Chances are, most people aren’t going to stay awake until 10:30 ET to watch two unranked Pac-12 teams -- who might or might not be playing in the postseason -- on a non-national network this Saturday night.
That’s a darn shame.
Because while there are plenty of match ups that have national-title and conference-race implications (No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 12 Misssissippi State, No. 3 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 4 Oklahoma at No. 25 TCU, No. 14 Stanford at No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 15 LSU at No. 5 Auburn, No. 19 Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State ... to name a few) Washington State-California might be the most exciting game this weekend that no one is talking about.
Here are five reasons why you should stay up and find a way to watch.
1. Quarterback firepower.
My apologies to Dak Prescott and Kenny Hill, but this is likely going to be the most impressive output from two quarterbacks on a single field this weekend. And yes, California QB Jared Goff and Colorado QB Sefo Liufau combined for 913 passing yards and 14 touchdown passes last weekend, but this weekend's pairing is even better. Goff is going to be on the same field as Connor Halliday, who makes 458 yards -- what Goff threw for last weekend -- look like a run-of-the-mill Saturday (he’s averaging 464 passing yards per game this season). Could we see the 1,000 combined passing-yard threshold broken? Absolutely. Could we see 110 pass attempts? Possibly. This game is going to have opportunity after opportunity for big plays from these quarterbacks and their wide receivers (and defensive backs who want to prove themselves).
2. Speaking of Goff ...
Most of the preseason was spent hyping up the quarterbacks who headline this conference -- the Marcus Mariota's, the Brett Hundley's, the Sean Mannion's, the Halliday's. Well, those guys aren’t going to be playing in the Pac-12 next year. But Goff? He’s got another two years in Berkeley. He already has Cal at triple its win total from a year ago and has made major strides from his freshman to his sophomore season. Imagine the leaps and bounds he’ll make to his junior and senior seasons. And rather than jumping on the “Hey, this kid is really good,” bandwagon then, wouldn’t you like to see where the foundation is being built? He’s going to be a QB you love or love to hate (if he’s beating up on your teams in the coming years), so get to know him now.
Cal coach Sonny Dykes and Washington State coach Mike Leach both come from the school of Hal Mumme. Leach was the offensive coordinator under Mumme at Kentucky from 1997-98. In 1997 Dykes was a graduate assistant and tight ends coach at Kentucky and in 1999 he coached the special teams and wide receivers. When Leach left for Texas Tech in 2000, he brought Dykes with him. From 2000-2006 Dykes was the wide receiver coach and co-offensive coordinator (2005-06), so if you’re a fan of Mumme, the Air Raid, or passing in general, there’s no game that’ll better display those aspects than Cal-Washington State. “We all have our roots in the Air Raid,” Dykes said. “Mike has done a great job of scoring points and moving the ball. He does it year after year after year. ... All of our roots come from the same place.” Everyone loves a good storyline, and because of how well these two coaches know each other and their offenses, there’s a good chance we’re going to see some really interesting play-calling.
4. You’re going to want to know these teams even if you're not a fan of them
Down the road, Cal has Oregon, Stanford, Washington and USC. Washington State, on the other hand, has Stanford, USC and Arizona State. Chances are one of these two teams could throw a wrench into someone's Pac-12 title hopes. Stanford and Arizona State already have conference losses to their names and USC has shown how much of a Jekyll-Hyde team it really is. Oregon hasn’t stumbled yet, but there are areas to exploit, especially with a patchwork offensive line. That being said, the Cougars or Golden Bears could be a deciding factor into which teams make it to the Pac-12 title game even if they don't contend for it themselves.
5. You should Tweet/Facebook/text about it.
Because if you do, you can help grow Leach’s fear for the end of humanity as we know it. And who doesn’t want to jump on that bandwagon?