Football: Bears celebrate a big defensive effort

It was exactly 1,400 days earlier – when Jared Goff was 17 years old and Sonny Dykes was coaching at Louisiana Tech – since Cal’s defense held an opponent to fewer than 10 points.

“That’s the first look at the new and improved Cal defense,” Goff, the junior quarterback, said after the Bears held San Diego State scoreless on their final 13 possessions in a 35-7 win in front of 50,830 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“I look forward to a lot more of that coming up,” Goff said.

No one could have been happier – or perhaps more relieved – than Dykes, whose defense delivered its best performance during his tenure as Cal coach. In 22 games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams his first two years the Bears held just one opponent under 30 points.

“It was almost like an old-fashioned football game. I had to pinch myself,” Dykes said. “It was great to see our defense play this way. I’m really proud of those guys. It’s amazing what confidence will mean to a young person.”

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Football: Cal 35, San Diego State 7

FINAL: Cal 35, San Diego State 7.

Jared Goff three touchdowns, but the Cal defense was the star of the show in front of 50,830 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

An anchor that dragged down the Bears on a weekly basis last year, the Cal defense forced two turnovers and held the Aztecs without a point on their final 13 possessions after allowing a touchdown on the game’s opening drive.

For the first time in coach Sonny Dykes’ 26 games, the Bears held an opponent to a single touchdown.

The Pac-12’s worst defense a year ago, allowing 39.8 points per game, Cal has now surrendered just 21 points in its first two games. In 2014, the Bears held just one of 11 FBS opponents under 30 points.

Goff threw one touchdown each to Darius Powe, Maurice Harris and Trevor Davis and finished with 321 yards on 17-for-24 accuracy. He moved past Kyle Boller into second place on Cal’s career passing yardage record with 8,111, but did not attempt a pass in the fourth quarter and finished 15 yards shy of equaling Troy Taylor’s 26-year-old standard.

The Bears (2-0) now head to Texas next Saturday to take on a rebuilding Longhorns program they have not beaten in five tries dating back to 1959.

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Football: Bears roar to victory in season opener

Not even the spectacular Grambling State marching band could rescue its football team Saturday against Cal.

The Golden Bears rang up a school-record 52 first-half points and rolled to a 73-14 victory in their season opener in front of 60,606 delighted fans at Memorial Stadium.

The crowd was entertained at halftime by the “World Famed Tiger Marching Band” after watching the Bears hit all the right notes in the first half. Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes to Kenny Lawler and the defense scored on interception returns by Cameron Walker and Devante Downs.

Goff assembled his 13th career 300-yard passing game in the first half alone, then watched the rest from the sideline as the Bears easily dispatched their Football Championship Subdivision foe from Louisiana.

“I think we just wanted to go out there and be sharp,” Goff said. “In almost all facets, we were pretty sharp on almost every drive.”

Two seasons removed from a 1-11 debut under coach Sonny Dykes, the Bears had their second-highest point total in a game since 1937, exceeded only by the 86 points they scored against Pacific in the 1991 opener.

The Bears’ defense, which surrendered a Pac-12-worst 39.8 points per game last season, fell short of racking up the school’s first shutout since a 28-0 win over Arizona in 2005. Grambling scored twice after Cal led 66-0 early in the fourth quarter.

Still, it was a breakthrough day for the defense that had not produced a touchdown in Dykes’ first two seasons.

“The sign of a good defensive football team is when they can create havoc,” said Dykes of a unit that intercepted four passes and had three sacks.

“Hopefully, it’s the first step of our defense getting on the same level as our offense,” Walker said. “We’ve been talked bad about since I got here. It’s finally time to get rid of that and make forward strides.”

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Football: Cal vs. Grambling game thread

FINAL: Cal 73, Grambling State 14.

The Bears finish with their second-highest point total in a game since 1937, exceeded only by the 86 points they scored against Pacific in 1991.

Chase Forrest was 10 for 17 for 162 yards, including a 63-yard TD pass to Bug Rivera, nephew to former Cal star linebacker and Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera.

