California and Washington would be happy to put their nonconference showings in the rear-view mirror.
The Golden Bears (1-2) and Huskies (1-2) will get a chance to do that this week, as they open Pac-12 Conference play Saturday night in Seattle.
Each team lost its first two games before bouncing back with victories last week. Cal defeated Sacramento State 42-30 and Washington trounced Arkansas State 52-3.
“You never minimize a win,” Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox said. “It’s hard winning in college football, regardless of who you’re playing. … It’s good to get a win. But we all know that we need to be much, much better.”
Chase Garbers threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns to lead Cal, which opened the season with a 22-17 loss to Nevada before suffering a 34-32 defeat at TCU.
“Each and every week we have gotten better,” Garbers said about Cal’s offense. “We have taken steps forward. As the season goes on and weeks go on, we’ll keep taking that next step.”
It’ll have to be a leap against a Huskies defense that ranks among the nation’s best in pass efficiency defense and hasn’t yet allowed a touchdown throw.
After losing their opener 13-7 against Montana, the Huskies traveled to Michigan where they suffered a 31-10 defeat.
The Washington offense finally got untracked last week as Dylan Morris threw for a career-high 367 yards and three TDs.
“It was very exciting to get some results from all the hard work that our team has been putting in,” Washington coach Jimmy Lake said. “Our guys have already gone back to work, and now we’re getting ready to prepare for conference play.”
The Bears and Huskies didn’t meet last season due to coronavirus concerns. In their 2019 meeting in Seattle, lightning caused a 2 1/2-hour delay and the game didn’t finish until 1:23 a.m., with Cal kicking a field goal with eight seconds left to win 20-19.
What does Lake expect from the Golden Bears this time?
“They’re going to be sound on defense. They’re not going to make a lot of mistakes. They’re going to try to get turnovers,” Lake said. “And then on offense, they have a really good running game and they don’t turn the ball over. So that’s going to keep you in every single game.”