The Oregon Ducks host the California Bears tonight at 9 pm ET as 24-point favorites with a total of 64.5. Oddsmakers opened this game with the Ducks -24.5 and a total of 59 with action so far from the public at 66% of the college football picks taking Oregon and 88% of the total wagers on the over. Weather for the matchup will be overcast and in the lower to mid-60s. You can watch the game on ESPN with a start time of 9:00 p.m. ET.
Both teams are coming off a bye week, so preparing for a Thursday night contest and having a short week are not an issue. Oregon enters tonight's game as the ninth-ranked team in the country, getting back into the Top 10 after dropping their opening game to LSU 40-27. Ducks running back LaMichael James will obviously play a major role in Thursday's game. James entered the season as a prime candidate for the Heisman Trophy but struggles against the LSU defense in the team's first game. Since then James has busted off for 559 yards rushing in the team's last three contests. Each team sports a 3-1 record on the season with Cal being 0-1 in the Pac 12. The Bears are coming off a 31-23 loss to Washington back on Sept. 23 that saw Husky QB Keith Price light up the secondary for 3 touchdown passes and nearly 300 yards. Oregon has the high-profile offense that will test the Cal defense to the extreme. The Ducks have averaged over 530 yards of offense this season and are the country's top scoring team at 52 points per game. Cal is no offensive slouch either as Jeff Tedford's club is averaging nearly 40 points per game themselves. The Ducks have won two straight in this series after losing the previous three games. The then-No. 1 Ducks scored their fewest points during their 12-0 regular season in last year's 15-13 road win over Cal.
Defense will be critical to both teams in this contest. Oregon hasn't lost a game at home since 2008 and it doesn't appear they will lose on Thursday, as the oddsmakers have made them heavy favorites. Cal has held teams to just 24 points per game but this Duck's team is on a whole different level. Oregon QB Darron Thomas has thrown only one interception this season compared to 12 touchdowns while California QB Zach Maynard has three picks and 10 touchdowns, already eclipsing the 1,000-yard plateau on the young season. If either team is able to create turnovers they will have an obvious edge. The difference may be with Thomas and James in open space, gashing the Bears for chunks of yards and being able to move the football down the field. Last year the Bears were able to stay in the game as Oregon struggled offensively with just 377 yards. California should be able to keep this game close as they can score points and probably will against the Oregon defense, which gave up 31 points in their most recent game to Arizona.
College Football Picks Prediction: California covers the +24 Free Picks: California at Oregon BettingWhat college football bettors need to know about California at Oregon (Thursday, October 6, 2011) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Marco D'Angelo and analysis from host RJ Bell.