Football notebook: Where will Cal go bowling?

Cal and Arizona State both are bowl eligible heading into their matchup Saturday night at Memorial Stadium, and the winner could wind up securing a berth in the Jan. 2 Cactus Bowl in Tempe.

That’s the Pac-12’s No. 7 bowl slot and the Bears (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12), at least, cannot ascend any higher than seventh in the final overall conference pecking order. ASU (6-5, 4-4) could climb higher, depending on how other teams fare.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach projects Cal to face Air Force in the Cactus Bowl, while Jerry Palm of CBS Sports has the Bears playing in Tempe against Texas Tech, which is Dykes’ alma mater.

The Bears also could fall to a game with no contractual ties to the Pac-12. Stewart Mandel of Fox has them playing Duke at the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the website Campus Insiders projects Cal against Air Force at the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 29 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Cal will play in a bowl game for the first time since 2011, when it lost 21-10 to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

Nine Pac-12 teams already have six wins to become eligible and Washington could become the 10th on Friday with a win over rival Washington State in the Apple Cup.


Senior safety Griffin Piatt is lost for the season after breaking his collarbone in the second half at Stanford on Saturday. The Bears also will face ASU without safety Damariay Drew (knee), who was injured the week before, but could return in time for a bowl game.

Senior starter Stefan McClure will be paired with either Luke Rubenzer or Khari Vanderbilt.


Piatt (3.63 grade-point average/business administration), senior defensive lineman Todd Barr (3.18/legal studies) and junior placekicker Matt Anderson (3.75/business administration) all earned first-team Pac-12 All-Academic honors. Rubenzer (3.38/undeclared) earned second-team honors.


Football: Bears head into Big Game challenge with boost of confidence after Oregon State victory

Nobody on this Cal team has tasted victory against Stanford, but the Bears will head into the 118th Big Game with some wind in their sails.

Nothing helped more than beating Oregon State 54-24 on Saturday night.

“This gives us confidence going into next week’s game against a very good Stanford football team,” coach Sonny Dykes said, “and we know we’re going to need it.”

Moreover, the Bears (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) are unburdened by the weight of trying to become bowl eligible; they took care of that Saturday night.

Exactly where Cal ends up playing in the postseason depends on how it fares Saturday at Stanford and the following week at home against Arizona State. But the Bears know they will hear their name called Dec. 6 when bowl matchups are announced.

Cal has not played in a bowl game since 2011, and Dykes worried the mounting pressure of four straight defeats could paralyze the Bears as they prepared for Oregon State.

“Coach told us to go out there and have fun,” said wide receiver Maurice Harris, who caught two of Jared Goff’s six touchdown passes. “Everybody had a good time playing football.”

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Basketball: Cal season preview

• LAST SEASON: 18-15, 7-11 (tied for eighth place in the Pac-12)

• COACH: Cuonzo Martin, second season at Cal 18-15; 9th season overall, 160-112.

• KEY PLAYERS: Senior guard Tyrone Wallace (17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists), junior guard Jordan Mathews (13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds), junior guard Jabari Bird (10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds).

SCOUTING REPORT: The 14th-ranked Bears are expected to contend for the Pac-12 title and find a place on the national landscape with the return of three starting guards and the arrival of two freshman prep All-Americans, 6-7 small forward Jaylen Brown and 6-11 power forward Ivan Rabb from Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd High. . . . Wallace has become the team’s leader and will continue to operate as a scoring point guard, even with more offensive weapons around him. . . . Mathews, a 44-percent 3-point shooter last season, and Bird should benefit from the two freshmen who will demand defensive attention. . . . Brown, a consensus top-five high school prospect, is an explosive player who can operate from the perimeter or attack the basket. Rabb’s offensive game still is developing, but he is a strong rebounder who can play either power forward or center. . . . Sophomore 7-footers Kingsley Okoroh and Kameron Rooks will share minutes at center. . . . Also expected to be in the rotation are backup point guard Sam Singer and 6-7 wing Stephen Domingo, a transfer from Georgetown.

