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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Football: How Cal, Stanford match up

RECORDS: Cal is 6-4, 3-4 in Pac-12; No. 15 Stanford is 8-2, 7-1.

KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Stanford Stadium.

TV/RADIO: ESPN/810-AM & 1050-AM

SERIES HISTORY: Stanford leads 60-46-1. The Cardinal has won five in a row, including 38-17 last season.

STORYLINES: The combination of a Stanford victory or an Oregon loss would clinch the North division title for the Cardinal. … Stanford is No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings and must run the table to remain in the discussion for a semifinal berth. … This is the fifth consecutive season Stanford lost the game before facing Cal. … Stanford is 12-1 following a loss under coach David Shaw. ….Eligible to play in a bowl game for the first time since 2011, Cal will try to boost its standing among Pac-12 teams headed to the postseason. Bowls assignments are made on the basis of conference wins and Cal currently is tied for seventh. The Sun, Las Vegas and Cactus bowls have the Nos. 5 through 7 slots on the Pac-12 bowl ladder. The Bears could also slide to an at-large berth with a bowl that does not have a contract with the Pac-12. . . This could be the final Big Game for Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff, who will decide after the season whether to enter the NFL draft.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: WR Kenny Lawler (buttocks), RB Daniel Lasco (ankle) and Saf Damariay Drew (knee) are questionable; Stanford: DT Harrison Phillips (knee) and CB Ronnie Harris (ankle) are out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s defense vs. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. The Bears are just two weeks removed from allowing Oregon a school-record 777 yards of total offense, including a whopping 477 on the ground. McCaffrey, one of the nation’s most versatile and prolific players, can carve them up if the Bears aren’t sharp. He leads the nation in all-purpose yards with 2,418 – already a Stanford record with two regular-season games to play – and has strung together eight straight 100-yard rushing games. Against the league’s other two elite backs – Oregon’s Royce Freeman and Utah’s Devontae Booker – the Bears surrendered 402 rushing yards.

CAL STATS THAT MATTER: Goff is 26 for 50 for 376 yards with two interceptions and two touchdowns in two games against Stanford. The Cardinal is the only team he’s faced in the Pac-12 against whom he hasn’t thrown two TDs in a game at least once. . . . . Goff has set 26 Cal records, including career passing yards (10,805) and touchdowns (83). . . . Cal is tied for fifth nationally with 24 turnovers gained, but has just six in the past five games. . . . The Bears are 0-8 against the Pac-12’s in-state schools the past three seasons.

STANFORD STATS THAT MATTER: The 201 points Stanford has scored against Cal the past five seasons are the most either team has rung up over any five-game stretch in Big Game history. . . . . Stanford leads the Pac-12 in third-down conversions (49.6 percent) and third-down defense (34.8). . . . Stanford is 6-0 this season in night games. . . .Stanford is third in the conference in rushing (225.1 ypg). Cal is ninth in run defense (199.1). . . . Quarterback Kevin Hogan is 32-10 as a starter.


Basketball: Cal overcomes shooting woes to topple ECU

Warts and all, it was a victory Cal coach Cuonzo Martin was happy to pocket.

The No. 15 Bears labored against East Carolina’s zone defense, shooting 3 for 23 from the 3-point arc and turning the ball over 15 times. They also missed 12 free throws and allowed the Pirates to stay close until pulling away for a 70-62 win in front of an announced crowd of 8,658 fans at Haas Pavilion on Friday night.

“I’d always like to be on the winning side of learning lessons rather than the losing side. You want this early,” Martin said.

Freshmen Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown each had double-doubles and senior Tyrone Wallace made four free throws in the final 40 seconds as the Bears held off the visitors from the American Athletic Conference.

“We just have to get better,” said Wallace, who finished with 20 points. “I think it’s good to be tested. Our shots weren’t falling. We faced a little adversity. But never once did we have our heads down.”

Rabb overcame foul trouble with post 14 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, and Brown had 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Bears crushed the Pirates (2-1) on the boards, outrebounding them 45-26, including 19 offensive rebounds that led to 24 second-chance points.

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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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Basketball: Bears rout Rice in promising opener


The No. 14 Cal basketball team gave a curious opening-night crowd of 10,530 plenty of reasons to return to Haas Pavilion this season.

The Bears introduced freshman Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown to a game-night atmosphere on the way to a 97-65 victory over Rice on Friday night.

Rabb, whose most recent official game on this floor was in a high school state championship win for nearby Bishop O’Dowd, had 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots over 16 minutes in his college debut.

