Mike MacIntyre and Sonny Dykes have coached against each other in each of the past three seasons when they were at San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, respectively.
So it's unlikely either will have much in the way of surprises in store when they meet for the fourth straight year Saturday at Folsom Field when MacIntyre's Colorado team hosts Dykes' Cal Bears.
Some will refer to this as the Basement Bowl or some other unflattering term this week because it's a game featuring the two worst teams in the Pac-12 Conference this season. Neither has won a conference game this fall. CU has a 14-game losing streak in the conference and Cal has a 12-game skid in league play. Both programs earned their last victory in the conference last season against Washington State.
"On paper, it doesn't look like too good of a game, but to both teams, it's huge," MacIntyre said. "I think it will be a good battle. I think it will be an exciting game to watch."
Dykes holds a 2-1 advantage in the previous three games against MacIntyre.
"Last year we faced them and they were the leading scoring team in the nation and the leading yardage team in the nation and we held them to the least they had been, which was 43 points," MacIntyre said. "They were averaging 55 a game. And they weren't turning the ball over and we caused three turnovers and that was the difference in the game."
While the schemes will be familiar to the coaches, these are two totally different teams with capabilities those coaches have had to adjust to this season. Both teams are led by freshmen quarterbacks.
Cal freshman Jared Goff has been the starter all season for the Bears and he's putting together one of the most prolific passing seasons in the program's history, though it's not leading to victories. The Bears are 1-9 overall and 0-7 in the Pac-12 with their only win coming against Football Championship Subdivision Portland State.
The Buffs have three wins but only one came against a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision and that happened way back in the season opener against Colorado State. Earning a victory this week will end a lot of ugly streaks for the victor. While the loser will likely carry those sour notes into next season.
This could be a game with well over 100 combined pass attempts because these are two of the worst passing defenses in the nation. Cal is ranked last in passing yards allowed in the NCAA statistics this week and the Buffs are ranked 111th out of 123 teams.
"It's the type of game where we have to step up," CU cornerback Chidobe Awuzie said. "If they're going to pass a lot, it's going to be mostly on the DBs. The defensive success is going to be mostly on us, the back end, breaking up passes, making interceptions and making big plays."
Awuzie is from San Jose, not from Cal. He has a handful of friends on the Cal roster, including Goff, but he said this game carries no special meaning for him. He would like for CU to get back on the winning side of things after three consecutive losses and he would like for the defense to begin to force turnovers more frequently.
The Buffs have made only one interception in the past three games and only two in the past five outings after making six interceptions in the first four games this fall. Awuzie said the Buffs have to get more interceptions in practice before they will come in games.
Cornerbacks coach Andy LaRussa said the familiarity with Dykes's system should help the Buffs this week.
"Like every week, I think it's just getting aligned and getting familiar with the route combinations and being able to play fast," LaRussa said. "They get lined up in a hurry. They give you some different combinations and so you've just got to be able to see those and react."
A game time for Colorado's Nov. 23 home game against USC will not be decided until next Monday because Fox has exercised its right to a six-day selection window. It will kickoff at either 1:30, 2, 5 or 7:30 p.m.
Cal at CU
When/where: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. at Folsom Field.
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Network/KOA (850 AM)
The Bears at a glance
2013 record: 1-9, 0-7 in Pac-12
2012 record: 3-9, finished fifth in the Pac-12 North
Last week: Lost to USC 62-28 at home
Head coach: Sonny Dykes, 1st season at Cal. He is 23-23 in 4th year as head coach.
Key players: RB, Brendan, Bigelow, 5-10, Jr; PK, Vincenzo D'Amato, 6-1, Sr; LB Khairi Fortt, 6-2, Jr; QB, Jared Goff, 6-4, Fr.; WR, Chris Harper, 6-0, So; LB Jalen Jefferson, 6-2, So; RB Daniel Lasco, 6-1, So; RB/KR Khalfani Muhammad, 5-8, Fr; LB, Hardy Nickerson, 6-1, Fr; WR, Bryce Treggs, 5-11, So.
Notable: Goff is fifth in the nation in total passing yards (3,141), 11th in passing yards per game (314) and tied for 29th in touchdown passes (17). ... The Bears rank 121st in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 44.7 points a game. Only Idaho and New Mexico State are worse. ... The Cal defense also has suffered major attrition with nine players out with serious injuries and another dismissed from the team. ... Cal players are wearing a decal on the back of their helmets this season honoring the late-Chuck Muncie.