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Football: Jared Goff never blinked after crazy Oregon rain deluge of 2 years ago

He was an 18-year-old freshman and was soaked to the bone, but Cal quarterback Jared Goff didn’t flinch two years ago after what had to be the most miserable night of his football career.

Goff answered every reporter’s question and shifted none of the blame after being pulled late in the first quarter of the Bears’ 55-16 loss at Oregon. He could have hidden in the dressing room after fumbling the ball away on two of Cal’s first three possessions in a driving rain storm, but instead provided an early sign that he has broad shoulders.

Two years later, Goff can smile about the experience. “That was a fun one,” he recalled this week as the Bears began preparation for a return to Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.

Goff’s worst game?

“I don’t think I played enough for it to be a bad game,” he cracked.

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Football: Dykes says Daniel Lasco is healthy

We’ve heard this before, but Cal coach Sonny Dykes said running back Daniel Lasco (hip) may finally be ready to make a difference after five games where he’s barely contributed.

“I think Daniel’s well,” Dykes said Tuesday. “He looked great (in practice) Sunday. He looked like he used to look. We’re very encouraged by that.”

During a Monday night teleconference, Dykes said Lasco will have a bigger role against USC.

“I think he makes a big difference. I’m hoping we’re going to find out,” he said. “Certainly we’ve missed him.”

Quarterback Jared Goff said he appreciates how Lasco has handled the disappointment of barely playing since Week 2, when he ran for 123 yards and a touchdown before injuring a muscle in his hip.

“I think he’s done a great job. I’m really encouraged by his attitude so far with what he’s been dealing with,” Goff said. “He hasn’t wavered at all. For him to continue to keep his head down and keep working and not say anything, just waiting until he’s ready to go, I’m really proud of him.”


There are a couple obvious tweaks to Cal’s latest depth chart, both on the offensive line.

Senior right guard Jordan Rigsbee now has OR next to his name with true freshman Patrick Mekari also in the mix.

Left tackles Brian Farley and Aaron Cochran also are linked by OR.

Dykes said the offensive line did not play well in the 40-24 loss at UCLA. “I didn’t think we played well at all,” he said. “We didn’t pass protect well, didn’t run block.”

But Dykes stressed competition is ongoing at most positions. “I wouldn’t make too much of that,” he said. “We want guys to compete,  regardless of who they are.”

Farley and Cochran were on the field together at the two tackle spots during practice Tuesday, and Mekari — who has played in three games — got some reps at guard with the first team.


Safety Stefan McClure (shoulder) is expected to play against USC, but linebacker Michael Barton (knee sprain) is out, Dykes said.

Freshman offensive lineman Semisi Uluave has a broken left hand, but is available to play, according to Dykes.


Basketball: Cal picked 2nd in Pac-12

The Cal men’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 Conference by a panel of 36 media members who cover the league.

Arizona was tabbed to win the conference title in a vote that was released during Thursday’s media day at the Pac-12 office. The Wildcats have won the conference title nine of the previous 13 times they were picked first.

The Wildcats received 18 first place votes and 408 total points, compared to nine first-place votes and 378 votes for Cal, which features three returning starters and elite freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb.

Stanford, replacing three departed senior starters including career scoring king Chasson Randle, was voted ninth in the poll.

The Pac-12 men’s basketball media poll:

1. Arizona (18) 406 points

2. Cal (9) 378

3. Utah (7) 360

4. Oregon (1) 338

5.UCLA (1) 304

6.Oregon State 235

7. Colorado 188

8. Arizona State 165

9. Stanford 145

10. USC 111

11. Washington 96

12. Washington State 65.


Basketball: Cal to host Haas Hoops Hysteria on Oct. 16

The Cal men’s and women’s basketball teams will give fans a preview of the upcoming season when they host Haas Hoops Hysteria on Friday, Oct. 16.

The free event will start at  7 p.m. on Spieker Plaza, then move inside to recently renovated Haas Pavilion at 8 p.m.