Halftime: Cal 52, Grambling State 0.

It’s the most points the Bears have EVER scored in any half of football, eclipsing the 51 they rang up against Pacific in 1991. Cal won that one 86-24.

Jared Goff at halftime: 24 for 32 for 309 yards and three touchdowns — all of them to Kenny Lawler — covering 3, 19 and 16 yards. Three of the eight passes Goff did not complete — including his one interception — were dropped or deflected by his own receivers.

Redshirt freshman Chase Forrest has started the third quarter. As expected, Goff is done for the afternoon.

Interception returns for touchdowns of 14 yards by Cameron Walker and 8 yards by Devante Downs.

TD runs of 4 yards by Daniel Lasco and 2 yards by Vic Enwere. And a 20-yard field goal by Matt Anderson.

Cal has not shut out an opponent since a 28-0 won over Arizona on Oct. 1, 2005 — nearly 10 years and 120 games ago.

Total yards at half: Cal 415, Grambling 128.

First downs: Cal 19, Grambling 9.

Halftime marching band score: Grambling in a rout.

Attendance: 60,606. And they’re loving all of this — the weather, the score, the bands.


Football: Cal vs. Grambling State game facts


2014 RECORDS: Cal 5-7, 3-6 in the Pac-12. Grambling State 7-5, 6-2 in SWAC.

KICKOFF: 2 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

TV: Pac-12 Networks.


SERIES HISTORY: First meeting.

STORYLINES: As a 43 1/2-point favorite, Cal is not expected to be seriously challenged in this one, but the game will be a proving ground of sorts for various players or position groups. Will newly installed kicker Matt Anderson deliver? Can the Bears’ secondary contain what appears to be a strong Grambling receiving corps? Can the revamped defensive front pressure and contain dual-threat quarterback Johnathan Williams? Can the offensive line allow the Bears to begin establishing the running game they hope will balance their attack? We won’t have all the answers after one game, but perhaps a hint of things to come.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal — S Griffin Piatt (knee) and LB Aisea Tongilava (toe) are out. LB Nathan Broussard (knee) is probable. Grambling — None reported.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s offensive line vs. Grambling’s pass rush. The Tigers recorded 45 sacks last year to lead the Football Championship Subdivision. Cal coach Sonny Dykes said Grambling stunts and blitzes out of a 3-3 alignment, but quarterback Jared Goff said he doesn’t expect pressure to be a significant problem.

STATS THAT MATTER: Cal is 8-0 all-time vs. FCS opponents and Grambling is 2-13 vs. Football Bowl Subdivision teams, without a win since 1985. … Goff enters his junior season needing 546 passing yards to break Troy Taylor’s career school record of 8,126, set 26 seasons ago. … Joe Starkey begins his 41st season as Cal’s radio play-by-play man, making him the sixth-longest tenured radio announcer in the country.


Football: BYU is Cal’s final chance for bowl eligibility

Cal coach Sonny Dykes sees something more than the tangible benefits – extra practice time, a boost to recruiting – that a win over BYU Saturday and bowl eligibility would provide his program.

“The most important thing is just the psyche of our players, feeling they really accomplished something,” said Dykes, whose program progressed from one victory last season to five so far this fall. “That part would be really critical, just from where we were to being in the bowl discussion would be a credit to those players.”

Cal (5-6) and BYU (7-4) kick off at 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, with the Bears needing that sixth win to become eligible for its first bowl game since 2011.

Given the circumstances, this ranks as perhaps the most important nonconference game Cal has ever played, or at least since 2001, when a season-ending win at Rutgers allowed the Bears to avoid their first winless season.

“This is kind of like a playoff game and we’re treating it as such,” wide receiver Chris Harper said.

“We know what’s at stake,” guard Alejandro Crosthwaite said. “We’re hungry. We all love each other – the chemistry has been ridiculous – and we want the extra month.”

