Football: Crazy passing numbers

Cal sophomore Jared Goff finished the season with 3,973 passing yards — seventh-most in Pac-12 history. The six players above him on the list all topped 4,000 yards for a season.

Goff moved to the top of the 2014 list of Pac-12 quarterbacks who threw for the most yardage this season, in part because Washington State’s Connor Halliday sat out the final three games with injury.

But the list boasts impressive numbers — eight Pac-12 passers topped 3,000 yards.

Of course, the season isn’t over for most of these players. Here they are, with their Pac-12 and NCAA rankings:

1/2: Jared Goff, Cal: 3,973 yards, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions

2/4: Connor Halliday, WSU: 3,873 yards, 32 touchdowns, 11 interceptions

3/6: Cody Kessler, USC: 3,505 yards, 36 touchdowns, 4 interceptions

4/7: Marcus Mariota, Oregon: 3,470 yards, 36 touchdowns, 2 interceptions

5/8: Anu Solomon, Arizona: 3,424 yards, 27 touchdowns, 7 interceptions

6/19: Sefo Liufau, Colorado: 3,200 yards, 28 touchdowns, 15 interceptions

7/21: Sean Mannion, Oregon State: 3,1,64 yards, 15 touchdowns, 8 interceptions

8/26: Brett Hundley, UCLA: 3,019, 21 touchdowns, 5 interceptions


Women’s basketball: Brittany Boyd leads Bears to title

Senior guard Brittany Boyd had 14 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals in just 22 minutes, leading No. 14 Cal to a 94-69 win over Creighton in the championship game of the Cal Classic.

Boyd, who had a triple-double in the Bears’ opening tournament game, was named MVP. Cal (6-0) has won its own tournament four years in a row.

Senior forward Reshanda Gray scored 21 points on 7 for 8 from the field and added eight rebounds. Courtney Range added 17 points and Justine Hartman scored 13.


Basketball: Cal takes aim at Fresno State

Fresh off a 20-point home victory over Cal Poly, Cal (4-1) treks to the Central Valley for a Sunday afternoon matchup with Fresno State (1-5) at Save Mart Center. Tipoff is 3 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

The Bulldogs are traditionally tough at home, but this is a game the Bears should win. Fresno is hoping to avoid a 1-6 start to its season for the first time since 1950-51.

Fresno lost to Evansville, East Carolina and Marist at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, this week. Its only victory so far — and only home game — was a 93-55 conquest of Bristol, a Division II opponent from Anaheim.

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Football: Cal-BYU game thread

UPDATE: Here’s my game story:

It never rained, as predicted, at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

But Cal succumbed to the same aerial downpour it’s been pelted by all season, and failed to earn bowl eligibility after a 42-35 loss to BYU.

The Bears (5-7) needed a victory to earn their first postseason bid since 2011, but could not stop BYU quarterback Christian Stewart, a former walk-on, whose fifth touchdown pass of the game, a 38-yarder to Jordan Leslie, broke a tie with 2:39 left.

It was the third straight week Cal could secure bowl eligibility with a sixth victory, and it fell short each time.

“Getting over the hump in college football is a hard thing to do,” said second-year coach Sonny Dykes, whose team progressed from a 1-11 record in 2013. “We had opportunities to do it this year and just didn’t get it done.”

Sophomore Jared Goff threw four touchdown passes, three of them to Kenny Lawler, and had four shots at Lawler in the end zone in the final 30 seconds but could not deliver the game-tying play.

“I was trying to find a hole in there, trying to find Kenny, hoping he could make a play,” Goff said.

As usual, offense wasn’t the issue. Cal scored 459 points this season – the most since 1920 and the second-most in school history. Goff set school records with 3,973 yards and 35 touchdowns passing.

But even an offense more prolific than the ones directed by Aaron Rodgers in 2003 and 2004 could not overcome a defense that gave up more passing yards (4,406) and TD passes (42) than any FBS team in history.

“We take full responsibility for it. We know what we have to do to get better,” junior safety Stefan McClure said. “It’s all stuff we did. It’s heartbreaking, especially the way it came down to the last drive.”

BYU’s decisive drive began with 4:27 left after Dykes opted to punt on a fourth-and-1 play from the Cal 34-yard line.

