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Football: Cal-USC game thread

Bowl eligibility for the Cal football team will have to wait for another day.

The Golden Bears were no match for USC when it mattered Thursday night, losing 38-30 in front of 64,615 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and a nationwide ESPN audience.

Cal was hoping for a sixth win and the chance to play in the postseason for the first time in three years. Instead, the Trojans prevailed for the 11th straight time – matching their longest win streak in the century-old series.

The Bears trailed 31-2 late in the first half before making things briefly interesting late. Jared Goff’s third touchdown pass of the game, a 29-yarder to Stephen Anderson with 1:36 left, got Cal within eight points.

USC averted further drama by recovering Cal’s onside kick try. The Trojans then ran out the clock.

“It’s discouraging because we lost,” Goff said. “We played well at times and probably worse at more times.

“If you’re going to beat a team like USC, or any good team in this conference, you can’t shoot yourself in the foot,” he said of the Bears’ poor start. ”It put us too far behind.”

Nothing worked for Cal early in this one. Not only was the Bears’ beleaguered defense once more taken apart, but their high-scoring offense was stifled by the Trojans.

Goff was hounded much of the night and running back Daniel Lasco often found nowhere to run. Goff finished with 279 passing yards, but had just 96 at halftime. Lasco ran for 53 of his 86 yards after halftime when the Trojans were content to protect a lead.

“It shows that we’re still not there,” Lasco said.

The Bears (5-5, 3-5 Pac-12) have two more chances to secure bowl eligibility, beginning a week from Saturday against a Stanford team that beat them 63-13 a year ago. Cal closes its season a week after that with a home game against BYU.

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Basketball: Cal vs. CS San Marcos game thread

FINAL SCORE: Cal 74, Cal State San Marcos 52. Tyrone Wallace and Jabari Bird each scored 13 points and Jordan Mathews had 12.

Coach Cuonzo Martin was upbeat after the game, praising his team’s defense, focus, willingness to play physical and its ability to attack the 3-2 zone after a slow start.

“I thought they did a great job across the board,” he said.

The Bears open their regular season a week from Friday at home against Alcorn State as part of the 2K Classic.

“I’m really excited about this year and the team we have,” Bird said. “ I think we’re ready to get the season started.”

Wallace saw lots that he liked about the team’s performance and a few things that need more attention.

“We still need to get better rebounding,” he said after the Bears forged a modest 36-29 edge on the boards against a smaller team. “Our movement on offense . . . sometimes we tend to hold the ball when guys are open.

“Overall, we’re pretty good right now. Everybody’s playing hard. We’re trying to do the right things.”

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Football: Cal-Oregon State game thread

In a topsy-turvy season where the Cal football team has had countless chances to win and lose – and has done both in dramatic fashion – Saturday night’s 45-31 come-from-behind win at Oregon State points the Bears toward something big.

With one win in their final three games, the Bears will be eligible for their first bowl game since 2011. Pretty heady stuff for a team that was 1-11 a year ago and rarely competitive.

“It’s definitely kind of a turning point in our season,” quarterback Jared Goff said after Cal squandered a 27-10 third-quarter lead, then rallied from a 31-27 hole to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Bears (5-4, 3-4 in Pac-12) scored 18 points in the final 8:42 to win in the state of Oregon for the first time since 2007 after six straight defeats.

They were prepared for a night like this after four conference games decided by four points or less, including a Hail Mary heartbreaker at Arizona, a double-overtime defeat of Colorado and a 60-59 triumph at Washington State.

“The good thing is we’ve been in enough games like this, we’ve been able to preach just keep playing,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “We did lose the momentum and the crowd got involved. But I’m proud of the guys for keeping their wits about them.”

A loss could have been catastrophic, requiring the Bears to win two more against a season-ending gauntlet that begins (after a bye) with a Nov. 13 game at USC, before home matchups against Stanford and BYU.

“I’m excited right now, but come (Sunday), we start focusing on USC,” said Daniel Lasco, who rushed for a career-high 188 yards and three touchdowns.

“This was a huge win. We all knew it coming into the game. We were sitting at 4-4 and I kept telling the team we’re 0-0. Now we’re 1-0. This train isn’t going to stop right here.”

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Football: Cal vs. Oregon State facts

Cal vs. Oregon State

KICKOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.

TV/RADIO: Pac-12 Networks; 810-AM.

RECORDS: Cal 4-4, 2-4 in Pac-12; Oregon State 4-3, 1-3.

SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads 34-32. Oregon Steve has won two in a row, including 49-17 in 2013.

