Football: No Big Game kickoff announced Monday

We normally learn Monday morning the start times and TV info for Pac-12 football games scheduled for the following week.

But we have no word on Nov. 22 when Cal and Stanford will wage the Big Game at Memorial Stadium.

TV is exercising its right to hold off on scheduling for that day until at least this Saturday night, after the completion of all Pac-12 games. It’s possible final word won’t come until Sunday, or even Monday.

Word is there are five possible time slots/TV affiliations for these three games: USC at UCLA, Arizona at Utah and Stanford at Cal.

They are 12:30 p.m. on ABC regional; 12:30 p.m. on ESPN; 1 p.m. on FoxSports1; 4 p.m. on ESPN2; 5 p.m. on ABC.

We do know that the Big Game will not be televised the Pac-12 Networks. They are taking three games that day: Washington State at Arizona State (10 a.m.), Oregon State at Washington (no time yet) and Colorado at Oregon (no time).

Stay tuned.


Football notebook: Bears prepare for USC return game

No one associated with the Cal punt coverage unit is excited to relive last year’s game against USC.

“We don’t spend much time talking about last year on anything around here,” Cal special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl said.

Among the many nightmares the Bears endured during a 1-11 campaign, perhaps none left them shaken in quite the same way as the three punt returns for touchdowns they gave up in a 62-28 loss to USC.

“That was once in a lifetime,” junior punter Cole Leininger said.

He certainly hopes so because Cal (5-4, 3-4 Pac-12) gets another shot at the Trojans (6-3, 5-2) and return specialist Nelson Agholor on Thursday night in Los Angeles. Agholor ran back punts 93 and 75 yards for touchdowns that day and USC scored a third by running in a blocked punt.

Leininger said it’s difficult to express his emotions about that game. “The blame’s inherently going to go on me,” he said. “Obviously, everyone had something to do with it.”

Leininger’s focus this season has been to get more hang time on his punts in order to help the coverage unit. He has improved, Tommerdahl said, but needs to be better still.

“That’s what separates an NFL guy from a great college punter,” Tommerdahl said. “You’ve got to be able to hang it up there a ton.”

Coach Sonny Dykes said it’s possible the Bears will try to kick ball away from Agholor, but added, “At some point you’ve got to get where you can cover. We’ll challenge our guys.”

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Football: How Golden Bears went from 1-11 to 5-4

Nine down and three to go, starting with USC.

That’s where the Cal football team stood a year ago at this time, and that’s where it stands again right now, with the Bears set to play the Trojans on Thursday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

And that’s where the similarities end.

Cal was 1-8 and riding a seven-game losing streak headed into the USC game last season. Seven of those defeats were by two touchdowns or more, and what followed were three more routs as the Bears finished 1-11 during coach Sonny Dykes’ first season.

Now the Bears are 5-4 and coming off a 45-31 victory at Oregon State. Five of their first eight games were decided by seven points or fewer — three of them on the final play of the game — but the Bears are the most improved team from any of the nation’s five power conferences and they are a single victory from becoming bowl eligible, a status that was mathematically off the table before Halloween a year ago.

How did they climb out of the abyss so quickly?

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, whose Wildcats topped Cal 49-45 on a Hail Mary touchdown pass on the final play, said the progress has come because Dykes and his staff stayed consistent with their message.

“They’re growing up in a system,” Rodriguez said. “Once you get some confidence and get a couple wins early in the season, that goes a long way to getting the guys to believe in themselves and what they’re doing.”

Here are four specific ways the Bears have begun to grow up:


A year ago, the Bears rarely expected to win, and that attitude showed in their inability to come from behind. In nine Pac-12 games — all defeats — Cal never rallied from a deficit to take the lead. Not once.

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Football: Pretty good NFL day for ex-Bears

Ex-Cal stars Aaron Rodgers and Marshawn Lynch stole the NFL headlines Sunday.

C.J. Anderson and Justin Forsett had pretty nice days, too.

Rodgers set one NFL record and tied another in Green Bay’s 55-14 rout of the Chicago Bears, and Lynch scored a career-best four touchdowns in Seattle’s 38-17 win over the New York Giants.

Rodgers set an NFL record with hjs 16th touchdown pass of 70 yards or more — a 73-yarder to Jordy Nelson.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. He threw six first-half TD passes, tying an NFL mark set way back in 1969 by the Raiders’ “Mad Bomber,” Daryle Lamonica.

Rodgers finished 18 of 28 for 315 yards, without an interception or sack. He has thrown 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions the past three games, 10 of those TDs in two games against the Bears.


Lynch ran for a season-best 140 yards and scored on runs of 1, 2, 3 and 16 yards.

“Like I said before, Marshawn Lynch is our engine,” Seattle’s Doug Baldwin said. “Everything runs through him.”

“You could see the impact Russell’s running was having. . . . That impact mixing with what Marshawn was doing, it just got to where they couldn’t find us,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.


Anderson had the game of his life in the Denver Broncos’ 41-17 win at Oakland. The running back rushed 13 times for 90 yards and caught four passes for 73 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown from Peyton Manning that gave the Broncos the lead for good.

“I love playing at home,” Anderson said afterward. “It’s like I got my ice cream and my cake at the same time. I’m trying to soak all this in.”