Brown, a consensus top-5 national prospect out of suburban Atlanta, scored 14 points, despite four fouls and a second-half bloody nose that limited him to 15 minutes on the floor.

“They showed me they’re ready,” junior guard Jordan Mathews said of the two ultra-hyped freshmen. “They showed us all they’re ready.”

The buzz of expectation is significant for this team, which was didn’t even make the NIT last year but was projected by three ESPN analysts as a Final Four team. Cal’s most recent visit to the national semifinals was 1960 – when John F. Kennedy was a candidate for president and Wilt Chamberlain an NBA rookie.

With three starting guards back to provide leadership and stability, second-year coach Cuonzo Martin has a roster with more talent than any Cal team since the days of Jason Kidd more than two decades ago.

“It was definitely a great experience playing in the first game,” Brown said. “There was a lot of excitement building up. I had a good time. Ready for the next one. We’re just scratching the surface.”

Rabb, who said Martin had the team “overprepared,” was unhappy with his three fouls but thought he otherwise played well. “A few times I got a little confused out there,” he said.

Martin was satisfied with both rookies given the first time out.

“Offensively, they both played well,” Martin said. “Every game will present something different for those guys.”

Senior all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace provided 20 points, six rebounds and eight assists against the visitors from Conference USA. Wallace shot 9 for 12 from the field.

Junior Jordan Mathews scored 13 points – including 11 in the first half – and junior Jabari Bird contributed 11.

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Basketball: Hype gives way to tipoff as Bears take on Rice

All the preseason hype will move to the side Friday night when the Cal basketball team opens its season against Rice at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 8:30 pm on Pac-12 Networks.

The buildup has been considerable for the 14th-ranked Golden Bears.

Three ESPN analysts have gone as far as projecting Cal as a Final Four team.

The last time that happened – in 1960 — JFK hadn’t yet been elected president and Wilt Chamberlain was an NBA rookie.

Second-year coach Cuonzo Martin is neither embracing the attention nor shunning it.

“As far as the predictions, we control what we control,” he said. “As a coach, I don’t try to steer those guys clear of that information. You can’t shelter guys their whole life. That’s information. We get it, we discuss and move on.”

So, no worries that his team – including highly touted freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb – might let all this go to their heads?

“The way they walk, I don’t see it,” Martin said. “They walk with a level of humility as a team.”

Senior Tyrone Wallace, the Bears’ all-Pac-12 point guard, says he mostly ignores the buzz.

I don’t really pay attention to it, so it’s easy for me,” he said. “We just try to keep our heads straight and focus on what’s in front of us.

“The most important thing is we believe in ourselves.”

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Football: Oregon thrashes Bears 44-28

The rain didn’t matter this time.

Oregon spotted Cal to a 10-point lead Saturday night at Autzen Stadium, then took charge with a 31-point first-half blitz on the way to a 44-28 victory in front of 56,604 fans.

Two years after the Ducks drowned the Bears 55-16 in an Oregon downpour, it was Cal’s inclement play – not the sometimes rainy conditions – that set the tone.

Oregon ran up 446 yards in the first half – more than the Bears had given up in six of their previous eight games — and sent Cal (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) to its fourth straight defeat. The Ducks wound up with a school-record 777 yards of total offense.

“We did not play well defensively,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I didn’t think we played well on either side of the ball. It didn’t have anything to do with the weather.”

The Bears get another shot at a sixth win and bowl eligibility next Saturday in Berkeley against an Oregon State team that dropped to 0-6 in Pac-12 play after a 41-0 loss to UCLA. Cal has now lost seven straight games over two seasons when trying to become bowl eligible.

“It’s going to test our character. It’s something coach Dykes just talked to us about. How are we going to respond? It’s a three-week season,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “If we want to go to a bowl game we’ve got to start winning.”

The Bears still have not beaten any of the league’s perennial heavyweights in three seasons under Dykes. They are now 0-11 against Oregon, USC, UCLA and Stanford in three seasons, and 1-8 in the month of November.

The Ducks (6-3, 4-2) beat the Bears for the seventh straight time, and have outscored them 317-132 during the streak.

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Football: Frustrated Golden Bears lose third in a row as drought vs. USC reaches 12 games


Disappointment and anger after its two previous defeats turned to unbridled frustration for Cal on Saturday after a 27-21 loss to USC in front of 52,060 fans in the Joe Roth Memorial Game.

