Football: Sonny Dykes says Cal is `where I want to be,’ and AD Mike Williams wants to keep him

Cal fans already are wondering if Saturday’s trek to Stanford could be Jared Goff’s final Big Game. The junior quarterback has not hinted whether he knows what he’ll do, but could be enticed to enter the NFL draft next spring.

Now coach Sonny Dykes’ future in Berkeley may also be in question.

Three different online media reports in recent weeks suggested he is frustrated he doesn’t yet have a contract extension and could be open to listening to other job offers, especially if they come from his home state of Texas.

Dykes says it isn’t true.

“This is where I want to be,” he said in an interview with this newspaper late last week, when asked to respond to the reports and the questions they raised. “It’s where I am. I came here and it’s where I want to be.”

Said athletic director Mike Williams, “It’s my intention to keep him here.”

When Dykes made his remarks, Cal hadn’t yet posted last Saturday’s 54-24 win over Oregon State, which makes the Bears (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) eligible for their first bowl invitation since 2011.

Even then, Dykes said the growth of young players in the program has provided him with “more optimism” at certain positions.

“We’re going to lose some good players (after this season), but we’re going to replace them with some good players,” he said. “Our young guys are good. We’re recruiting well. I’m excited about the future.”

The Oregon State win, on the heels of four straight defeats, provided Dykes with some relief and some satisfaction, he said. “We’ll be satisfied when we win every game.”

For now, Dykes and the Bears would settle for winning the next one.

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Athletics: Cal sweeps Pac-12 awards for football, basketball

A busy Monday on the awards front for Cal.

The Bears swept Pac-12 weekly awards in football and men’s and women’s basketball.

— Football: Jared Goff was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after passing for a season-high 453 yards and six touchdowns in the Bears’ 54-24 victory over Oregon State that gave the Bears a sixth victory and made them bowl eligible for the first time in four seasons. Goff was 26 of 37, and hit 22 of 25 attempts during one stretch.

— Men’s basketball: Tyrone Wallace was given the season’s first Pac-12 Player of the Week award following a 20-point, six-rebound, nine-assist stat line in Cal’s 97-65 season-opening win over Rice. Wallace, a senior point guard and all-Pac-12 selection, shot 9 for 12 from the field and his assist total was a career high. This was the fourth time over three seasons that Wallace has won the award.

— Women’s basketball: Courtney Range won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award after contributing 23 points to a win over Austin Peay, then 19 points and 13 rebounds to the Bears’ road win over then-No. 8 Louisville. Meanwhile, Kristine Anigwe won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week by averaging 15.0 points in the two victories.


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 faces UC Santa Barbara

Fourteenth-ranked Cal (1-0) returns to action Monday night against UC Santa Barbara (1-0) with a 7 p.m tipoff at Haas Pavilion. The game will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Bears are 10-1 all-time vs. the Gauchos of the Big West Conference, but the lone defeat came in the teams’ most recent meeting. UCSB beat Cal 72-65 two seasons ago.

Cal comes off a 97-65 rout of Rice in its opener Friday night. Senior point guard Tyrone Wallace had 20 points, six rebounds and a career-high nine assists. Freshmen Ivan Rabb (14 points, 13 rbounds, 5 blocks) and Jaylen Brown (14 points) successful college debuts.

The Gauchos are picked to finish second in the Big West a year after posting a 19-14 record. The team returns three double-digit starters: senior guard Michael Bryson (13.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg), sophomore guard Gabe Vincent (10.1 ppg) and senior forward John Green (11.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg).

Green had 22 points and 13 rebounds and Vincent scored 16 points in UCSB’s season-opening 60-59 road win over Omaha. Bryson served a one-game suspension in the opener for playing in an non-sanctioned game during the summer. He is scheduled to play against Cal.


Football: Cal routs Oregon State behind 6 TD passes by Jared Goff to become bowl eligible

All the heartbreak and all the school records didn’t matter to Jared Goff.