STORYLINES: With four games left, Cal must win at least twice to become bowl eligible for the first time since the 2011 season. After OSU, the Bears have a bye, then play at USC and at home vs. Stanford and BYU. . . . Cal has not won a game in the state of Oregon since 2007, losing the past six to OSU and Oregon by a combined margin of 271-76. Only one of those six was closer than 28 points. . . . OSU senior quarterback and Pleasanton native Sean Mannion needs 194 passing yards to eclipse the Pac-12 career record of 12,327, set by USC’s Matt Barkley (2009-12). . . . OSU has won just one of its past nine Pac-12 games.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: S Avery Sebastian (quadriceps), WR Trevor Davis (neck), WR Kenny Lawler (ankle) and DE Brennan Scarlett (knee) are out. Oregon State: RB Storm Woods (knee) will play; DE Jashwa James (knee) is questionable; DE Lavonte Barnett (ankle) is doubtful; WR Richard Mullaney (elbow), OL Gavin Andrews (ankle), C Isaac Seumalo (foot), TE Kellen Clute (knee), DT Jalen Grimble (knee), DT Noke Tago (knee) are out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s defensive front vs. Oregon State’s offensive line. The Beavers started three sophomores on their O-line last week and got nowhere against Stanford’s stout defense. OSU has absorbed 23 sacks and ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in rushing. Cal’s defensive key is to stop the run and put pressure on quarterback Sean Mannion, who has a big arm but limited mobility. The Bears have defended the run well this season, but are 106th nationally with just 11 sacks.

STATS THAT MATTER: Cal has generated 19 offensive plays of at least 40 yards this season, compared to just 14 all of last season. . . . QB Jared Goff needs 217 passing yards to move past Gale Gilbert into sixth on Cal’s career list. . . . Cal has scored 26 touchdowns on drives of less than 2 minutes, second in the Pac-12 (behind Oregon with 28). OSU has just seven TD drives of that brevity. . . . Freshman reserve QB Luke Rubenzer, in just 48 combined rushes and passes, has produced five touchdowns for the Bears.

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Football: OSU game critical if Bears want a bowl game

The trick for the Cal football team is to turn four into five.

“Everybody’s trying to play five more games and we only have four on the schedule,” running back Daniel Lasco said. “We have to figure out a way to (win) two more.”

Each of the four remaining games counts the same, but if the Bears (4-4, 2-4 Pac-12) realistically hope to reach six victories and become bowl eligible their game Saturday night at Oregon State (4-3, 1-3) is critical.

The rest of the schedule gets no easier, with games at USC and at home against Stanford and BYU. To get that fifth game, the Bears can do no worse than split these four.

Quarterback Jared Goff said the Bears don’t have the luxury of picking which games they want to win.

“I’d like to win four of them, really. Even more important than that, we would like to win this one this weekend,” Goff said. “We can’t really think about the future. You can’t really try to add it up: `We have to win this one, we can’t win that one.’ ”

No they can’t, but there’s no denying the USC and Stanford games will be challenges for the Bears. The Trojans have won 10 straight in the series, and the Cardinal set a Big Game record with a 50-point margin of victory last season.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Football: Cal-Oregon game thread

The first college football game at Levi’s Stadium featured 100 points, thousands of green-and-gold clad Oregon fans and Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota’s first intercepted pass in 11 months.

The Bears put up 28 first-half points, but the No. 6 Ducks never stopped scoring on the way to a 59-41 victory.

Mariota threw five touchdown passes – three in the first half – and the Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) beat Cal for the sixth straight time. Oregon has scored 173 points in the past three meetings.

The Bears (4-4, 2-4) had their highest point total against Oregon since 2006, but never were closer than 17 points after Mariota’s 54-yard TD pass to San Jose native Byron Marshall just 95 seconds into the third quarter.

“They’ve got a couple speeds – their NASCAR super-fast speed and their normal tempo speed,” Cal safety Stephen McClure said. “We just couldn’t get off the field on third down.”

After starting the season 4-1, the Bears have dropped three straight, meaning they must win two of their final four games to become bowl eligible.

Cal lost its 15th straight game to a team ranked in the top-10 of the Associated Press poll, its 47th in 48 such matchups dating back to 1977. The Bears haven’t beaten a top-10 team other than USC since 1969.

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Football: Cal-UCLA game thread

There was relief among Cal’s football players that teammate Trevor Davis wasn’t more seriously injured Saturday, but no solace otherwise after a 36-34 loss to UCLA at Memorial Stadium.

“Bottom line: we lost the game,” linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr. said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

After six lead changes kept a crowd of 49,257 wondering if the Bears could steal an eighth straight home victory from the Bruins, the place went silent for 10 minutes when Davis was injured on a kickoff return with 3:34 left.

The Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) had gone ahead to stay moments earlier on a 26-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn.

Davis was taken to a local hospital for tests, but was moving his extremities and talking, coach Sonny Dykes said.

That was practically the only good news Saturday for the Bears (4-3, 2-3), who now take a two-game losing streak into a Friday matchup against No. 9 Oregon at Levi’s Stadium. The Ducks have beaten Cal five straight times, including by a whopping margin of 157-48 the past three years.

The math the Bears face in pursuit of six victories to be bowl eligible is becoming more difficult.

“Oregon’s going to be a must-win game for us,” linebacker Michael Barton said. “I think it’s going to be the defining point of our season.”