Forsett, who became the starting running back for the Baltimore after Ray Rice was indefinitely suspended, ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 21-7 win over Tennessee. Forsett, in his eighth season, has reached career highs for yardage (721) and touchdowns (five).

“It’s been a dream come true, just to get the opportunity to come out here and play and show what I can do,” Forsett said.


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: Scarlett has season-ending ACL surgery

Cal defensive end Brennan Scarlett, regarded as perhaps the team’s best defensive player, underwent season-ending ACL surgery last week, coach Sonny Dykes announced after practice Thursday.

Scarlett injured the knee Oct. 4 during the Bears’ 60-59 win at WashingtonState, but returned to play in the game. Dykes later described the injury as a sprain, but Scarlett missed all four subsequent games.

Surgery to repair the partially torn ACL went well, Dykes said, and revealed no other damage in his knee.

“On the road to recovery,” Dykes said.

A junior from Portland, Oregon, Scarlett will be sidelined until next summer. “Hopefully, July he’ll be fully released and ready to go,” his coach said.

Initially, Scarlett expected to return this season without surgery.

“We were going to try to work through it and brace him and practice him and get him stronger,” Dykes said. “After discussing it with him and his family and doctors, we came to the conclusion it was best to go ahead and have the surgery.”

Scarlett is disappointed, but coping, reported Dykes, who expects him to play his senior season.

“He was really starting to come into his own and starting to play well, so I think it’s frustrating for him,” Dykes said. “He’ll get through it and I expect him to have a great year next year.”

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Football: Cal-OSU video rewind

Thought you might enjoy this 5-minute video, assembled for Cal’s athletic YouTube page, recapping the Bears’ 45-31 win at Oregon State.


UPDATE: Cal QB Jared Goff will appear on the Jim Rome show Wednesday morning (today!) at 10:40 a.m. The showed is aired in the Bay Area on 1050-AM. Short notice, but I just found out.

UPDATE II: Just listened to Goff on Rome. No real new ground covered for local listeners, but Goff talked about the Bears’ improvement from last year, his better grasp of the offense with a year’s experience and the impact of Ted Agu’s death. For the national audience not familiar with Cal football, lots of good stuff.

Rome gave Goff high marks for the interview: “Awesome,” he said after the 10-minute conversation. “Jared Goff’s really impressive. He’s a sophomore and he’s 20.”


Football: Dykes says Scarlett’s knee injury is `more severe’ than originally thought; prospects going forward unclear

Coach Sonny Dykes said he hopes to have injured receivers Kenny Lawler and Trevor Davis back for Cal’s game at USC on Nov. 13, but was less clear about the prospects for defensive end Brennan Scarlett.

The injury is “more severe than we thought,” Dykes told reporters Sunday night.

Scarlett, perhaps the Bears’ best defensive player, has missed all four games since injuring a knee at Washington State on Oct. 4. At that time, Scarlett’s injury was described as a sprained knee.

Asked if Scarlett might need surgery, Dykes said he could not comment on that possible scenario.

Cal has this week off to prepare for a Thursday night ESPN game at USC, and Dykes was optimistic he might have his receiving corps at full strength by then. Lawler sat out the Bears’ 45-31 win at Oregon State on Saturday with an ankle sprain and Lawler hasn’t played since jamming his neck on a kickoff return against UCLA on Oct. 18.

“Trevor ran around tonight, caught some balls. Nothing with a helmet on,” Dykes said after Sunday’s workout. “Kenny Lawler is ahead of schedule. It’s early, but I would anticipate those guys playing.”

Fellow wideouts Bryce Treggs (shoulder) and Chris Harper (back) played at OregonState, but should be feeling better still by the USC game, Dykes said.

Linebacker Jake Kearney, who sat out the OSU game with a shoulder injury, should be cleared to practice Wednesday, according to Dykes. Reserve safety Avery Sebastian remains day to day with a quadriceps injury.


Football: Bears can’t wait to achieve their goals

On a cold, damp Oregon State field, where two years earlier a proud Cal football era came to a sad end, the current Golden Bears made a statement about their future intentions.

The Bears breathed life into their postseason dreams with a 45-31 come-from-behind victory over the Beavers, leaving them one victory from bowl eligibility.

“It’s a step in that direction,” coach Sonny Dykes said after Saturday night’s game at Reser Stadium. “It’s obvious how far we’ve come this year, but at the same time, we want to get there fast. We want it to be yesterday.”

Two years ago, a 62-14 OSU rout in a steady, depressing rain ended an 11-year coaching run by Jeff Tedford that produced eight bowl appearances. On the heels of that 3-9 campaign, Cal was 1-11 in Dykes’ debut a year ago.

The Bears (5-3, 3-4 Pac-12) have made a four-victory leap this season, with games remaining a week from Thursday at USC, then at home against Stanford and BYU. Should they win just one of those, not only will they position themselves for a bowl game, but will equal the third-biggest single-season victory jump in school history.

“Obviously going on the road to play USC is going to be a challenge,” said Dykes, alluding to the fact that Cal has not beaten the Trojans in Los Angeles since 2000. “Our guys are excited about it.”

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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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