Football: Does Cal need an NCAA waiver to assure Grambling win counts toward bowl eligibility?

Does Cal actually have the six victories it needs to become bowl eligible this season?

The USA Today is reporting that the school has requested a waiver from the NCAA Football Oversight Committee that will allow its season-opening win over Grambling State to count toward the six wins necessary to play in a bowl game.

At issue, according to the story, is whether Grambling awarded enough athletic financial aid as a Football Championship Subdivision opponent to qualify it as an opponent that counts toward the six-win minimum without an NCAA waiver.

 Cal issued the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:

“At this time, we have received assurances from Grambling and are fully confident that the program meets the NCAA requirements. We believe our game against Grambling will count toward bowl eligibility. We filed a waiver with the NCAA as a precaution in the very unlikely event that Grambling’s calculations do not meet the NCAA requirements.”

According to NCAA rules, Football Bowl Subdivision teams can schedule one game against an FCS opponent, but for the game to count toward bowl qualification without a waiver, the FCS program must award, based on a two-year rolling average, at least 90 percent of the 63 scholarships allowed.

Cal spokesman Wes Mallette told USA Today the university requested the waiver “as a fallback option in the unlikely event that Grambling’s calculation does not meet the NCAA requirements. But Grambling has told us and we believe strongly that the requirement has been met and this will not be an issue.”

The USA Today story said Cal has been working with Grambling officials to determine whether the Tigers meet the standard. Cal was not aware of the potential problem until last week, the story said.

Cal is expecting to play in its first bowl game since 2011 when it lost 21-10 to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

The Bears, who are 6-5 overall and 3-5 in Pac-12 play, secured their sixth victory two weeks ago with a 54-24 verdict over Oregon State.

Cal faces Arizona State on Saturday night in its regular-season finale. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on FoxSports1.

Check back for updates on this story.


Football notebook: Where will Cal go bowling?

Cal and Arizona State both are bowl eligible heading into their matchup Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, and the winner could wind up securing a berth in the Jan. 2 Cactus Bowl in Tempe.

That’s the Pac-12’s No. 7 bowl slot and the Bears (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12), at least, cannot ascend any higher than seventh in the final overall conference pecking order. ASU (6-5, 4-4) could climb higher, depending on how other teams fare.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach projects Cal to face Air Force in the Cactus Bowl, while Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Bears playing in Tempe against Texas Tech, which is Dykes’ alma mater.

The Bears also could fall to a game with no contractual ties to the Pac-12. Stewart Mandel of Fox has them playing Duke at the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the website Campus Insiders projects Cal against Air Force at the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 29 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cal will play in a bowl game for the first time since 2011, when it lost 21-10 to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

Nine Pac-12 teams already have six wins to become eligible and Washington could become the 10th on Friday with a win over rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.


Senior safety Griffin Piatt is lost for the season after breaking his collarbone in the second half at Stanford on Saturday. The Bears also will face ASU without safety Damariay Drew (knee), who was injured the week before, but could return in time for a bowl game.

Senior starter Stefan McClure will be paired with either Luke Rubenzer or Khari Vanderbilt.


Piatt (3.63 grade-point average/business administration), senior defensive lineman Todd Barr (3.18/legal studies) and junior placekicker Matt Anderson (3.75/business administration) all earned first-team Pac-12 All-Academic honors. Rubenzer (3.38/undeclared) earned second-team honors.


Football: Cal braces for Arizona State blitz tactics

Bryce Treggs is asking an awful lot from the Cal offensive line in Saturday night’s regular-season finale against an Arizona State that shares the national lead in sacks.

“They definitely bring an abnormal amount of pressure,” the Bears’ senior wide receiver said. “I told the line if they hold them for 10 seconds, that’s all we need to get open.”

Ten seconds?

“No, I mean two seconds. Sorry.”

“I’d prefer 10,” quarterback Jared Goff said, laughing.

No one gets much time against the Sun Devils, whose 44 sacks are 10 more than any other team in the Pac-12. They had eight just last week against Arizona.

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said most defenses tip off their blitz plans pre-snap, but ASU comes from all angles and rarely gives it away.

“They do a nice job of disguising what they do,” he said.

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Basketball: Golden Bears excited for Vegas trip

Appropriately, the main course of 14th-ranked Cal’s nonconference schedule will be served on Thanksgiving.