Coaches Cuonzo Martin and Lindsey Gottlieb will be on hand, along with the Cal Straw Hat Band, cheerleaders and Oski. Among the new amenities at Haas is the center-hung scoreboard.


Football: McClure says he’ll be ready for Grambling

Senior safety Stefan McClure, who has been handled with kid gloves while coming back from spring surgery on his right quad, finally was out of his red jersey Tuesday at practice.

Still no contact, but coach Sonny Dykes said he expects McClure to get some live action early next week and is confident he could be ready to play Sept. 5 in the opener against Grambling State.

No doubt about it, McClure said.

“I’ll be ready for the first game,” he said. “If we had a game this weekend, I’d be ready to go.”

McClure said his quad feels great, but that he’s anxious to be freed up to practice full out.

“It is driving me crazy. I want to get back out there,” he said. “They’re still not letting me hit anybody – no contact. I’m doing everything that’s not live, so it’s good.”

Without McClure and Griffin Piatt – who is farther behind in his recovery from knee surgery – the Bears have experimented with a variety of players at safety. Quarterback Luke Rubenzer is getting first-team reps and Damariay Drew – back after a year away to resolve legal issues – was impressive early.

But Drew missed at least five straight practices and was wearing a red jersey Tuesday, limiting his activity. Dykes, who had been vague for several days about Drew’s situation, said, “We’re trying to limit his collisions right now. He’ll be fine.”

Sounded like code for a possible head injury.

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Football: The latest on safeties Piatt, McClure

Presumed starting safeties Stefan McClure (quad) and Griffin Piatt (knee) both are ahead of schedule in their recoveries, according to coach Sonny Dykes, who also conceded it’s not a sure thing either will be ready to play by the Sept. 5 opener against Grambling State.

“That’s the target. We’ll see where they are,” Dykes said at Monday’s Bay Area College Football Media Day.

Dykes and the Cal medical staff originally did not expect McClure to be sufficiently healthy to include him among the 105 players teams are allowed to invite to fall training camp. But McClure will participate at some level when practice begins Friday.

“We were going to let him rehab and bring somebody else in,” Dykes said. “We didn’t think he was going to be ready, and the good thing is he is. We’ll see what he can do.”

Piatt, a one-time wide receiver walkon from Moraga, was a revelation on defense last season. He led the team with three interceptions and shared the lead with six pass breakups.

Then he tore his right ACL against Washington on Oct. 11 and was done for the season.

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Football: Dykes likes D-line’s improved depth

Cal incorporated two sets of scrimmages into its fourth workout of the spring on Monday, and defensive tackles Mustafa Jalil and David Davis sat out, as they will every time the Bears go live.

“We haven’t missed a beat,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said afterward. “I love the depth. I love the fact that we can play five or six defensive tackles and not make much of a difference. Couldn’t do that (last year) at any time.”

Senior Trevor Kelly, beginning his second season with the program, has dropped 30 pounds. “He’s moving around so much better,” Dykes said.

Dykes also said junior Marcus Manley and transfer James Looney are doing good things. Tony Mekari and Chris Palmer also are in the mix at defensive tackle.

Jalil, who has struggled with knee issues throughout his Cal career, is being held out purely for precautionary reasons, Dykes said. “We want him to get his snaps next fall,” Dykes said.

At defensive end, Dykes singled out senior Kyle Kragen, who transferred in from Diablo Valley College last season but had his own knee problems.

“He’s been really good. He’s strong, playing really hard. He’s been around, he’s mature. He knows how to play the position,” Dykes said. “He’s worked really hard to get himself into great shape and he’s playing hungry.”


Reserve quarterback-turned-safety Luke Rubenzer had a big moment Monday, intercepting Jared Goff during scrimmage action.

“Every day he gets better. That’s what I like to see,” Dykes said. “Today I thought he’s starting to get a sense for things. There’s certain guys who are in the right place at the right time. You want those guys playing for you. I think he’s one of those kids.”