Football: Cal-Northwestern game thread

FINAL SCORE: Northwestern 44, Cal 30. For the latest online version of my game story, please click here.

HALFTIME: Northwestern 17, Cal 10. Goff was 13 for 24 for 137 yards without an interception. Bigelow carried nine times for 76 yards. Treggs had six catches for 60 yards.

Siemian was 15 for 20 for 199 yards with a TD and an INT for Northwestern.

Cal had 211 yards of total offense, Northwestern 293.

Safety Avery Sebastian with an ankle injury and will not return. LB Khairi Fortt also out.

WELCOME: Welcome to the 2013 Cal football season and the start of the Sonny Dykes era.

A gorgeous early evening in Strawberry Canyon. Fans just starting to trickle in, but Cal is expecting close to a sellout.

I will post periodic updates here through the game, but the pace of the action and the late start will preclude me from posting continuously. Will try to give stat updates at the end of each quarter.

Kickoff is set for 7:36 p.m. on ESPN2.

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.


Football: Survey indicates optimistic buzz

As promised, here are results of our little unscientific survey on how Cal will fare in Year 1 of the Sonny Dykes era.

It’s a given that those of you who voted are Cal fans, and yet I a bit surprised that 70 percent (21 of 30) expect the Bears to beat Northwestern tonight, and that 60 percent (18 of 30) predict a bowl appearance.

Thanks for participating. Here are the results:

1) 70 percent (21 of 30) predict Cal will beat Northwestern.

2) 41.4 percent (12 of 29) believe Cal will average at least 35 points this season.

3) 58.6 percent (17 of 29) expect Cal to score at least 50 points in one game (not counting Portland State).

4) Just 10.3 percent (3 of 29) believe Cal will be held without an offensive touchdown in a game this season.

5) 58.6 percent (17 of 29) expect the Bears to change quarterbacks before season’s end for a reason other than injury.

6) A whopping 63.3 percent (19 of 30) predict Cal will beat USC in Berkeley.

7) Just 23.3 percent (7 of 30) were bold enough to suggest Cal will beat Stanford on the road.

8) Only 20 percent (6 of 30) believe the Bears will win four games or fewer.

9) 30 percent (9 of 30) are confident Cal will win eight games or more.

10) And 60 percent (18 of 30) predict the Bears will play in a bowl game.


Football: Cal-Northwestern game facts


RECORDS: Cal 3-9, 2-7 in Pac-12 in 2012; Northwestern 10-3, 6-3 in Big Ten.

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m., Memorial Stadium, Berkeley.



SERIES HISTORY: Northwestern leads 1-0. The Wildcats beat Cal 20-14 in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1949.

STORYLINES: It’s all new for Cal, which kicks off the Sonny Dykes era against the nation’s No. 22 team. The uptempo Bear Raid spread offense will feature six freshmen or sophomore starters, four of them first-time starters, including freshman quarterback Jared Goff. … Over the past 100 years, Cal coaches were 12-6 in their first game. … Cal faces seven preseason Top-25 teams on its schedule, including three before the end of September. …The Cal defense must contain Northwestern senior Venric Mark, who averaged 105 rushing yards and 18.7 yards per punt return last season.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal — MLB Nick Forbes (back) is out. DE Brennan Scarlett (hand) is doubtful. SS Avery Sebastian (head) and WR Chris Harper (shoulder) are probable. Northwestern — No injuries reported.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal defense vs. Northwestern quarterbacks. The Golden Bears ranked 104th nationally last season in pass defense, allowing 271.9 yards per game. (Dykes’ Louisiana Tech team was last at 340.4 yards per game). Cal is likely to be without three defensive starters vs. Wildcats’ tag-team quarterback duo of Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian, who last season combined to pass and rush for 3,123 yards and accounted for 27 touchdowns through the air and on the ground.

STATS THAT MATTER: The past six Cal coaches have won their debuts, dating back to Roger Theder’s 36-26 road loss to 10th-ranked Nebraska in 1978. No Cal coach has lost his debut while playing at home since Marv Levy in 1960, when the Bears fell 7-3 to Tulane. … Northwestern is 7-0 in season openers under coach Pat Fitzgerald. … The 2012 season marked just the second time in 100 years Northwestern has won at least 10 games.


Here’s what the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune had to say about the Cal-Northwestern game.


Football: Cal recruiting target Mixon has big night, but suffers cramps in opening-night loss

Joe Mixon ran 75 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the season Friday night, and had 157 rushing yards and four touchdowns by halftime.

But the senior from Freedom HS in Oakley — a five-star prospect who has identified Cal as one of his five final college finalists — apparently ran out of gas.

He suffered what our reporter described as severe cramps late in the game and Amador Valley of Pleasanton rallied for a 35-28 victory.

Mixon finished with 198 yards on 20 carries.


Football: Will schedule toughen or ruin Bears?

Will a treacherous nonconference schedule prepare the Cal football team for rough waters in the Pac-12 Conference or send its season into the rocks?

Cal fans will not like the answer history suggests.

The Golden Bears kick off their schedule Saturday night against No. 22 Northwestern in coach Sonny Dykes’ debut at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. for a game the nation will watch on ESPN2.

Another Big Ten heavyweight looms in two weeks when No. 2 Ohio State visits Berkeley. Then, after a week off, the Bears open conference play at No. 3 Oregon — the first of five ranked Pac-12 teams Cal will face.

Click here to read the rest of this story.



Cal is 2-19 in games played when it’s faced two (or more) Top-25 opponents during the nonconference portion of its schedule:

— 1953: lost 25-0 at home to No. 20 Baylor; lost 33-19 at home to No. 6 Ohio State; won 40-0 on the road vs. No. 20 Penn. Final season record: 4-4-2.