The Bears (4-0) cruised through their final pre-holiday appetizer, using career-high totals of 18 points and 11 rebounds from freshman Jaylen Brown to post an 89-63 win over Sam Houston State in front of an announced crowd of 8,492 at Haas Pavilion.

Rice, UC Santa Barbara, East Carolina and the Bearkats of Huntsville, Texas are all in Cal’s rear-view mirror.

Now the Bears find out if they’re deserving of all the early hype and their national ranking at the Las Vegas Invitational.

Cal faces San Diego State (3-2) in the Thursday semifinal of the Vegas event, tipping off at 9 p.m. on FoxSports1. The Bears will take on either West Virginia (4-0) or Richmond (3-1) on Friday.

“I think our guys are excited to play in Vegas,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We have a good team — I know that. You have to still win games to measure yourself.”

For Brown and fellow freshman Ivan Rabb, Vegas will provide the stiffest tests of their young college careers.

“They’ll be ready for it,” Martin said. “You’re never ready for something you’ve never seen. Physically and skill-wise they’re ready. It’s part of going through it, but they won’t be afraid.”

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Basketball: Brown, Wallace lead Cal to easy win

Freshman Jaylen Brown had career-high totals of 18 points and 11 rebounds and No. 14 Cal eased past Sam Houston State 89-63 in front of an announced crowd of 8,492 fans at Haas Pavilion on Monday night.

The Bears (4-0) used a fastbreak-fueled 15-0 run late in the first half to take charge. Cal scored eight points in a span of 75 seconds to break open a 23-20 game.

Brown dunked a putback, then stole the ball and fed Tyrone Wallace for a fastbreak basket, before Wallace returned the favor with a steal and feed to Brown for a dunk. Wallace scored seconds later on a 2-on-1 break off a pass from Sam Singer.

The Cal lead reached 38-20 before the Bearkats (2-2) from the Southland Conference ended a 6½-minute drought.

Jordan Mathews also scored 18 points and Wallace had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Cal resumes play on Thanksgiving at the Las Vegas Invitational against San Diego State (3-2). The Bears will play Friday against either West Virginia (4-0) or Richmond (3-1).

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Football: Jonathan Johnson likely to have surgery

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said Sunday evening that defensive end Jonathan Johnson is likely to have knee surgery and won’t play again this season.

The senior from Pittsburgh injured the knee two Saturdays ago against Oregon State, and did not play in the Bears’ 35-22 Big Game loss at Stanford. Johnson started five games this season and had 20 tackles, including two sacks and four tackles for loss.

Also scratched for Saturday’s regular-season finale against Arizona State is safety Damariay Drew (knee), who could return in time for a bowl game, per Dykes. Drew is the Bears’ second-leading tackler with 64 in 10 games.

Senior running back Daniel Lasco (ankle) remains questionable for ASU but junior Khalfani Muhammad (foot) is expected back.


Dykes said he did not meet Sunday with Cal athletic director Michael Williams.


Basketball: Cal takes on Sam Houston State

The fifteenth-ranked Cal basketball team (3-0) take on the Sam Houston State Bearkats (1-2) on Monday night at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 8 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.

This is the Bears’ final tuneup before facing San Diego State and either West Virginia or Richmond on Thursday and Friday at the Las Vegas Invitational.

The Bearkats of the Southland Conference may not be much of a test. Their lone victory so far was a 114-92 win over St. Thomas, an NAIA program from Texas. Sam Houston opened the season with an 85-50 loss at SMU and, most recently, dropped an 86-81 overtime decision to Southern Illinois.

The Bearkats’ best player is Dakarai Henderson, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, who averages 20.7 points and has scored at least 17 in each game so far. Forward Aurimas Majauskas of Lithuania and guard Ameer Jackson each average 13.7 points.


Senior point guard Tyrone Wallace needs just seven points to move ahead of ex-teammate David Kravish and into the No. 20 spot on Cal’s career list. Wallace currently has 1,260 points, and is averaging 21.3 points through three games.


Football: Can Bears clean things up in time for ASU?

Having lost to rival Stanford for a sixth straight season, Cal must now refocus on a Pac-12 Conference opponent it does not know nearly so well.