After Cal routed Oregon State 54-24 on Saturday night in front of 41,874 fans at Memorial Stadium, Goff didn’t talk about the six touchdown passes he threw.

But he couldn’t stop going on about the Golden Bears winning for the sixth time this season to become eligible to receive their first bowl invitation since 2011.

“It’s really cool. It’s really exciting in there,” the junior quarterback said, nodding toward the locker room. “The whole atmosphere is really awesome right now. I’m just trying to enjoy it.

“It’s a culmination of three years’ hard work since a lot of us got here. I’ve said it a million times, when we were 1-11 (in 2013) and we lost (the 2014 season finale) to BYU, all the hard work is going to pay off.”

It paid off in the Bears’ fifth try this season – and eighth over two years – to become bowl eligible.

By snapping a four-game losing streak, Cal (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) earned a spot in a bowl game for the first time in coach Sonny Dykes’ three seasons. The Bears’ most recent bowl appearance was a 21-10 loss to Texas in the 2011 Holiday Bowl.

“I’m proud of our players,” Dykes said. “We challenged them after four tough weeks to relax and play good football. There was an energy on the sideline that was real positive.

“They believe in each other and it was real satisfying to see them perform well tonight, kind of get the next step in our program, which is get to a bowl game.”

Bowl selections will be announced Dec. 6.

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Basketball: How performances by Ivan Rabb, Jaylen Brown compare to other top freshmen debuts

Cal got 14 points apiece from its freshman duo of Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown on Friday night.

Here’s how the nation’s top freshmen performed in their debut games:

— Antonio Blakeney: LSU’s rookie guard had a big opening night with 22 points and 10 rebounds in an 81-70 win over McNeese State.

— Jaylen Brown: Cal’s talented small forward shot just 5 for 15 and struggled with fouls, but scored 14 points in the 97-65 win over Rice.

— Thomas Bryant: The Indiana center had 11 points and 9 rebounds in an 88-49 win over Eastern Illinois.

— Devonte Davis: A forward from Michigan State, Davis had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks in an 82-55 win over Florida Atlantic.

— Malik Dime: Part of a strong Washington recruiting class, the forward had 10 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks in a 77-71 win over Texas in Shanghai, China.

— Tyler Dorsey: The Oregon shooting guard – heavily recruited by Cal — made the most of 5 for 6 from the field, totaling 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in an 80-52 rout of Jackson State.

— Brandon Ingram: The Duke guard had 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, but shot just 5 for 16 in a 92-74 win over Siena.

— Skal Labissiere: The forward had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks in Kentucky’s 78-65 win over Albany.

— Jamal Murray: The Kentucky guard had 19 points, 8 assists, 3 steals and 3 rebounds against Albany.

— Ivan Rabb: The former Bishop O’Dowd High star had 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in the win over Rice.

— Malachi Richardson: The Syracuse forward contributed 14 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in a 57-47 win over Lehigh.

— Ben Simmons: The LSU forward – who earned preseason All-America honors by AP Top-25 voters — had 11 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks in an 81-70 win over McNeese State.

— Diamond Stone: The Maryland big man had 10 points and 7 rebounds in an 80-56 win over Mount St. Mary’s.

— Caleb Swanigan: The beefy low-post man – who picked Purdue over Cal – had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the 81-40 win over North Carolina A&T.

— Stephen Zimmerman: UNLV barely survived Cal Poly 74-72, but the freshman forward had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots for the Runnin’ Rebels.


Basketball: Bears rout Rice in promising opener


The No. 14 Cal basketball team gave a curious opening-night crowd of 10,530 plenty of reasons to return to Haas Pavilion this season.

The Bears introduced freshman Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown to a game-night atmosphere on the way to a 97-65 victory over Rice on Friday night.

Rabb, whose most recent official game on this floor was in a high school state championship win for nearby Bishop O’Dowd, had 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots over 16 minutes in his college debut.

