California's pursuit of a Pac-10 championship ended weeks ago, but it still wants to finish the regular season strong and avoid being Washington's latest upset victim. The 19th-ranked Golden Bears look for a third straight victory when they visit the pesky Huskies on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both schools. California (8-3, 5-3) began the season ranked 12th and believing it could challenge for the Pac-10 title. Consecutive blowout losses to Oregon and Southern California to open league play all but ended those chances, but the Bears have bounced back by winning five of six, falling only to Oregon State - then unranked but now No. 13 - on Nov. 7.
"We stuck together well and even when things weren't going well we were able to pick it up," junior quarterback Kevin Riley said. With a school-record seventh straight bowl appearance still to come, California looks to end the regular season with a three-game winning streak after beating then-No. 18 Arizona 24-16 on Nov. 14, and then-No. 14 Stanford 34-28 in its most recent game Nov. 21. The victories over a pair of ranked teams have rejuvenated the Bears, who will try for their second straight victory and seventh in eight meetings with Washington (4-7, 3-5). "It's just about finishing strong, winning our ninth game, obviously going to Washington and playing a good Washington team," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. Washington is 3-1 in conference home games, which included a 16-13 win over then-No. 3 USC on Sept. 19, and a 36-33 victory over bowl-bound Arizona on Oct. 10. "It's tough to play there," said Tedford, whose team is 4-1 on the road. "It's a hostile environment."