Football: Cal-Oregon facts box

Cal vs. Oregon

KICKOFF: Friday, 7 p.m. at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

TV/RADIO: FoxSports1; 810-AM.

RECORDS: Cal 4-3, 2-3 in Pac-12; Oregon 6-1, 3-1.

SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 39-35-2. Oregon has won five straight, including 55-16 in 2013.

STORYLINES: Cal faces its biggest challenge of the season to date in the first college game ever played at the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium. No. 6 Oregon has won by a combined margin of 87-50 the past two weeks against UCLA and Washington teams that beat Cal. . . . The Bears’ pass defense, which has allowed more yards per game (391.7) than any team in the country, will be severely tested by Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota, who needs just 45 passing yards to become the Ducks’ all-time yardage leader. Mariota has thrown a touchdown in 33 consecutive games. . . San Jose native Byron Marshall, who led the Ducks with 1,038 rushing yards last season, now is splitting time between running back and wide receiver. He has 249 rushing yards, leads the Ducks with 34 catches for 388 yards.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: OG Chris Borrayo (head) will play; WR Chris Harper (back) is probable; S Avery Sebastian (quad), WR Trevor Davis (neck) and DE Brennan Scarlett (knee) are out. Oregon: RB Thomas Tyner (shoulder) is probable; WR Keanon Lowe (hamstring) is questionable; OT Tyler Johnstone (knee), WR Bralon Addison (knee) and OT Andre Yruretagoyena (knee) are out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: While Mariota is the headliner, Oregon’s ground attack is a silent killer. The Ducks have led the Pac-12 in rushing offense eight straight seasons, and are on top this fall at 217.3 yards per game. Cal rates fourth in the conference defending the run, but will be challenged by the threesome of freshman Royce Freeman, Thomas Tyner and Marshall, who have combined to rush for 1,164 yards this season. The return of starting OT Jake Fisher from injury two weeks ago has helped spark the offense.

STATS THAT MATTER: Cal outscored its first three opponents by a combined 56-0 in the first quarter, but has been shut out in the first quarter of its past three games and outscored 52-7 in the opening period the past four outings. . . . The Bears are averaging just 60.7 yards rushing the past three games. . . . Oregon is the first ranked opponent Cal has faced this season. . . . Oregon is the only team in the Pac-12 that has not thrown an interception this season. . . . Quick-strike Ducks lead the conference in scoring (43.6 ppg) despite being last in time of possession.


Football: Off to Levi’s, Jared Goff and teammates put last year’s rain-soaked Oregon disaster in rear-view mirror

The setting will be merely a subplot when Cal faces No. 6 Oregon on Friday night in the first college football game at Levi’s Stadium.

Quarterback Jared Goff said the Bears haven’t given much thought to playing in the 49ers’ fancy, new digs. But he acknowledged, “When we walk on the field it’ll be, ‘Wow, this is pretty sweet.’ ”

A year ago at Eugene, Oregon, the environment wreaked as much havoc as the Ducks. Relentless sheets of rain and swirling winds contributed to Cal losing four fumbles in the opening nine minutes on the way to a 55-16 loss.

Even the home team was astonished.

“As a native Oregonian, growing up in an area where storms are frequent, that was unbelievable,” Ducks coach Mark Helfrich recalled. “I’ve never seen that before or since.”

Neither had Goff, who arrived at Autzen Stadium as the nation’s passing leader, averaging 435 yards through his first three collegiate starts as a freshman. He lasted only 14 snaps before being pulled.

“I couldn’t control the weather and I couldn’t control the way the ball was coming out of my hands,” said Goff, who lost two fumbles in the splashy conditions.

“That game was rough. It wasn’t a good one for me or anyone else, really. It’s in the past. I’ve got a chance to prove myself again against them.”

Cal coach Sonny Dykes said there’s little connection between last year’s game and what might happen Friday night.

“Obviously, last year was a disaster,” he said. “We anticipate playing better.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.


Basketball: Arizona picked to win Pac-12; Cal tabbed 7th

Arizona was a near-unanimous pick to win the Pac-12 men’s basketball championship, according to a poll of 32 media members who cover the conference.

Cal was voted seventh.

The Wildcats, picked for the third straight year to win the league, collected 31 of 32 first-place votes to easily outdistance Utah and Colorado in the Pac-12 poll, announced Thursday at media day.

Arizona accumulated 383 total points, with Utah second at 317 and Colorado one point back in third. UCLA, which secured the only other first-place vote, was fourth with 290 points.

Stanford, coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, was picked fifth with 264 points and Cal, under first-year coach Cuonzo Martin, is tabbed to finish seventh. Washington was picked sixth with 189 points, one more than Cal totaled.