There was frustration over an official’s call but even more over another offensive performance that has the Bears wondering what has gone wrong.

“I think we’re all frustrated,” coach Sonny Dykes said after the Bears lost their third game in a row and dropped their 12th straight to the Trojans. “We should be playing better than we’re playing on offense, no question about it. We’ve got to get it figured out.”

The Bears, who averaged 51 points in their first three games of the season, were held to season-low totals for yards (389) and points and have failed to reach 25 points the past three games.

“As an offense, we believe we’re underachieving tremendously,” senior receiver Bryce Treggs added. “We have way too much talent, we’re way too good to only be scoring 21 points.”

The Bears (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) had so many possibilities after starting the season 5-0. They were disappointed with themselves for turning the ball over six times in a 30-24 road loss to then-unbeaten Utah and upset by their worst effort of the season in a 40-24 loss at UCLA.

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Basketball: Bears beat WSU, end 6-game skid

FINAL SCORE: Cal 76, WSU 67. Cal ends its six-game losing streak with a much-needed win. Wallace had 26 points — his best game in weeks — and Mathews came alive when the Bears needed him most, scoring nine of their final 12 points. Chauca had a career-high 10 points to go with three assists and three rebounds off the bench. Bird show signs of coming alive with 12 points and eight rebounds. Cal (12-9, 2-6) won despite the fact that through 36 minutes it got just four points combined from Kravish and Mathews. After just four Cal players scored in Saturday’s loss to Arizona, nine different Bears got in the scorebook. And all nine scored in the second half.

For a team that hasn’t had success lately, the Bears showed some toughness, losing all of a 12-point, second-half lead, then outscoring the Cougars (9-11, 3-5) by a 12-2 margin over the final 3 1/2 minutes. WSU did not make a field goal after 5:47 was left to play.

Cal won the rebounding battle 40-32 and had just four turnovers after the first 11 minutes of the game. The Bears had a 32-20 scoring edge in the paint, thanks mostly to aggressive drives by Wallace and Mathews. The Bears shot 50 percent and held the Cougars to 33 percent, including 26.7 percent in the second half.

Coupled with USC’s triple-overtime loss to Colorado, the Bears climb out of last place in the Pac-12 standings.

Next: Sunday at Washington, noon. A Super Bowl pre-game show.

0:25.2 2nd H: Cal 75, WSU 67. Kingsley Okoroh just hit two free throws — he was 4 for 10 for the season — and Cal will win. Mathews has nine points in the final 3:13.

1:34 2nd H: Cal 70, WSU 67. Mathews, scoreless through nearly 37 minutes, has scored Cal’s last six points, including a 3-point play, giving the Bears their three-point margin.

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Basketball: ASU game thread

My game story:

Rock bottom doesn’t describe the Cal basketball team’s first-half performance in a 79-45 loss to Arizona State in front of an announced crowd of 7,469 fans on Thursday night.

The Bears went 13 minutes, 2 seconds without scoring, allowing the Sun Devils to zoom into a 34-13 halftime lead in a matchup of teams that entered the night in a three-way tie for last place in the Pac-12 standings.

By the time it was over, Cal had absorbed its second-worst home defeat ever, its worst since a 36-point loss to ASU in 1979.

And the Bears had a seven-day break between games to prepare for this.

“We worked on our offense, trying to get some flow,” David Kravish said of those practices. “That didn’t happen.”

First-year coach Cuonzo Martin took the heat afterward.

“It’s my job as a coach to get our guys ready to play and compete. I didn’t do a very good job of it,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I saw this coming.”

The Bears (11-8, 1-5) have now lost seven of eight games since a 10-1 start and are tied with USC for last Pac-12. And guess what? No. 7 Arizona comes to Haas Pavilion on Saturday night.

“A new day tomorrow,” said guard Jordan Mathews, who led Cal with 11 points. “We’ve got to get ready for Arizona.”

A year ago, the Bears stunned the top-ranked and unbeaten Wildcats 60-58 at Haas.

“We played really hard, we played with a lot of energy, we believed in ourselves,” Kravish said of that victory. Asked if that belief is now shaken, he added, “I believe in every one of these guys.”

Martin stressed, “It’s one loss,” then recalled losing by 41 points to Indiana when he was a freshman at Purdue. “The key is you have to learn from it.”

The Bears’ first-half point total exceeded the five points they scored while shooting 2 for 25 in the opening period of a 57-44 loss to Notre Dame four years ago.

But for sheer lack of artistry, this one was stunning.

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