- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Even though Washington is averaging more than 200 yards on the ground, California linebacker Michael Barton fully expects the Huskies to come out throwing the ball.

That likely means another shootout Saturday when Washington visits the upstart Golden Bears, who are off to their best start since 2008.

After an encouraging beginning in wins over Northwestern and Sacramento State, Cal’s defense has shown an increasing vulnerability against the pass over the past month. In the past three games alone, opponents have scorched the Bears for 1,709 yards through the air.

Barton, Cal’s leading tackler, doesn’t see why Washington won’t try to do the same thing.

“If I’m Washington and I’m looking at our film, they’re going to want to throw the ball,” Barton said. “That’s where the money’s been coming for other offenses.”

The Bears (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) own one of the most prolific offenses in the country. They’re second nationally in scoring (50.0 points per game). Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff has thrown 22 touchdown passes with three interceptions while leading Cal back to respectability following a 1-11 campaign in 2013.

Goff passed for a school-record 527 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s 60-59 win over Washington State but was upstaged by Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday. Halliday set an NCAA passing record with 734 yards and six touchdowns, breaking the previous mark of 716 yards set by David Klingler of Houston in 1990.

By comparison, Washington quarterback Cyler Miles has thrown for just 623 yards and six touchdowns in four games since taking over the starting job.

The Huskies (4-1, 0-1) have relied more heavily on the backfield tandem of Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington. The duo has combined for 538 yards rushing while pacing first-year coach Chris Petersen’s methodical offense.

Still, Cal coach Sonny Dykes wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington go to the air more frequently against the Bears.

“They’re not historically a team that plays fast … but it wouldn’t surprise me,” Dykes said. “I’m sure they’ve got that in their arsenal.”

Here are some things to watch when Cal hosts Washington:

SHAQ SHIFTING AROUND: Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson is one of the top all-around players in the Pac-12. He’s already scored three defensive touchdowns this season and added a fourth when he scored on a 57-yard run against Eastern Washington. Now it appears that Thompson will add playing safety to his resume. “We’re going to move him around to get our best combination on there,” Petersen said. “It could be down and distance, could be team-oriented. Could be all of those things.”

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: The Bears have scored 45 points or more in four consecutive games and are attempting to become the second team in school history to top the 50-point plateau four times in one season. Wide receiver Trevor Davis thinks Cal can be even better offensively. “I think we can score 70 in a game,” said Davis, who had a pair of kickoff returns for touchdown in the win against Washington State. “I’ve never been a part of anything like this before.”

THROTTLING DOWN: Barring a complete change in philosophy by the Huskies, Cal’s defense should finally get a breather this week. In their three previous games against No. 10 Arizona, Colorado and Washington State, the Bears were on the field for 311 plays - including 211 pass attempts. In contrast, Washington’s offense has only 377 plays all season.

GOFF GOING OFF: Cal’s soft-spoken team captain is putting up eye-popping numbers on a weekly basis and is on pace to become the school’s career passing leader. Petersen said Goff is comparable to former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, who now starts for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. Owner of numerous Cal records, Goff needs only 10 more touchdown passes to break the school’s single-season mark of 31 set by Pat Barnes in 1996.

PACK YOUR BAGS: The Huskies are playing on the road for the first time since a season-opening win at Hawaii. Washington won its first three home games before losing to then-No. 16 Stanford on Sept. 27. Following the visit to Memorial Stadium, the Huskies face another tough test on the road against No. 12 Oregon.

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