Cal faces its first significant test of the season when it travels to South Bend, Indiana, for its first road contest — a Saturday afternoon game against Notre Dame.
The Bears are 2-0, and the Irish are 0-2 under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman, and Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne will be making his first career start Saturday. But Notre Dame is still the clear favorite.
Notre Dame will wear green jerseys for the first time since 2018 on Saturday. The Irish have won their last four games when wearing the green jerseys instead of their traditional blue home jerseys.
CAL (2-0) vs. NOTRE DAME (0-2)
SITE: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
WHEN: Saturday, 11:30 a.m. Pacific time (2:30 p.m. Eastern time)
TV: NBC – Jac Collinsworth (Play-By-Play), Jason Garrett (Analyst), Zora Stephenson (Sideline)
RADIO: KGO 810 AM — Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Mike Pawlawski (Analyst), Todd McKim (sideline reporter).
BETTING LINE: Notre Dame is favored by 12.5 points as of Saturday morning. (The point spread had been 11 points on Thursday.) Over/under is 41 points.
WEATHER FORECAST: Saturday afternoon will be partly cloudy in South Bend, Indiana, with a high of 84 degrees and 50% humidity and just a 2% chance of rain. Temperatures will drop to about 66 degrees Saturday night.
CAL-NOTRE DAME HISTORY: Cal and Notre Dame have not faced each other since 1967, and the Irish have won all four previous meetings between the two teams. Notre Dame won 41-8 in South Bend in 1967, 48-6 in Berkeley in 1965, 21-7 in South Bend in 1960, and 28-6 in Berkeley in 1959. Click here for details of the four games.
CAL STORYLINES: Cal is looking to start 3-0 for the first time since 2019, but the Bears have begun the season 3-0 four times since 2015 . . . Cal is getting $1.9 million from Notre Dame to travel to South Bend for the game . . . Saturday’s game will be Cal’s first road game of the season, but the Bears have won five of their last seven nonconference road games, with wins at Northwestern, Texas, North Carolina, BYU and Mississippi . . . Notre Dame will be the most talented team Cal has faced so far, and before the season started the Irish appeared to be the best opponent on Cal’s 2022 schedule. The Irish were ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP poll, but are currently unranked. . . . Cal quarterback Jack Plummer was Purdue’s starting quarterback against the Irish last season in the Boilermakers’ 27-13 loss at Notre Dame Stadium. Plummer was 25-for-36 for 187 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Plummer was replaced by Aidan O’Connell midway through the third quarter, and Purdue trailed by just 17-14 entering the fourth quarter. . . . Cal is expected to play three running backs – Damien Moore, Jadyn Ott and DeCarlos Brooks – in Saturday’s game, but Ott, a freshman who is fourth in the conference in rushing at 78 yards per game, is expected to get more touches than he did last week, when had seven carries and three receptions in the 20-14 win over UNLV. . . . Cal’s offense has been effective at times and has struggled at times through the first two games. The Bears rank 10th in the Pac-12 in total offense and scoring, averaging 23.5 points per game . . . Cal has three receivers capable of making big plays – Jeremiah Hunter, J.Michael Studivant and Mavin Anderson – and Notre Dame’s secondary has been suspect . . . . Cal ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in total defense, which is a disappointment for a team that relies on its strong defensive unit. But the defense saved last week’s win with critical plays to end UNLV scoring threats in the closing minutes.
Cal defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon talks about Notre Dame’s quarterback
NOTRE DAME STORYLINES: The Irish are reeling, and quarterback Drew Pyne will make his first career start for the Irish on Saturday after No. 1 quarterback Tyler Buchner suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the loss to Marshall. Pyne was 3-for-6 for 20 yards, one touchdown and one interception last week after replacing Buchner. Pyne is not the running threat Buchner was . . . The Irish are 0-2 for the first time since 2011 and want to avoid going to 0-3 for the first time since 2007 . . . After being ranked No. 5 in the preseason AP poll Notre Dame is unranked after a 21-10 loss to Ohio State in the opener and a 26-21 home loss to Marshall of the Sun Belt Conference last week. . . . Notre Dame had won 30 of its previous 31 home games before last week’s loss to Marshall . . . Notre Dame is 0-3 under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman, including a loss to Oklahoma State in last season’s bowl game after Brian Kelly left Notre Dame to become LSU’s head coach . . . Notre Dame has been unable to hold leads in its recent losses. It led Oklahoma State 28-7 before losing last season’s Fiesta Bowl 37-35. The Irish led Ohio State 10-7 at halftime but lost 21-10, and they held a 15-12 lead over Marshall in the fourth quarter before falling in that one 26-21 . . . The offensive line was expected to be a strength for Notre Dame with a couple NFL prospects up front, but the Irish are averaging just 3.1 yards per rushing attempt and have allowed five sacks. . . . Notre Dame forced 25 turnovers last season but has yet to force a single turnover this season and is minus-3 in turnover ratio. The Irish are yielding 4.6 yards per rushing attempt over their first two games . . . Notre Dame’s best player is tight end Michael Mayer, who is expected to be an early first-round NFL draft pick.
—Notre Dame beat writer answers five questions about the Irish—
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Cal offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave talks about the Notre Dame defense below:
CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Jack Plummer (Purdue transfer started against Notre Dame last season in losing effort); RB Jaydn Ott (Pac-12 offensive freshman of the week each of the first two weeks); WR Jeremiah Hunter (11 catches, 157 yards, 1 TD this season); WR J.Michael Studivant (6 receptions vs. UNLV); ILB Jackson Sirmon (team leader in tackles); OLB Xavier Carlton (Utah transfer has team-leading 2.5 sacks); S Daniel Scott (a penchant for game-changing plays)
NOTRE DAME PLAYERS TO WATCH: TE Michael Mayer (projected first-round NFL draft pick); QB Drew Pyne (making his first college start Saturday); DE Isaiah Foskey (11 sacks last year, 1 this season); RB Chris Tyree (speedy big-play performer); WR Lorenzo Styles (15.8 yards per reception); LB Jack Kiser (team’s leading tackler has 1.5 tackles for loss); DT Howard Cross III (14 tackles, including a sack).
CAL STATISTICS: Click here
CAL NOTES, DEPTH CHART: Click Here
NOTRE DAME NOTES, STATISTICS, DEPTH CHART: Click here
JAKE’S PICK: Cal 20, Notre Dame 17
JEFF’S PICK: Notre Dame 27, Cal 21
MIKE BERARDINO’S PICK (South Bend Tribune): Notre Dame 23, Cal 20
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Cover photo of Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman leading his team onto the field is by Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports
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