PULLMAN, Wash. -- Cal's game Saturday night at Washington State is not about zombies, bobbleheads or even the weather. It's about the Golden Bears trying to demonstrate they are the team that blasted UCLA, not the squad that limped through the first five weeks of the season.
"It was great to have some success and see the joy and fun that goes into a win," said Cal coach Jeff Tedford, when asked about the value of the 43-17 rout of UCLA. "But also understanding that it can't be a one-night stand."
The Golden Bears (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12), having snapped a three-game losing streak, can breathe more life into their season by winning on the road for the first time in 2012.
A victory over the Cougars (2-4, 0-3) would provide tangible meaning next week to the earliest-scheduled Big Game ever vs. rival Stanford, giving the Bears a chance to move back to .500.
Under first-year coach Mike Leach -- who will be immortalized with a souvenir bobblehead doll given to the first 10,000 fans at Martin Stadium -- the Cougars haven't yet become the offensive powerhouse he coached for a decade at Texas Tech.
"I knew it was going to be a work in progress," said Leach, whose squad ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring at 21.8 points per game.
Leach was so frustrated this week with some of the seniors he inherited that he referred to them as "zombies" and "empty corpses."
Tedford couldn't help but smile a bit when asked about that remark.
"Mike pretty much tells it as it is much of the time," Tedford said. "It really doesn't surprise me, anything he says."
Tedford and Leach, of course, have some history. Leach's Red Raiders stunned the Bears and Aaron Rodgers 45-31 in the 2004 Holiday Bowl. Cal, an 111/2-point favorite, trailed by as many as 21 points as Tech passed for 520 yards.
Leach's squad attempted 60 passes that night. In 2007, the Red Raiders put the ball up 72 times against Oklahoma.
The Cougars are averaging 48 pass attempts, which means Saturday night's game -- expected to be played in 40-degree weather with wind and possible showers -- figures to end after 11 p.m.
"He knows offense and can put up points probably as fast as any offense in the country," Cal running back C.J. Anderson said of Leach. "Well, probably not as fast as Oregon, no disrespect."
Sophomore Connor Halliday, who threw three interceptions last week in a 19-6 loss to Oregon State, has retained the starting quarterback job. He has passed for 1,284 yards and nine touchdowns.
Leach's version of the spread offense features four-reciever sets but not nearly the running threat the Bears faced against Nevada, Arizona State or UCLA. WSU has rushed for a total of 248 yards in six games.
Tedford said the defense must be wary of Halliday or senior backup Jeff Tuel pulling the ball down and running, but the reality is the two quarterbacks have generated just 23 positive rushing yards -- not quite 4 yards per game.
A bigger challenge for the Bears likely will be the WSU defense, which is experienced and aggressive. Cal did a better job last week of giving Zach Maynard time to throw, but senior linebacker Travis Long and the Cougars rank third in the Pac-12 with 19 sacks.
"They're playing with a lot of confidence," Cal offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik said of the WSU defense. "It's hard to even show our guys all the different pressures they're bringing."
No doubt, the greatest pressure facing the Bears is the need to back up the performance they delivered against UCLA.
If the Bears get tripped up here, the rest of their Saturdays this fall will have far less meaning.