined to go 23-for-35 for 214 yards in last Saturday’s 21-18 win over BYU – including 119 rushing yards on 21 carries. Wilcox likes the mobility that Garbers and McIlwain bring to an offense led by running back Patrick Laird, who set a career high with seven catches for 53 yards and a score against the Cougars. Cal’s defense continues to impress with six interceptions through its first two games, giving the team reason to believe they could surprise in the Pac-12 North. The opportunistic defense should have little trouble containing Idaho State, which opened its season with a 45-10 win over Division II Western State on Aug. 31.
ABOUT IDAHO STATE (1-0)
Tanner Gueller was 17-of-27 for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception while James Madison carried the ball 19 times for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Western State. Mitch Gueller added four catches for 81 yards and a TD for the Bengals, who were picked to finish 12th in the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches’ poll. The defense held Western State to 135 total yards behind interceptions by Caleb Brown and Kennon Smith along with Paea Moala’s career-high 13 tackles.
ABOUT CAL (2-0)
Wide receiver Kanawai oa had seven catches and 93 yards in the win over BYU, but the offense was overshadowed by the play of the defensive unit, led by safety Jaylinn Hawkins (three interceptions on the season) and inside linebacker Evan Weaver. A junior from Washington, Weaver is third in the Pac-12 in tackles (26) and tied for fourth in pass breakups (three). “He’s a tough guy, man,” Wilcox told reporters. “Weaves is a throwback. He loves playing. He loves contact. He’s trying to make every tackle. That’s awesome. You love that about him.”
1. Cal is 9-0 against FCS opponents – including a 73-14 win over Grambling State in 2015.
2. Idaho State snapped a 27-game losing streak to FBS schools with its 30-28 victory at Nevada on Sept. 16, 2017.
3. Cal has held its first two opponents to a combined three points in the first half.
PREDICTION: Cal 51, Idaho State 12
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