Arizona State visits Berkeley in Saturday’s regular-season finale — the first meeting between the teams since 2012.

“We’ve just got to clean up the little things and we’ll be able to go out next week and put on a show,” sophomore running back Tre Watson said.

The big show was Saturday night’s 118th Big Game on The Farm, and the Bears racked up 495 yards of offense without a turnover. But Watson understood that all the other numbers didn’t amount to much compared to the final score: 35-22.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “we lost.”

The Bears — while eligible to play in a bowl this season after making substantial progress — were left with the painful reality that they’re still not ready to beat the Pac-12’s best teams.

Cal (6-5, 3-5) is now 0-12 in coach Sonny Dykes’ three seasons against opponents that serve as the measuring stick in the conference — Stanford, Oregon, USC and UCLA. The Bears have not had a lead at anytime against Stanford since the second quarter of the 2011 game.

The Bears put up a fight this time, trailing just 21-16 after three periods. But red-zone failures, ill-timed penalties and the defense’s inability to get stops in the fourth quarter led to a familiar ending.

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Football notebook: Will Sonny Dykes talk contract with his boss Sunday?

After he was finished taking questions from reporters Saturday night, Cal coach Sonny Dykes had a brief exchange with athletic director Michael Williams as they were exiting the interview room.

“We’ll talk tomorrow,” Williams told him.

The conversation likely will focus on Dykes’ contract situation. He has two years left on his original five-year deal, and Williams said early in the week the school has begun negotiations to extend his contract.

Even at 6-5 overall, the Bears’ results this season have been mixed. Cal started 5-0, but has dropped five of its past six games. The Bears are bowl eligible for the first time since 2011, but the loss to Stanford dropped them to 0-9 in Dykes’ three years against their in-state rivals from the Pac-12.


The Bears played without running back Daniel Lasco, whose sprained ankle is the latest injury to derail his senior season. Sophomore Tre Watson filled in nicely, running 14 times for 87 yards a week after he gained 110 in a win over Oregon State.

Cal also played without two starting defensive players: safety Damariay Drew and defensive end Jonathan Johnson, both out with knee injuries, and junior running back Khalfani Muhammad, sidelined by a foot injury.

Lawler (bruised buttocks) was on the field for just one play all night.


Quarterback Jared Goff threw a pair of touchdown passes, boosting his career total to 85. That ties him for fifth-most in Pac-12 history, alongside a pair of former Arizona State quarterbacks — Rudy Carpenter (2005-08) and Andrew Walter (2001-04).

Goff’s 386 passing yards push his career total to 11,191, which elevates him to No. 6 on the Pac-12 charts.


Sophomore place-kicker Matt Anderson hit field goals from 20, 28 and 25 yards. He is 14 for 17 on the season, including eight in a row.


Cal entered the game tied for fifth nationally with 24 takeaways. But the Bears squeezed no turnovers out of Stanford and have just six in their past six games.


Football: Cal loses sixth straight Big Game

The Cal football team got what it wanted in the 118th Big Game – a chance to win. The Bears could not convert it in a 35-22 loss to Stanford on Saturday night.

Down just 21-16 entering the fourth quarter, the Bears could almost taste their first victory in the series since 2009.

“Guys were excited. You could look at everyone’s eyes and they believed we were going to win,” senior safety Stefan McClure said. “That was a moment we really trained all year for. Fourth quarter against Stanford with a chance to compete.”

Instead, it was Stanford that closed out the game, scoring touchdowns on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter to leave the Bears frustrated by their own mistakes.

Quarterback Jared Goff was sharp for the Bears (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12), completing 37 of 54 passes for 386 yards and two touchdowns. Cal outgained Stanford 495 yards to 356. The Bears didn’t turn the ball over a year after giving it up five times.

The game was nothing like the previous two seasons, when the Bears were outscored 101-30. But there were issues that decided the outcome.

Cal converted just one of five red-zone chances for touchdowns – settling three times for field goals.

“We’re normally really good in the red zone. Today we weren’t,” Goff said. “Missed opportunities. Three scores that could have changed it.”

The Pac-12’s third-least penalized team, Cal was flagged eight times for 63 yards.

“There were a lot of little things,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said in his opening post-game remarks. “The officials, er rather the penalties, killed us. Didn’t give us a chance to win the game. It was tough to overcome that.”

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