Football: Big Game brings out big praise from David Shaw on Cal QB Jared Goff

Stanford coach David Shaw told reporters this week if he had one game to win, he’d pick between his own Kevin Hogan and Cal’s Jared Goff to start at quarterback.

Stanford is 2-0 against Goff, but Shaw likes everything about the Cal junior, who has thrown for 3,324 yards and 30 touchdowns this season.

“You have to get a calculator with Goff’s numbers,” Shaw said. “He’s awesome. He’s tall, he’s long. He has a quick release. He can paint the sidelines from the far hash. That’s big-time.

“Down the field, the balls are beautiful. They’re tight, coming down right where you want them. The kid’s really good. He’s the kind of guy you root for. He’s a humble kid. We’re going into this game with a lot of respect for this guy. He is that good.”


Football notebook: Cal fifth-year senior Stefan McClure longs to touch The Axe

Fifth-year senior safety Stefan McClure has been at Cal so long he jokingly says Saturday will be his 22nd Big Game. But for McClure, there is nothing funny about the recent competitive gulf between the Bears and rival Stanford.

Cal has lost five straight Big Games and McClure said he’s never touched The Axe, the prize that goes to the winner in the 118-year-old series.

“I haven’t even seen it in person, face to face,” he said. “I’ve only seen it through pictures or on TV. It’ll be a great feeling to touch The Axe. We’ve got to get it back.”

Having secured eligibility for a bowl game with their win over Oregon State last weekend, the Bears (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) now have a single agenda for Saturday.

“This is my third one. I’d like to win this one, obviously,” said junior quarterback Jared Goff, who could be facing Stanford for the last time if he elects to enter the NFL draft next spring. “We’re coming off a big win so we’re going to have to show a little bit of maturity to put that behind us.

“They’re going to play well. We’re going to play well. It’s going to be fun.”

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Basketball: A familiar faces watches Brown and Bears in win over UC Santa Barbara

Freshman Jaylen Brown had a familiar face from home watching him at Haas Pavilion on Monday night. A familiar face for Cal fans, too.

Former Bears star Shareef Adbur-Rahim – who attended Brown’s high school in Marietta, Georgia – was courtside for No. 15 Cal’s 85-67 victory over UC Santa Barbara.

“He can be as good as he wants to be,” said Abdur-Rahim, who was Pac-10 Player of the Year as a freshman 20 years ago. “He has all the tools. He’s very talented, works hard. It’s up to him how good he wants to be.”

Brown, the 6-foot-7 forward, had 17 points and seven rebounds and senior Tyrone Wallace provided 24 points and six assists as the Bears (2-0) ran out to a 19-point halftime lead and never were threatened.

With Warriors forward Harrison Barnes also in the crowd, Jordan Mathews scored 17 points, freshman Ivan Rabb had 12 – including 10 for 10 from the free throw line – and Jabari Bird scored 10 as all five starters reached double digits for the second straight game.

Cal was lax to start the second half and UCSB crept within 56-44 with 14 minutes left. “I thought it was unacceptable,” Wallace said. “We came out a little flat and they were aggressive.”

It was no surprise to Abdur-Rahim.

“They’re good but it looks like they’re still figuring out how to play together,” said Abdur-Rahim, who averaged 18.1 points during a 13-year NBA career. “It’s still early in the year. I think they’ll probably be one of the most talented teams that Cal has had. It’s exciting.”

Abdur-Rahim, 38, often watched Brown at Wheeler High because his own youngest brother played on the team. He said fans shouldn’t be concerned that Brown at times has appeared to be pressing a bit.

“There’s a lot of expectations and he probably wants to do really well. That’ll happen,” Abdur-Rahim said.

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Football: Sonny Dykes says Cal is `where I want to be,’ and AD Mike Williams wants to keep him

Cal fans already are wondering if Saturday’s trek to Stanford could be Jared Goff’s final Big Game. The junior quarterback has not hinted whether he knows what he’ll do, but could be enticed to enter the NFL draft next spring.

