Arizona State arrived in Berkeley on Saturday night as the national co-leader in sacks with 44. But Jared Goff threw 51 passes and was never sacked in Cal’s 48-46 victory, thanks to a strong effort by an offensive line that has grown in recent weeks.
“The O-line played a hell of a game,” Goff said. “I said it last week and the week before: they’ve kind of caught their rhythm and haven’t given up much pressure at all.”
The Bears have allowed Goff to be sacked just six times the past five games, despite him attempting 214 passes over that span.
“Jared did a great job. Arizona State blitzes people from everywhere and he got rid of the ball,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “I thought our offensive line really played well. It’s tough to pass protect against those guys.”
Goff’s elusiveness made it doubly tough for the ASU pass rush. He repeatedly stepped away from would-be tacklers, but also ran for 31 yards and scored a two-point conversion on a dash up the middle.
“Jared was scrambling, rolling out, making plays,” senior wide receiver Bryce Treggs said. “He was doing stuff even I didn’t know he could do.”
The Cal-Arizona State winner was expected to have the inside track to represent the Pac-12 in the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2 at Tempe, Arizona, although it’s not a lock. The game pits the No. 7 Pac-12 team against a team from the Big 12 Conference.
Cal athletic director Michael Williams, suggesting a half-dozen teams are looking at Cal, said before the game, “We think we have a very appealing team to the bowls. We have an exciting offense. And we think since it’s been a few years since we’ve been in a bowl, we should travel well.”