Brown, a consensus top-5 national prospect out of suburban Atlanta, scored 14 points, despite four fouls and a second-half bloody nose that limited him to 15 minutes on the floor.

“They showed me they’re ready,” junior guard Jordan Mathews said of the two ultra-hyped freshmen. “They showed us all they’re ready.”

The buzz of expectation is significant for this team, which was didn’t even make the NIT last year but was projected by three ESPN analysts as a Final Four team. Cal’s most recent visit to the national semifinals was 1960 – when John F. Kennedy was a candidate for president and Wilt Chamberlain an NBA rookie.

With three starting guards back to provide leadership and stability, second-year coach Cuonzo Martin has a roster with more talent than any Cal team since the days of Jason Kidd more than two decades ago.

“It was definitely a great experience playing in the first game,” Brown said. “There was a lot of excitement building up. I had a good time. Ready for the next one. We’re just scratching the surface.”

Rabb, who said Martin had the team “overprepared,” was unhappy with his three fouls but thought he otherwise played well. “A few times I got a little confused out there,” he said.

Martin was satisfied with both rookies given the first time out.

“Offensively, they both played well,” Martin said. “Every game will present something different for those guys.”

Senior all-Pac-12 point guard Tyrone Wallace provided 20 points, six rebounds and eight assists against the visitors from Conference USA. Wallace shot 9 for 12 from the field.

Junior Jordan Mathews scored 13 points – including 11 in the first half – and junior Jabari Bird contributed 11.

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Basketball: Hype gives way to tipoff as Bears take on Rice

All the preseason hype will move to the side Friday night when the Cal basketball team opens its season against Rice at Haas Pavilion. Tipoff is 8:30 pm on Pac-12 Networks.

The buildup has been considerable for the 14th-ranked Golden Bears.

Three ESPN analysts have gone as far as projecting Cal as a Final Four team.

The last time that happened – in 1960 — JFK hadn’t yet been elected president and Wilt Chamberlain was an NBA rookie.

Second-year coach Cuonzo Martin is neither embracing the attention nor shunning it.

“As far as the predictions, we control what we control,” he said. “As a coach, I don’t try to steer those guys clear of that information. You can’t shelter guys their whole life. That’s information. We get it, we discuss and move on.”

So, no worries that his team – including highly touted freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb – might let all this go to their heads?

“The way they walk, I don’t see it,” Martin said. “They walk with a level of humility as a team.”

Senior Tyrone Wallace, the Bears’ all-Pac-12 point guard, says he mostly ignores the buzz.

I don’t really pay attention to it, so it’s easy for me,” he said. “We just try to keep our heads straight and focus on what’s in front of us.

“The most important thing is we believe in ourselves.”

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Football: No panic for Cal, but a sense of urgency

There is no panic, no desperation as the Cal football team embarks on its eighth try over two seasons to gain bowl eligibility, says receiver Bryce Treggs.

“But there’s kind of a sense of urgency within our team,” said Treggs of Saturday night’s game against Oregon State at Memorial Stadium.

The Bears (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) have lost four straight since opening 5-0 to reach the cusp of qualifying for their first bowl game since 2011. One more victory will do the trick.

Cal had chances to get a sixth win in its final three games a year ago, and lost all of them.

“Every week after a loss, you kind of feel pressure to win the next week. This week we’ve kind of put that behind us,” said Treggs, acknowledging that is easier said than done. “We just have to come together, be mature and overcome this adversity we’re going through.”

Win or lose this week, the Bears have two more chances: A week from Saturday at seventh-ranked Stanford in the Big Game, and Nov. 28 at home against Arizona State.

Clearly, this is their best opportunity.

The Bears were an underdog in six of those previous seven “eligibility” games. They opened as 17½-point favorites over the Beavers (2-7, 0-6), who have scored just 25 points in their past three games and are playing without their injured starting quarterback. The betting climbed to 21½ by Thursday.

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