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ASU Football Opponent Primer: California Golden Bears

The Sun Devils will complete their 2015 regular season with a visit up to northern California to take on the Golden Bears.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the remaining weeks separating us from the return of Sun Devil football, House of Sparky is taking a week-by-week look at the opponents ASU will face this season. So far we've covered ASU's non-conference schedule as well as their first eight Pac-12 opponents of the year. After hosting the highly-anticipated Territorial Cup, the Sun Devils will take on California to close out the 2015 regular season. Opponent Primer Schedule:

July 8 - Texas A&M - Read

July 13 - Cal Poly - Read

July 15 - New Mexico - Read

July 20 - USC - Read

July 22 - UCLA - Read

July 27 - Colorado - Read

July 29 - Utah - Read

August 3 - Oregon - Read

August 6 - Washington State - Read

August 10 - Washington- Read

August 12 - Arizona

August 17 - California

Cal's 2014 Season

The Golden Bears followed up the 2013 season during which they posted a 1-11 record with a 5-win campaign in head coach Sonny Dykes' second year at California.

Offensively, California proved to be one of the most explosive units in the nation, finishing fifth nationally in passing yards per game (347.8), 13th in points per game (36.7) and 19th in total yards (5,942). However, it was poor and inexperienced defensive play that parlayed into the team putting up such gaudy offensive statistics. Cal's defense allowed the second-most points per game in the nation (42.1) and yards per game (530.9) last season.

These stats greatly influenced the team's record, as well. After starting the year 4-1, the Bears would go on two separate three-game losing streaks before ultimately finishing 5-7.

Dykes will hope that in his third year directing the team that they'll be able to continue to improve as they return a young squad that enters with another year of experience under its belt.

Key Losses

WR Chris Harper

Harper was the team's third-leading receiver last year hauling in 52 passes for 634 yards and six touchdowns. Cal loses one of its most dynamic pass-catchers a year early after he decided to forgo his senior season. Harper finished his career with 163 receptions for 2,030 yards and 13 touchdowns.

DL Austin Clark

Clark started 10 games for California last season, finishing the year with 22 total tackles.

DL Brennan Scarlett

Scarlett appeared in only five games, but still managed to post 10 tackles, including two sacks during his short spell in 2014.

Key Returners

QB Jared Goff

Arguably the best quarterback in the country, Goff is the head of what is one of the most potent passing attacks in college football. In 2014, he threw for nearly 4,000 yards along with 35 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. His arm talent alone will provide Cal with a dangerous offensive unit.

LB Michael Barton

Barton led the Golden Bears in tackles last year, finishing with 80 total tackles, including 7.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks. He's been listed on many preseason award watch lists and is considered one of the better young linebackers in the conference.

WR Kenny Lawler

Despite not being one of the team's starting receivers, Lawler is has already established himself as an electric playmaker capable of scoring with just about every touch. He recorded 54 receptions for 701 yards for nine touchdowns last season.

Reasons for optimism

Arizona State figures to have one of the most explosive offensive units in the country in 2015, and could have a favorable matchup against Cal's defense. The offensive line is still very much a question mark, and head coach Todd Graham could (and probably will) be willing to throw everything it can to keep its members off balance and disrupt the passing game.

Reasons for pessimism

Jared Goff's arm and the playmakers around him pose as a legitimate threat. With the matchup also being the last of the regular season schedule, it will come down to who is more motivated. Should ASU be playing for a chance to play in the conference championship, they can't afford to falter at the end of year the way the team did in 2014. Cal is a young, but talented squad; one that shouldn't be underestimated.