Football: Cal officially cleared for bowl game

Cal is officially cleared to play in a bowl game.

The Bears got word Wednesday that their season-opening 73-14 victory over Grambling State will count toward the six wins they need to be eligible to play in a bowl game.

Grambling, a Football Championship Subdivision school, confirmed to Cal that it meets the minimum requirements on scholarship totals so that the victory does count, per NCAA rules.

Spokesman Wes Mallette said Cal then confirmed with the NCAA that it is officially cleared to participate in the postseason.

Cal (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12) closes its regular-season schedule Saturday night at home against Arizona State.

The Bears became bowl eligible two weeks ago with a 54-24 win over Oregon State.


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: 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: 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.


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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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.


Big Game live updates: Cal vs. Stanford, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) claps after defeating Oregon State at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. California defeated Oregon State 54-24. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) claps after defeating Oregon State at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. California defeated Oregon State 54-24. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Get in-game news and analysis from the 118th Big Game at Stanford as the Cardinal face the Bears at 7:30 p.m.

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