Football: Bears headed Down Under to open 2016

The Cal football team will open its 2016 season against the University of Hawaii in Sydney, Australia. The game will be played at ANZ Stadium on August 27.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for our student-athletes and an excellent opportunity to see and learn about another culture,” Bears coach Sonny Dykes said in a statement.

“It is a great day for college football and all the fans of our sport,” Dykes added. “It shows the popularity college football is gaining, and we’re ready to help further introduce the sport to many more fans.”

The game will be played in ANZ Stadium, which was originally constructed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The facility now holds 83,000 fans.

Scout.com first reported that Cal would open the season in Australia, although negotiations for the game have been under way for weeks. The game will be called the Sydney Cup.

The Bears’ game against Hawaii replaces the previously scheduled Sept. 3 game against South Dakota, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent. Cal will return from Sydney and have a bye before traveling to San Diego State on Sept. 10 and playing Texas in Berkeley on Sept. 17 to close out its nonconference schedule.

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Basketball: Cal to play in 2017 Maui Invitational

Mark your calendars — if you have one that includes November 2017.

Cal will participate in the 2017 Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center, Nov. 20-22 . . . two years from now.

Other schools confirmed in the field, according to the event’s website, are Michigan, Notre Dame, VCU, LSU, Marquette, Wichita State and host Chaminade.

Cal will make its third trip to Maui, having participated in 1996 and 2013.


Basketball: Get your fill of Pac-12 hoops on Friday

Ready for some Pac-12 basketball?

Ten teams from the Pac-12 Conference will debut Friday — with nine of them playing on the various Pac-12 Networks. Here’s the schedule:

No. 7 Iowa State vs. COLORADO (1) 3 p.m. MT ESPN2
Sacramento State at ARIZONA STATE 5:30 p.m. MT PAC12
San Diego at USC 5 p.m. PT PAC12
Northern Arizona at WASHINGTON STATE 5:30 p.m. PT PAC12
Wisconsin Green Bay at STANFORD 6 p.m. PT PAC12
Pacific at No. 12 ARIZONA 7:30 p.m. MT PAC12
Jackson State at OREGON 7 p.m. PT PAC12
Southern Utah at No. 16 UTAH 8:30 p.m. MT PAC12
Monmouth at UCLA 8 p.m. PT PAC12
Rice at No. 14 CALIFORNIA 8:30 p.m. PT PAC12

By the way, handling game analysis for the Cal-Rice match will be Ben Braun — who coached at both schools.


Football notes: Cal @ Oregon kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.

Cal’s game a week from Saturday at Oregon has been set for a 7:30 pm kickoff.

The game will be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2.


Kyle Kragen was named to the midseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award given annually to the nation’s top defensive end.

The senior from Pleasanton is tied for second in the Pac-12 with five sacks and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for his performance in the Bears’ win at Washington.


Football: Cal-USC kickoff set for noon

Cal’s football game against USC on Saturday at Memorial Stadium will kick off at noon, the Pac-12 Conference announced.

The game will be aired on FOX.

The Bears (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) have dropped their past two games after a 5-0 start that pushed them as high as No. 20 in the Associated Press Top-25.Cal fell 40-24 at UCLA on Thursday night.

Cal has lost 11 straight games to USC (4-3, 2-2), which delivered its most impressive performance of a tumultuous season Saturday with a 42-24 thrashing of No. 3 Utah.

The Trojans had lost two in a row, including by a 41-31 margin at Notre Dame in their first game since coach Steve Sarkisian was fired, in part, because of alcohol issues.


Football: Despite ranking, Cal fighting for respect

Top-25 voters and Las Vegas oddsmakers have reached no consensus about the Cal football team, which is ranked 20th in the AP poll but is an underdog Thursday night to an unranked UCLA team that has lost its past two games by double-digit margins.

“Yeah, it kind of bothers me,” receiver Stephen Anderson said of the Bears’ underdog status. “I feel like we haven’t gotten the respect we deserve to this point. In order to get that, you have to keep winning.

“There’s only three college football games that night. We’re the prime-time college game. We have to come out with a big performance.”

The Bears were very much in the spotlight a week ago Saturday when they faced Utah in a battle of the Pac-12’s two remaining unbeaten teams. Cal lost 30-24 on the road to a Utah squad now ranked No. 3, and managed to holds its No. 23 spot in the rankings. After a bye week, the Bears (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) climbed three spots Sunday.

“I guess they liked the way we played. I don’t know what they would like about it,” said Cal quarterback Jared Goff, who threw a career-high five interceptions in the loss.

Coach Sonny Dykes admitted Monday he didn’t even know that UCLA (4-2, 1-2) was made anywhere from a 3½ to a 7-point favorite for their game at the Rose Bowl until someone mentioned it to him.

UCLA is coming off a 56-35 loss at Stanford in a game it trailed by 36 points entering the fourth quarter. The Bruins lost 38-23 to Arizona State the week before.

But Dykes understands why his program – which produced a 1-11 season just two years ago – has not yet won over everyone. The Bears have not beaten the Bruins in Pasadena since 2009, although they lost just 36-34 last year at home.

“I think respect is earned and it’s not easily earned,” he said. “We have to continue to play well to earn people’s respect.”


Freshman defensive end Cameron Saffle, who spent the summer and first five games of this season rehabbing after ACL knee surgery, played at Utah because he was physically ready and willing, Dykes explained. “We think he’s going to help us win games down the stretch,” Dykes said.


This is the first week since 1993 that both Cal (No. 20) and Stanford (No. 10) are ranked in the AP Top-25 and USC and UCLA are not.


Football: `Strong likelihood’ Cal will face Hawaii in Australia in 2016

Cal is close to agreeing to play the University of Hawaii in a football game in Australia next season, according to sources.

Both schools have had conversations with an Australian promoter and plans could be finalized within the next few weeks.

A source close to the Cal athletic department said there is a “strong likelihood” the game will be scheduled.

David Matlin, athletic director for Hawaii, recently told Hawaii News Now that the athletic department is negotiating to schedule the game. Cal athletic director Michael Williams could not immediately be reached for comment.

No date for the game has been finalized, but speculation is the Bears and Rainbow Warriors would meet Aug. 27, possibly in Sydney.

Cal currently is scheduled to open its 2016 season at home against South Dakota State, a Football Championship Subdivision team, on Sept. 3. If the Bears scratch that game from their schedule, they could return from Down Under and have a bye week to rest and recover from travel before playing again.

The Bears’ other two nonconference games are Sept. 10 at San Diego State and Sept. 17 at home against Texas, both return games vs. Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

Cal’s basketball team enjoyed a successful four-game tour of Australia this summer. The Bears’ football never has played in Australia, but did face Washington State in Tokyo, Japan in 1987.