The California Golden Bears have enjoyed a much better season in 2015 than recent years.
After starting the season 5-0, the Golden Bears were garnering consideration as a potential contender in the Pac-12, touting arguably the best quarterback in all of college football to lead an explosive offense.
Unfortunately for Cal, their five-win start was ensued by a four-game losing streak, halting their hopes of winning a conference title.
Still, this team features one of the most dangerous offensive units in the country, including a star quarterback and dangerous receiving core. Below, we take a look at which players the Golden Bears will hope will have a big game against the Sun Devils this weekend.
Jared Goff, QB—No. 16 (Junior)
Regarded by many as this year's best NFL quarterback prospect, Goff has taken advantage of a pass-happy offensive scheme to display his arm talent.
Goff enters this week second in the Pac-12 in yards per game (337.3), pass completions (286), pass attempts (441), yards (3,710) and passing touchdowns (32). He also ranks third in the conference in pass efficiency, and fourth in completion percentage (64.9).
However, despite his talent, Goff does come with his flaws. His arm strength has always been in question throughout his career, and he has been prone to forcing the ball to teammates, as he's thrown the most interceptions in the Pac-12 this year (13).
Nevertheless, Goff remains the key to the engine that is the Golden Bear offense. How he fares against ASU's blitz-heavy defense will not only be of intrigue to NFL Draft niks, but also play a prominent role in how this game plays out.
Kenny Lawler, WR—No. 4 (Junior, RS)
Lawler, considered by many as the most talented of Cal's receivers, is one of the most acrobatic pass catchers in the country.
The redshirt-junior out of Upland High School (Calif.) has exceptional body control in the air, along with a very big pair of mits, allowing him to win balls in the air against practically any defensive back in the nation.
Although he sports a leaner frame, he has phenomenal footwork and is great at creating separation from defenders off the line of scrimmage. Lawler enters the game with 10 touchdown catches, tied for the second-best mark in the Pac-12.
Khalfani Muhammad, RB—No. 29 (Junior)
Muhammad has looked good in his junior year, mostly because of the utilization of his speed.
A competitor in the 100- and 200-meter dash, as well as the 4x100-meter relay for Cal's track and field team each of the past two years, Muhammad has flashed his explosive ability in 2015 on the football field, averaging 7.1 yards per rush (seventh in the Pac-12) and totaling 524 yards on the ground (12th in conference), despite primarily serving as the second-string rusher behind Daniel Lasco (*who missed last week's game with an ankle injury).
Muhammad will play a key role, regardless of his role or the amount of touches he gets, as preventing him from breaking off big plays in the running game or as a kick returner will be a priority for the Sun Devils this weekend.
Hardy Nickerson, MLB—No. 47 (Junior)
The junior linebacker currently sits at seventh in the conference in tackles per game, averaging 7.7 per showing. He's logged a total of 85 tackles (42 solo, 43 assisted) through 11 appearances, including two for a loss and a sack.
Expect to hear his name called quite often during this weekend's contest.
Bryce Treggs, WR—No. 1 (Senior)
Treggs is one of the many explosive receiving options on the outside available to Goff and Co.
The senior is leading the league in yards per catch (18.5), has the eighth-most receiving touchdowns (5) in the Pac-12, and ranks 10th in receiving yards per game (60.5).
Treggs is a big-time playmaker who the Sun Devils secondary will need to find a way to keep under wraps.