Cal comes to town with the nation's sixth-ranked running attack, led by Jahvid Best, who has 291 yards and three TDs on 27 carries.
GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. CALIFORNIA DEFENSE
More consistency is a must from the Gophers offense, which has needed second-half rallies each of the first two weeks against Syracuse and Air Force. A strong play-action game would slow Cal's pass rush, which is sixth nationally, averaging 4.5 sacks a game. Cal will allow some passing yards. One key matchup will be Gophers receivers, starting with Eric Decker, against Cal cornerbacks Syd'Quan Thompson and Darian Hagan. Advantage: California.
CALIFORNIA OFFENSE VS. GOPHERS DEFENSE
This could be the most explosive offense the Gophers see all season. Cal has topped 500 yards and 50 points in both games and has 24 plays of at least 15 yards. The Gophers will rely on their linebacker trio of Lee Campbell, Nate Triplett and Simoni Lawrence. If the Gophers can't stop the run, Cal's passing game will be hard to slow as well, especially if Marcus Sherels doesn't play because of injury. Advantage: California.
Both teams have big-play threats returning kickoffs, and both have had steady kickers and punters, though Gophers freshman punter Dan Orseske got the benefit of a couple of nice bounces last week. The Gophers need to tighten up their kickoff coverage. Advantage: Even.
Cal has dominated at home, winning nine in a row. Road? Different story. The Bears have lost four consecutive road games dating to last season. The Gophers are a confident group, eager for the challenge. Advantage: Gophers
The Gophers defense ultimately will struggle to contain Cal's big-play threats, and the Minnesota offense could struggle against Cal's quick 3-4 scheme. The Gophers will score some points, but it won't be enough. California 34, Gophers 21
NUMBERS TO KNOW
20 Years since the Gophers hosted a team ranked in the top 10 in a non- conference game
0 Gophers victories in their past 10 games vs. ranked foes
Don't forget about
Cedric McKinley The Gophers DT forced the game-turning fumble vs. Air Force.