Dykes addressed the bowl situation to his team just once – immediately after last Saturday’s Big Game loss to Stanford. “Everybody knew it,” running back Daniel Lasco said.

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Football: Cal vs. BYU facts

Cal vs. BYU

KICKOFF: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, Berkeley.

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

RECORDS: BYU 7-4; Cal 5-6.

SERIES HISTORY: BYU leads 2-1. Cal won the most recent meeting, 35-28, at the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl as Marshawn Lynch rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

STORYLINES: Cal needs a win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. The Bears started the season 4-1, but have lost five of their past six. . . . BYU, in its fourth season as an independent, has won its past three games against teams with a combined record of 8-27, including a 64-0 win last week over Savannah State, an FCS team with an 0-12 mark. . . . BYU lost four games in a row at midseason after star quarterback Taysom Hill broke his leg. But replacement Christian Stewart, originally a walkon from a Utah junior college, has thrown for 1,829 yards and 17 touchdowns the past seven games. . . . This is the first time Cal has closed its regular season with a nonconference game since facing Southern Miss in a 2004 game that was moved from Sept. 16 to Dec. 4 because of the threat of Hurricane Ivan on the Gulf Coast.

INJURY UPDATE: Cal: LB Jalen Jefferson (shoulder) is questionable; LB Jake Kearney (abdomen) is doubtful; DT David Davis (knee) is out; BYU: RB Algernon Brown (ankle) and WR Jordan Leslie (ankle) are probable; LB Fred Warner (back) is out.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s offensive line vs. BYU’s defensive front. The Bears need a stout effort from the men who block for quarterback Jared Goff, held to a season-low 182 passing yards against Stanford’s defense last week in the Big Game. The Cougars have similar muscle and length up front with four players standing 6-foot-4 or taller, including 6-7, 265-pound linebacker Bronson Kaufusi, who has six of BYU’s 24 sacks.

STATS THAT MATTER: Junior running back Daniel Lasco needs 15 yards to become Cal’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Isi Sofele in 2011. . . . Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff needs one touchdown pass to become Cal’s single season leader. He shares the record of 31 with Pat Barnes (1996). Currently No. 5 with 7,088 career passing yards, Goff would move to No. 3 with 273 yards. . . . Cal ranks last nationally, having allowed 3,973 passing yards through 11 games. If BYU throws for 277 yards Saturday, Cal will have allowed more yards through the air than any FBS team in history.


Football: Big Game game thread

Click here to read my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 38, Cal 17. The Bears have lost five straight Big Games by a combined margin of 201-75. At 5-6 overall, 3-6 in the Pac-12, Cal must beat BYU next Saturday in Berkeley to become bowl eligible.

Cal  will enter that game having lost five of six games after a 4-1 start to the season.

Lasco’s 12-yard TD run in the fourth quarter marked the 10th straight game he has scored a touchdown. He had 103 rushing yards on the day.

THIRD QUARTER: Stanford 31, Cal 10. One of the strangest third quarters in Big Game memory ends after four official video reviews in a span of 1 minute, 20 seconds. First three nullify apparent Cal touchdowns — twice on keepers by QB Luke Rubenzer, third on 21-yard pass from Goff to Lawler. Cal gets nod on last one, after successful onside kick try. Bears start fourth quarter on Stanford 39, but the gap is 21 points.

HALFTIME: Stanford 24, Cal 7. Three turnovers and the Bears are in a huge hole. Goff, who had not been intercepted since the final play of the UCLA, has two tipped passed picked off, both by LB Blake Martinez. He was also the guy who knocked the ball loose from Lasco on his aborted try to reach the end zone.

Cal’s defense has been what we knew it would be — Stanford has 275 yards and 24 points. Not as horrific as last season, but what everyone has come to expect. Kevin Hogan is 12 for 17 for 168 yards.

It’s the Cal offense that has allowed Stanford to seize control. The Bears have just seven points to show for 196 yards of offense, thanks to turnovers that are generously responsible for a 14-point turnaround (7 Cal didn’t get, 7 Stanford got).

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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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