Finishing eighth through 12th are Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Washington State and Oregon State.

The media have correctly picked the conference winner 13 times over the past 22 seasons.


Basketball: Pac-12 media day set for Thursday

Pac-12 basketball media day is Thursday in San Francisco and I will be on hand to provide news and notes from the proceedings.

The event, featuring all 12 coaches and one player from each school, begins at 10 a.m. Cal will be represented by coach Cuonzo Martin and senior forward David Kravish.

If you want to watch live streaming from the event, click here for information on how to get onboard.


Football: Dykes dishes on `importance’ of uniforms

Cal coach Sonny Dykes did an interview this week with John Canzano, columnist for the Oregonian and Portland radio personality, and expressed his view that some things are more important than fancy uniforms.

Here’s part of what Dykes had to say:

“That’s where you’re going to go to college, that’s where you’re going to get your education,” Dykes said. “There’s a lot of factors that I think are a lot more important factors than what you’re going to wear 12 Saturdays a year. But, you know, kids like those things.

“The thing about it is, at Cal, we’re a unique university. Academics are going to be a big thing here. Kids who come to Cal are going to have to work really hard. The type of kids we recruit, typically, the uniforms aren’t going to matter that much.”

Click here for Canzano’s entire interview with Dykes.

And here for my how I answered Five Questions from Oregonian beat writer Andrew Greif on the state of Cal’s team.


Women’s basketball: Cal picked second in Pac-12 poll

For the second straight season, the Cal women’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 Conference, according to the annual coaches poll.

The Bears got three first-place votes to finish behind perennial champion Stanford. Oregon State was close behind in third place.

Cal has three starters back — including All-America candidates Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray — from a 22-10 that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.


Athletic director search: Seven-member committee formed, tasked to find up to three candidates by spring

Cal has formed a seven-member search committee to help find its next athletic director, the university announced Tuesday.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele and Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance John Wilton have been named co-chairs the committee that will advise Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

The committee is asked to provide Dirks with up to three potential candidates by mid-spring of 2015.

Other members of the committee are:

* Bob Jacobsen, faculty athletic representative and interim dean of undergraduate studies, College of Letters and Science

* Kathleen Correia, UC Berkeley Foundation trustee

* Meg Conkey, professor emerita of anthropology and chair of the chancellor’s task force on academics and athletics

* Solomon Hughes, Cal basketball alumnus, task force member and undergraduate adviser for student-athletes at Stanford

* Teri McKeever, Cal women’s swim coach


Football: Dykes says Mariota better than Manziel

Only one coach in the nation has faced both Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota, and Sonny Dykes says Mariota is the better player.

“I think he’s the best quarterback I’ve seen in a while,” said Cal’s second-year coach, who will have to deal with Mariota again Friday when the Bears face No. 6 Oregon at Levi’s Stadium.

On the way to winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman at Texas A&M in 2012, Manziel racked up 576 yards passing and rushing and accounted for six touchdowns in a 59-57 win over Dykes’ Louisiana Tech team.

And still Dykes gives a slight edge to Mariota.

“He compares favorably to Johnny Manziel,” Dykes said. “Mariota’s a bigger, faster, stronger version.”

Click here for the rest of this story.


Football: Borrayo, Sebastian could return for Oregon

Coach Sonny Dykes hopes two of three key players who sat out the UCLA game with injuries could be back to face No. 6 Oregon on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Starting left guard Chris Borrayo, who missed the game with a head injury, did non-contact work Sunday at practice and is expected to be cleared for full practice by Tuesday, Dykes said.

Reserve safety Avery Sebastian sat out Sunday’s workout with a quad injury, but will practice Tuesday.

The prospects are less optimistic for defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury. “It’s kind of wait and see and we’ll go from there,” Dykes said.

Starting safeties Stefan McClure (calf) and Michael Lowe (head), who returned to action against UCLA, emerged unscathed and are expected to be fine for Oregon.

“Both played a lot of snaps and did some good things,” Dykes said.

Lowe had missed just one game, but McClure was idle each of the first four Pac-12 games before facing the Bruins. He showed some rust, Dykes said.

“You could tell Stef hadn’t played in a well. He’s capable of playing better,” Dykes said. “It was good to see them back there, to give us some size, physicality and experience. I would expect them to continue to play better and better.”

McClure was just happy to be on the field again.

“It felt pretty good just to get back out there and help the guys, contribute to the team,” McClure said. “The leg feels pretty good. For me, it’s just getting back into playing shape. You can’t simulate playing in a game.”