That might have come Saturday had Cal been able to finish its final drive of the game. Undaunted by the injury to their teammate, the Bears moved quickly from their own 23-yard line to the UCLA 36 when quarterback Jared Goff threw deep down the right sideline to Kenny Lawler, who was working against man coverage.

Marcus Rios intercepted the pass as he tumbled over the pylon at goal line, and Cal’s comeback bid was finished with 51 seconds left on the clock.

“Jared saw press coverage, saw the matchup he liked,” Dykes said. “The guy made a play on the football.”

Goff said it was the same play in which he threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Lawler, giving the Bears a 34-33 lead with 6:50 left.

“I thought I’d get it again,” he said. “I kind of forced it.”

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Football: Cal-Washington game thread

The nation’s second-highest scoring offense could not find the end zone Saturday until it didn’t matter.

Cal, which entered the day averaging 50 points a game, was shut out in the first half and never threatened Washington in a 31-7 defeat before 44,449 fans at Memorial Stadium.

But none of the Bears, starting with coach Sonny Dykes, was willing to say that Cal was in over its head against a higher-level foe after starting the season 4-1.

“I thought it was more us than it was our opponent today,” Dykes said. “I want to give Washington credit — they played very well and had a good game plan. But we need to own that (loss) more than to say we played somebody better.”

The Bears had scored no fewer than 45 points in their four previous games, but UW’s defense took away quarterback Jared Goff’s ability to throw the ball downfield, and the offense rarely found any rhythm.

“Hold them to seven points?” first-year UW coach Chris Petersen said. “I didn’t think that would happen.”

Tied for first in the Pac-12 North when the day began, the Bears (4-2, 2-2) looked overmatched against the Huskies (5-1, 1-1), who won for the sixth straight time in the series. Goff was sacked four times and the Bears fumbled five times, losing three of them.

“It was us,” running back Daniel Lasco said. “Everybody was saying we can score 50 points easily. I feel like a lot of people bought into it, and they didn’t realize how hard it is to win a football game.”

“We might have gotten a little complacent,” Goff agreed. “We have full confidence in ourselves. We have UCLA this week … go get them.”

Click here to read the rest of this story.

One-time Cal commit Shaq Thompson turned the game in Washington’s direction with one play.

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Football: Cal-WSU game thread

Here is my game story from late Saturday night. As you might imagine, things got a little hectic in the second half, so my apologies I was unable to update the blog through after halftime:

*****

This one wasn’t just crazy, it was ridiculous.

Cal, which had been part of games the previous two weeks that produced 209 total points, contributed to a new level of football insanity Saturday night at Washington State.

The Bears and Cougars combined for eight touchdowns in the first 13 minutes of the third quarter before Cal emerged from the statistical orgy with a 60-59 victory in front of 30,020 fans at Martin Stadium.

The victory wasn’t assured until WSU’s Quentin Breshears missed wide right on a 19-yard field goal – essentially a PAT – with 15 seconds left.

“It was kind of like the football gods are on our side,” Cal quarterback Jared Goff said.

Goff, who broke his own single-game Cal record with 527 yards, put the Bears ahead to stay with his fifth touchdown pass of the night, a 51-yarder to Trevor Davis with 3:18 left. Cal’s try for a two-point conversion failed.

The victory allowed the Bears (4-1, 2-1 in Pac-12) to match their victory total of the past two seasons combined and made them 4-1 for the first time since 2008. It also lifted them into sole possession of the Pac-12 North Division lead.

“We’ll start worrying about who’s in what place at the end of the season.” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said, alluding to the fact the Bears have seven games to play, starting next Saturday at home against Washington.

It was a heart-breaker for the Cougars (2-4, 1-2) and quarterback Connor Halliday, who broke the NCAA all-division single-game passing record with 734 yards. He threw six touchdowns.

Goff called the game the most fun he’s had on a football field, and his receivers agreed after the Bears, down 24-13 at the intermission, scored touchdowns on all seven of their second-half possessions.

“We always talk about going out there and scoring 60 points,” said Bryce Treggs, who caught 10 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. “We might as well go for 70. Why not?”

“Seventy-five,” chimed in Davis.

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Football: Cal defense will try to be better, not different

Cal will mix its defenses tonight against Washington State, throw in some blitzes, and hope to get a lift off the bench from cornerbacks Darius White and Joel Willis, apparently healthy at last and ready to contribute.

“You’ve got to fire all your bullets,” coach Sonny Dykes said of how the Bears will approach coach Mike Leach’s pass-happy offense.

But don’t expect an entirely new look from the Bears. There will be no surprise defensive renovation, no new tricks to throw off the Cougars.

They won’t work, Dykes said, because he has seen teams try.

During his tenure working under Leach at Texas Tech, Dykes said more than one opponent showed up on game night with a dramatic, new defensive twist.

“Anytime we saw that we always knew it was going to play into our hands,” Dykes recalled. “In some ways that’s what they want you do to, make a bunch of drastic changes and use a bunch of new coverages.

“They just do their thing. You always have to resist temptation of using a bunch of new schemes because they’re going to be really good at what they do so you better be good at what you do.”

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