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Football: Luck-less Stanford lucky to win

The post-Andrew Luck Era at Stanford began with a tense 20-17 home victory over San Jose State.

The 21st-ranked Cardinal jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but did not put the game away until Jordan Williamson kicked a 20-yard field goal with 13:15 left.

The Spartans, 57-3 losers to Stanford in the opener a year ago, battled the Cardinal to a 17-all standoff through three quarters.

Stepfan Taylor rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown for Stanford and quarterback Josh Nunes, in his debut as Luck’s successor, was 16 for 26 for 125 yards and a touchdown.

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Football: The big moment is about to arrive and the Bears are excited to be home again

The atmosphere will be electric Saturday when Cal faces Nevada in the first game at Memorial Stadium in 21 months.

Here is my game preview and all the facts and figures you need about the 2012 opener.

CAL VS. NEVADA

2011 RECORDS: Cal 7-6, 4-5 in Pac-12; Nevada 7-6, 5-2 in WAC

KICKOFF: Noon, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley.

TV: Pac-12 Networks

RADIO: 810-AM

SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 22-2-1. Nevada won 52-31 at Reno in 2010, but Cal has not lost to the Wolf Pack in Berkeley since a 6-2 defeat in 1903 — when Theodore Roosevelt was president, there were just 45 states in the U.S., and the Wright brothers were still a month away from flying for the first time.

STORYLINES: The Bears are eager to properly christen their newly renovated stadium and to avenge an embarrassing 21-point loss to the Wolf Pack two years ago. In order to beat Nevada, they will need to defend the pistol offense much more effectively than when they played in 2010 and vs. UCLA in 2011 … Cal must win this game to realistically expect a 2-2 start with ferocious road games vs. Ohio State and USC looming later this month … Worth watching: Cal’s offensive line and its freshman wide receivers.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal — ILB David Wilkerson (ankle), ILB Khairi Fortt (knee), OG Dominic Galas (shoulder), CB Stefan McClure (knee), OLB Cecil Whiteside (academics) are out. Nevada — SS Ty Thompson (shoulder) is doubtful.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s defensive front seven vs. Nevada’s pistol offense and quarterback Cody Fajardo. Cal must be disciplined and creative on defense to disarm the Wolf Pack, which will use deception toset up option runs and passes out of the hybrid shotgun formation. When the teams met two years ago, Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick totaled 329 rushing and passing yards and accounted for five touchdowns.

STATS THAT MATTER: Saturday’s game is the 547th played by the Bears at Memorial Stadium, which originally opened in 1923. Cal is 317-213-16 all-time in the facility … The Bears are 61-5 under Jeff Tedford when they score at least 30 points, but one of those losses was two years ago at Nevada. … Cal has outscored Nevada 699-71 in games played at Berkeley, but only one of those 23 matchups was more recent than 1945 … Nevada features 18 starters from California, including defensive end Lenny Jones of San Leandro and linebacker Albert Rosette of Antioch.

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Football: Mike Pawlawski says O-line rates as more critical question than play of QB Maynard

Mike Pawlawski, who quarterbacked one of Cal’s greatest modern teams, said the Golden Bears’ prospects this season start with the performance offensive line, not Zach Maynard.

“For me as a quarterback, first and foremost is the offensive line. Always,” said Pawlawski, Cal’s starter in 1990 and ’91, who is returning to the radio booth as the team’s analyst this season.

“I want to see how the big boys up front are going to play. Those guys can do a good job — they don’t have to be great.” Pawlawski said. “If they can open holes for running game, that takes pressure off Zach and makes it easier for him.”

The Bears, who open their season Saturday at renovated Memorial Stadium against Nevada, feature three first-time starters in their offensive line and just one player — senior right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin — who is starting in the same position as a year ago.

Pawlawski, who led the Bears to a 10-2 record and No. 8 final AP ranking in 1991, believes Maynard will be more comfortable and more efficient as a second-year starter. He also said the guys up front will dictate much of that.

“Those guys matter first,” he said. “You put Joe Montana, Tom Brady or John Elway behind a poor offensive line and we wouldn’t be talking about their names in that echelon of quarterbacks. Name a great quarterback who played for years behind a bad offensive line — you can’t.”

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Football: Pac-12 opens 3-1, with four snoozers

Not much drama on opening night of the Pac-12 football season:

– UCLA 49, Rice 24: Jim Mora Jr. became the first UCLA coach to debut on the road with a victory as the Bruins overcame three blocked PAT kicks and routed Rice in Houston. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 214 yards and three TDs.

