Northwestern - Cal TV viewer guide
Game day: August 31, 7:30 p.m. PT
Stadium: Memorial Stadium - Berkeley, Calif.
Northwestern - Cal TV Information: ESPN2
Story lines: The Bear Raid era of Cal football will officially begin with this meeting between the Golden Bears and Wildcats at Memorial Stadium. The new sheriff in town is Sonny Dykes, and with him comes a new attitude and style of play. Once Dykes gets the high-octane attack in full gear, you can expect a lot of offense out of this group -- Sonny’s Louisiana Tech Bulldogs led the FBS in yards and points per game last season (577.9 and 51.5, respectively). On the other side of the ball, new defensive coordinator Andy Buh has been tasked with improving a unit that finished ninth in scoring defense and 10th in yards allowed per game in the Pac-12.
So there's a new head coach, a new staff and also a new starting quarterback. Dykes recently announced that Jared Goff would be his deputy under center, as the true frosh from Novato, Calif., beat out Austin Hinder and Zach Kline for the gig. Rest assured, there'll be some nerves for the signal caller on the 31st, but it's not like he won't have any weapons surrounding him. True, the Golden Bears lost their top two running backs in C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele. But not all is lost in the backfield, for Brendan Bigelow knows how to press the “O” button and is set for a breakout season in 2013 (and hey, Daniel Lasco ain't bad either; neither is Khalfani Muhammad, a frosh ball-carrier and track star who caught a 59-yard TD pass in a recent fall camp scrimmage). And, while Keenan Allen is off to greener pastures with the San Diego Chargers, Cal should still have a solid receiving core that features Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper.
[Related: 2013 Cal football schedule]
The Wildcats will be coming into Strawberry Canyon on the heels of its most successful season since a B1G co-championship in 2000. In some respects, 2012 was even better than that season a dozen years ago because the ‘Cats got to 10 wins for the first time since 1995 and won their first bowl game since 1949, when they beat Cal in the Rose Bowl -- in fact, this will be the first time these two schools have met since the 1949 Rose Bowl.
Former Northwestern linebacker and current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald does things a little differently in Evanston, employing a two-quarterback system. It worked well enough in 2012, as Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian powered the Wildcat attack to the tune of almost 400 yards per game and 31.7 points per contest. Colter is quite the athlete as well, rushing for nearly 900 yards and hauling in 16 receptions last year. Yes, one of Northwestern’s quarterbacks sometimes lines up as a wide receiver. This figures to be a close one, as the Wildcats are known for their down-to-the-wire finishes and have been nicknamed the “Cardiac ‘Cats.” Tight or not, the Golden Bears hope their 2013 season opener brings a few more smiles to the faces of Cal fans than their 2012 lid-lifter, a 31-24 loss to Nevada in the first game in the newly renovated Memorial Stadium.
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