Now coach Sonny Dykes’ future in Berkeley may also be in question.

Three different online media reports in recent weeks suggested he is frustrated he doesn’t yet have a contract extension and could be open to listening to other job offers, especially if they come from his home state of Texas.

Dykes says it isn’t true.

“This is where I want to be,” he said in an interview with this newspaper late last week, when asked to respond to the reports and the questions they raised. “It’s where I am. I came here and it’s where I want to be.”

Said athletic director Mike Williams, “It’s my intention to keep him here.”

When Dykes made his remarks, Cal hadn’t yet posted last Saturday’s 54-24 win over Oregon State, which makes the Bears (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) eligible for their first bowl invitation since 2011.

Even then, Dykes said the growth of young players in the program has provided him with “more optimism” at certain positions.

“We’re going to lose some good players (after this season), but we’re going to replace them with some good players,” he said. “Our young guys are good. We’re recruiting well. I’m excited about the future.”

The Oregon State win, on the heels of four straight defeats, provided Dykes with some relief and some satisfaction, he said. “We’ll be satisfied when we win every game.”

For now, Dykes and the Bears would settle for winning the next one.

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Athletics: Cal sweeps Pac-12 awards for football, basketball

A busy Monday on the awards front for Cal.

The Bears swept Pac-12 weekly awards in football and men’s and women’s basketball.

— Football: Jared Goff was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after passing for a season-high 453 yards and six touchdowns in the Bears’ 54-24 victory over Oregon State that gave the Bears a sixth victory and made them bowl eligible for the first time in four seasons. Goff was 26 of 37, and hit 22 of 25 attempts during one stretch.

— Men’s basketball: Tyrone Wallace was given the season’s first Pac-12 Player of the Week award following a 20-point, six-rebound, nine-assist stat line in Cal’s 97-65 season-opening win over Rice. Wallace, a senior point guard and all-Pac-12 selection, shot 9 for 12 from the field and his assist total was a career high. This was the fourth time over three seasons that Wallace has won the award.

— Women’s basketball: Courtney Range won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award after contributing 23 points to a win over Austin Peay, then 19 points and 13 rebounds to the Bears’ road win over then-No. 8 Louisville. Meanwhile, Kristine Anigwe won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week by averaging 15.0 points in the two victories.


Football: Bears head into Big Game challenge with boost of confidence after Oregon State victory

Nobody on this Cal team has tasted victory against Stanford, but the Bears will head into the 118th Big Game with some wind in their sails.

Nothing helped more than beating Oregon State 54-24 on Saturday night.

“This gives us confidence going into next week’s game against a very good Stanford football team,” coach Sonny Dykes said, “and we know we’re going to need it.”

Moreover, the Bears (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) are unburdened by the weight of trying to become bowl eligible; they took care of that Saturday night.

Exactly where Cal ends up playing in the postseason depends on how it fares Saturday at Stanford and the following week at home against Arizona State. But the Bears know they will hear their name called Dec. 6 when bowl matchups are announced.

Cal has not played in a bowl game since 2011, and Dykes worried the mounting pressure of four straight defeats could paralyze the Bears as they prepared for Oregon State.

“Coach told us to go out there and have fun,” said wide receiver Maurice Harris, who caught two of Jared Goff’s six touchdown passes. “Everybody had a good time playing football.”

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Basketball: Cal faces UC Santa Barbara

Fourteenth-ranked Cal (1-0) returns to action Monday night against UC Santa Barbara (1-0) with a 7 p.m tipoff at Haas Pavilion. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Bears are 10-1 all-time vs. the Gauchos of the Big West Conference, but the lone defeat came in the teams’ most recent meeting. UCSB beat Cal 72-65 two seasons ago.

Cal comes off a 97-65 rout of Rice in its opener Friday night. Senior point guard Tyrone Wallace had 20 points, six rebounds and a career-high nine assists. Freshmen Ivan Rabb (14 points, 13 rbounds, 5 blocks) and Jaylen Brown (14 points) successful college debuts.