Asked how close he came to going for it, Dykes said, “Looking back, obviously I wish I had. It’s one of those things if you don’t get it you probably lose the ballgame.”

So he asked his defense to get the ball back. It didn’t happen.

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Women’s basketball: Boyd delivers 2nd triple-double

Senior guard and All-America candidate Brittany Boyd logged her second career triple-double, leading the No. 14 Cal women (5-0) to a 110-87 win over San Jose State on Friday night in the opening round of the Cal Classic.

Boyd had 11 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists to become just the second player in Pac-12 history with at least two triple-doubles. Former Stanford star Nicole Powell had six during the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons.

Senior Reshanda Gray scored 23 points for the Bears. Freshman Mikayla Cowling shot 2 for 4 from the 3-point arc in an 18-point performance and is converting 66.7 percent (12 for 18) on the season.

Cal faces Creighton (3-2) in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. title game at Haas Pavilion after the Bluejays beat Cincinnati 63-52.


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.


Basketball: Cal vs. Cal Poly game thread

Jabari Bird said his mandate from the Cal coaching staff is not to shoot more, but to be aggressive.

“Stay in attack mode,” the sophomore guard said after scoring a season-high 18 points in the Bears’ 72-52 win over Cal Poly on Wednesday night in front of an announced crowd of 5,712.

Bird scored just six points in the first half, but led the way with 12 after intermission as the Bears (4-1) pulled away from a Cal Poly team determined to milk the clock and keep Cal out of its transition game.

Bird, the former McDonald’s All-American from Salesian High, finished the game with just 10 shot attempts.

“I always want him to be aggressive,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “You have to be sound. Be in attack mode. Make the right decisions. Not let the defense speed you up. Be in control.

“He’s getting better, he’s getting a lot better. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Point guard Tyrone Wallace contributed 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Jordan Mathews scored 17 for the Bears, who might still have been out of sorts a bit after flying back from New   York City last weekend, Martin said.

“I just felt like even in practice guys were a step slow. I felt it myself,” said Martin, whose team beat then No. 23 Syracuse before losing to No. 7 Texas at Madison Square Garden. “It’s good to get this one out of the way.”

The Mustangs (2-2), who blitzed through the Big West tournament to earn an unexpected NCAA tournament bid last season,  stayed close for 30 minutes by maintaining a slow offensive tempo and working to keep Cal out of transition.

“We knew those guys would compete,” Martin said. “They force you to make plays, they double the post. They got their defense back so we couldn’t get easy transition baskets.”

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Football: Luke Rubenzer happy with his opportunities as Cal’s change-of-pace QB, eager to improve

No one was more surprised by how much Luke Rubenzer played in the Big Game than Luke Rubenzer.

“Yeah, a little bit,” the Bears’ freshman backup quarterback said. “I knew I was going to get in with some of those big sets, but I didn’t know how often we were going to use them.”

Rubenzer carried the ball a career-high 12 times for 60 yards, providing the Bears a change of pace on offense, and was 5 for 9 passing for 49 yards, but with two interceptions.

“Running the ball I felt like I took advantage of my opportunities,” Rubenzer said. “Obviously there’s a little work that has to be done with some of the pass plays. It was fun. It was good to get out there.”

Less fun was having two touchdown runs erased by the video replay crew. Two days later, the Pac-12 office acknowledged that one of those two runs – along with Jared Goff’s subsequent 16-yard TD pass to Kenny Lawler – shouldn’t have been overturned.

“I was a little frustrated. It’s just something out of my control,” Rubenzer said. “I knew I was definitely in on the second one. They came out and said that, too.”

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Football: Cal’s possible bowl destination — Tempe?

Courtesy of Jon Wilner, my BANG colleague, click here for his projections on where Pac-12 football teams will go bowling.

He envisions Cal potentially going to the Cactus Bowl, Jan. 2 in Tempe:

Record: 5-6/3-6
Schedule: vs. Brigham Young
Projected bowl: Cactus
Comment: A victory over BYU makes the Bears eligible. They’re a relatively hot commodity after a season that exceeded expectations. Because of the one-game difference in league record with Stanford, the Bears can leapfrog the Cardinal into the Cactus.

Of course, all of it hinges on the Bears winning Saturday.