— 1954: lost 27-13 at home to No. 2 Oklahoma; lost 21-13 on the road to No. 14 Ohio State. Final season record: 5-5.

— 1959: lost 42-12 at home to No. 13 Iowa; lost 33-0 on the road to No. 10 Texas. Final season record: 2-8.

— 1961: lost 28-3 at home to No. 4 Texas; lost 28-7 on the road to No. 1 Iowa. Final season record: 1-8-1.

— 1965: lost 48-3 at home to No. 3 Notre Dame; lost 10-7 on the road to No. 4 Michigan. Final season record: 5-5.

— 1969: lost 17-0 at home to No. 4 Texas; won 17-14 on the road vs. No. 10 Indiana. Final season record: 5-5.

— 1971: lost 51-20 in Little Rock, Ark., to No. 7 Arkansas; lost 35-3 on the road to No. 14 Ohio State. Final season record: 6-5.

— 1972: lost 20-10 on the road to No. 2 Colorado; lost 35-18 at home to No. 3 Ohio State. Final season record: 3-8.

— 1976: lost 36-24 on the road to No. 16 Georgia; lost 28-17 on the road to No. 4 Oklahoma. Final season record: 5-6. 

— 1999: lost 45-0 on the road vs. No. 5 Nebraska; lost 38-28 on the rod vs. No. 24 BYU. Final season record: 4-7 (later changed to 0-11 after forfeits).



Football: Bears complete final practice; Harper, Sebastian expected to start vs. Northwestern

Sonny Dykes talks about decision to keep 2014 Big Game in Berkeley.


Receiver Chris Harper (shoulder) and strong safety Avery Sebastian (head) both practiced Thursday and coach Sonny Dykes expects both to start on Saturday night against Northwestern.

Defensive end Brennan Scarlett (hand) will dress for the game, Dykes said. Beyond that, no promises.

Asked if Scarlett has been cleared medically, Dykes said, “Not yet . . . there’s always tomorrow. We’ll see.”

Don’t count on it.

The Bears had what Dykes described as a clean and energetic practice Thursday. “We had a good vibe today around the whole program,” he said. “I think our guys are excited to play. They put the work in, now it’s time to go play.”

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Football: Barbour explains reasons for declining 49ers’ offer to move the 2014 Big Game

A proposal to move the 2014 Big Game from Berkeley to the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara that could have “potentially” earned each school an additional $1 million in revenue was declined Thursday by Cal, which said it didn’t have the chance to properly explain the opportunity to its fan base.

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said she wasn’t so much caught off guard by the negative reaction of fans to the proposal, as she was by the awkward timing of information that leaked to the public.

“Because of that, we’ll never really know if we had been able to properly (frame) the message, what the response would have been,” she said during a media teleconference. “Our community got caught flat-footed without any explanation of a why or a what. Of course the reaction was pretty strong.”

Barbour said the 49ers floated the idea to both schools last April or May, but that she didn’t receive a formal proposal from the club until this Monday.

By then, talk of moving the game on a one-year basis to the 49ers’ new facility had become public and fans from both Cal and Stanford reacted sharply.

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Football: 2014 Big Game stays at Berkeley

Greeted in recent days by a firestorm of opposition from its fans, Cal announced the 2014 Big Game against Stanford will remain at Memorial Stadium and would not be moved to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour announced the decision in a letter to fans and supporters.

Barbour said all aspects of the proposal were considered, but that the athletic department reached out to alumni, students, donors and ticket holders to solicit feedback.

“We listened to — and are grateful for — what they told us,” she wrote.

Jeffrey Warren, who broke the story last Friday that the game might be move through his blog, “A Cal Fan’s View,” was pleased.

“I”m excited. I’m happy for the kids,” said Warren, suggesting most of them wouldn’t have made the trip from Berkeley to Santa Clara. “The students would be playing beer pong in the fraternities and watching the game on TV.”

*** Click here to read Sandy Barbour’s entire letter.

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Football: Running back Brendan Bigelow feeling comfortable and fast in new Cal offense

The week after gaining more yards than any opposing running back in the 90-year history of Ohio State’s home stadium last season, Cal’s Brendan Bigelow didn’t get the ball until the second half at USC.

A week after that, zero carries against Arizona State.

“It was challenging and frustrating at times,” Bigelow said.

For Cal fans, too, who wondered why the Bears were not utilizing their most dynamic weapon in a season that spiraled to a 3-9 final record.

The formula should change beginning Saturday night when the Golden Bears open their first season under coach Sonny Dykes against No. 22 Northwestern.

Click here for the rest of the story.


Want another look at Bigelow’s spectacular 81-yard touchdown run last season at Ohio State, click here.

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.


Football: The history facing Sonny Dykes

Sonny Dykes is Cal’s 19th football coach in the past 100 years. His predecessors were 12-6 in their debut games since Cal permanently switched from rugby to football:

JEFF TEDFORD, 2002: d. Baylor 70-22
Bears started 3-0, with rout of No. 15 Michigan St., and beat Stanford to go 7-5

TOM HOLMOE, 1997: d. Houston 35-3
A 40-36 shocker over Oklahoma followed, but Bears finished with 3-8 season

STEVE MARIUCCI, 1996: d. San Jose State 45-25
Mooch started 5-0, including win at USC, lost 6 of 7, then took 49ers job

KEITH GILBERTSON, 1992: d. San Jose State 46-16
Bears staggered to 4-7 the year after posting 10-2 mark and No. 7 final AP ranking

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