– Utah 41, Northern Colorado 0: John White rushed for 119 yards and Jordan Wynn passed for two touchdowns and the Utes handed Northern Colorado its 19th loss in its past 20 games.

– Arizona State 63, Northern Arizona 6: Taylor Kelly was 15 for 19 for 247 yards passing in his starting debut and coach Todd Graham easily won his first game for the Sun Devils. ASU led 42-0 at halftime and finished with 305 rushing yards.

– BYU 30, Washington State 6: Wazzu fizzled in coach Mike Leach’s debut, netting minus-5 yards rushing and failing to score a touchdown at Provo, Utah.

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Basketball: Harper Kamp to play in Greece

Former Cal star Harper Kamp has signed a pro contract and will play this season for Panelefsiniakos of the Greek basketball league.

Courtesy of the website Euro Basket:

“Panelefsiniakos agreed financial terms with the American power forward Harper Kamp . . . The California graduate is a solid player with strong internal drive and high degree of intensity. In his last season in his college he had the following stats as a starting five member: 34 games: 11.6ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 55.7%, 3PT: 14.3%, FT: 76.”

Panelefsiniakos finished first in the country’s A2 division last season with a 22-8 regular-season record. Former Portland U star Nik Raivio also is on the club’s roster.

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Twitter: Spread the word

I appreciate those of you who frequent this space, even if sometimes it’s just so you can argue among yourselves. That’s OK.

Would like you to help me get the word out that my Twitter handle has been tweaked: Cal fans now can get my tweets via Jeff Faraudo @CalBearsBANG

Share this very exciting news with all your friends (and their friends) and maybe some of them will find a home here at BearTalk as many of you have.

Enjoy the big college football weekend.

 

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Football: Inside linebacker David Wilkerson undergoes ankle surgery, out for the season

Cal sophomore inside linebacker David Wilkerson will miss the season after undergoing surgery this week on his right ankle, he confirmed.

A graduate of Monte Vista High in Danville, Wilkerson had started three games over the previous two seasons at outside linebacker, then was moved inside last spring.

Wilkerson had been sidelined for more than a week with the ankle injury before undergoing surgery on Wednesday. He said he will not play again this season.

Wilkerson entered the season with three years of eligibility, but already utilized a medical redshirt season in 2010 for a season-ending injury.

The news came on the same day that Cal coach Jeff Tedford confirmed Penn State transfer Khairi Fortt, who also plays inside linebacker, is scheduled to begin practicing next week.

Fortt has spent a month rehabbing after having surgery last spring, before he left Penn State. Tedford said that depending on how he progresses, Fortt could be available to play within a few weeks.

 
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Football: Debut of my weekly Pac-12 picks

Ten home games (now just nine), four new coaches, three days, a new TV network and a new stadium built in 1923.

Week 1 in the Pac-12 Conference has a little bit of everything, including six games broadcast over the net Pac-12 Networks. None of it will prevent the home team from ruling the day.

But Oregon State’s Saturday night opener in Corvallis vs. Nicholls State has been postponed because of Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls’ campus in Thibodaux, La., was closed Wednesday and the team has canceled its scheduled Friday travel plans.

Oregon State officials said they are hoping to reschedule the game.

Here are this week’s games and my picks:

THURSDAY

– Northern Colorado at Utah, 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Network): Northern Colorado went 0-11 last season, including a season-opening 22-20 defeat to something called Lindenwood.  Utah 48, Northern Colorado 3.

– UCLA at Rice, 4:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network): Here’s a strange little factoid I dug up — no UCLA coach making his debut on the road has claimed a victory. That dates back to 1919, and includes the likes of Rick Neuheisel, Terry Donahue, Dick Vermeil and Tommy Prothro. Well, Jim Mora Jr. ends the drought. UCLA 27, Rice 17.

– Washington State at BYU, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN): An intriguing Week 1 game. The Cougars aspire to be explosive under new coach Mike Leach, but they were 9-40 the past four years and allowed 40 points or more in 22 of those games. BYU was 10-3 a year ago, but lost 54-10 to Utah. BYU 37, Washington State 28.

– Northern Arizona at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Network): The Lumberjacks have alternated playing ASU and Arizona the past 10 years and are 0-10 in those games. The Sun Devils haven’t lost to NAU since 1938, and they’re not going to do it in coach Todd Graham’s debut. ASU 31, Northern Arizona 13.

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