The Gauchos are picked to finish second in the Big West a year after posting a 19-14 record. The team returns three double-digit starters: senior guard Michael Bryson (13.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg), sophomore guard Gabe Vincent (10.1 ppg) and senior forward John Green (11.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg).

Green had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Vincent scored 16 points in UCSB’s season-opening 60-59 road win over Omaha. Bryson served a one-game suspension in the opener for playing in an non-sanctioned game during the summer. He is scheduled to play against Cal.


Football: Cal routs Oregon State behind 6 TD passes by Jared Goff to become bowl eligible

All the heartbreak and all the school records didn’t matter to Jared Goff.

After Cal routed Oregon State 54-24 on Saturday night in front of 41,874 fans at Memorial Stadium, Goff didn’t talk about the six touchdown passes he threw.

But he couldn’t stop going on about the Golden Bears winning for the sixth time this season to become eligible to receive their first bowl invitation since 2011.

“It’s really cool. It’s really exciting in there,” the junior quarterback said, nodding toward the locker room. “The whole atmosphere is really awesome right now. I’m just trying to enjoy it.

“It’s a culmination of three years’ hard work since a lot of us got here. I’ve said it a million times, when we were 1-11 (in 2013) and we lost (the 2014 season finale) to BYU, all the hard work is going to pay off.”

It paid off in the Bears’ fifth try this season – and eighth over two years – to become bowl eligible.

By snapping a four-game losing streak, Cal (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) earned a spot in a bowl game for the first time in coach Sonny Dykes’ three seasons. The Bears’ most recent bowl appearance was a 21-10 loss to Texas in the 2011 Holiday Bowl.

“I’m proud of our players,” Dykes said. “We challenged them after four tough weeks to relax and play good football. There was an energy on the sideline that was real positive.

“They believe in each other and it was real satisfying to see them perform well tonight, kind of get the next step in our program, which is get to a bowl game.”

Bowl selections will be announced Dec. 6.

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Basketball: How performances by Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown compare to other top freshmen debuts

Cal got 14 points apiece from its freshman duo of Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown on Friday night.

Here’s how the nation’s top freshmen performed in their debut games:

— Antonio Blakeney: LSU’s rookie guard had a big opening night with 22 points and 10 rebounds in an 81-70 win over McNeese State.

— Jaylen Brown: Cal’s talented small forward shot just 5 for 15 and struggled with fouls, but scored 14 points in the 97-65 win over Rice.

— Thomas Bryant: The Indiana center had 11 points and 9 rebounds in an 88-49 win over Eastern Illinois.

— Devonte Davis: A forward from Michigan State, Davis had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks in an 82-55 win over Florida Atlantic.

— Malik Dime: Part of a strong Washington recruiting class, the forward had 10 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks in a 77-71 win over Texas in Shanghai, China.

— Tyler Dorsey: The Oregon shooting guard – heavily recruited by Cal — made the most of 5 for 6 from the field, totaling 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in an 80-52 rout of Jackson State.

— Brandon Ingram: The Duke guard had 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, but shot just 5 for 16 in a 92-74 win over Siena.

— Skal Labissiere: The forward had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks in Kentucky’s 78-65 win over Albany.

— Jamal Murray: The Kentucky guard had 19 points, 8 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds against Albany.

— Ivan Rabb: The former Bishop O’Dowd High star had 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in the win over Rice.

— Malachi Richardson: The Syracuse forward contributed 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in a 57-47 win over Lehigh.

— Ben Simmons: The LSU forward – who earned preseason All-America honors by AP Top-25 voters — had 11 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks in an 81-70 win over McNeese State.

— Diamond Stone: The Maryland big man had 10 points and 7 rebounds in an 80-56 win over Mount St. Mary’s.

— Caleb Swanigan: The beefy low-post man – who picked Purdue over Cal – had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the 81-40 win over North Carolina A&T.

— Stephen Zimmerman: UNLV barely survived Cal Poly 74-72, but the freshman forward had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots for the Runnin’ Rebels.