November 25, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Jake Bobo (9) scores a touchdown against California Golden Bears safety Craig Woodson (2) during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, No. 18 UCLA finally finish off Cal

Dorian Thompson-Robinson accounted for three touchdowns and Zach Charbonnet rushed for 119 yards and the game-winning score to lead UCLA to a 35-28 victory over host California on Friday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

Charbonnet carried the ball 24 times as UCLA rushed for 352 yards. T.J. Harden rushed for 89 yards and Thompson-Robinson, who threw for 189 yards and a score on 21-of-30 passing, added 88 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

The Bruins (9-3 overall, 6-3 Pac-12) clinched the win with less than two minutes remaining when Laiatu Latu recovered his second fumble of the game after the ball was punched out of Cal running back Jaydn Ott’s hands.

Cal quarterback Jack Plummer threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns on 24-for-34 passing. Plummer also became the sixth quarterback for Cal to surpass the 3,000 yards passing in a season.

Less than four minutes after Cal (4-8, 2-7) took a 28-27 lead, Charbonnet scored a 5-yard touchdown run and Thompson-Robinson converted a two-point pass play to Jake Bobo as UCLA went 73 yards on 10 plays to take the lead.

The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, with UCLA striking first on a 5-yard toss from Thompson-Robinson to Bobo. Plummer capped an 80-yard drive with a 46-yard bomb to J. Michael Sturdivant to tie the score.

Nicholas Barr-Mira punched in a 23-yard field goal for a 10-7 UCLA lead in the second quarter.

Cal seemed to grab the momentum before halftime with a pair of Plummer touchdown passes to Jeremiah Hunter — from 38 and 22 yards out — as the Bears went up 21-10 with 58 seconds remaining.

But Thompson-Robinson led the Bruins on an impressive 75-yard drive on five plays in 40 seconds, rushing 19 yards for the score to make it a 21-17 game at the half.

Thompson-Robinson then helped the Bruins regain the lead at 24-21 with a 14-yard keeper midway through the third quarter.

Latu recovered a fumble after Jack Landherr IV popped the ball out of punt returner Hunter’s hands late in the third quarter in what was Cal’s only other turnover.

The Bruins had to settle for a field goal and a 27-21 lead.

On Cal’s next possession, Hunter gained 49 yards on a reception, setting up an 8-yard screen pass to Ott as Cal temporarily regained a one-point lead.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) throws as Southern California Trojans defensive back Max Williams (4) and defensive lineman Solomon Byrd (51) move in during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 UCLA looks to rebound in finale vs. Cal

Coming off a heartbreaking loss that dashed its Pac-12 championship hopes, No. 18 UCLA tries to regroup and finish its season on a high note when it travels to Berkeley, Calif., for a matchup with Cal on Friday.

The Bruins (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12) fell from College Football Playoff contention to out of the hunt for the league title with consecutive losses to Arizona on Nov. 12 and USC on last week.

The latter was a high-scoring, dramatic, back-and-forth contest in which UCLA was driving late with a chance to spoil its crosstown rival’s own playoff hopes, but Dorian Thompson-Robinson had a pass intercepted on the decisive play of the 48-45 contest.

“It hurts, but we want to end this thing on the right foot,” Thompson-Robinson said of switching gears on a short week to prepare for Cal. “We have 20-something seniors on this team, guys I played with here forever. Trying to send those guys out on the right foot, and the underclassmen know that, they understand that.”

Thompson-Robinson passed for four touchdowns and rushed for two in the shootout against USC, continuing to add to the best of his five seasons at UCLA and moving closer to various Bruins records.

Already UCLA’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns with 85, Thompson-Robinson is 474 yards shy of passing Cade McNown as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards. McNown finished with 10,708 yards through the air.

“One of (Thompson-Robinson’s) greatest qualities — and I say it all the time — is his toughness,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s as tough a quarterback as I’ve ever been around, and that’s just the type of kid he is. … He’s going to play the game and give it all he has.”

Cal (4-7, 2-6) had its bowl hopes dashed amid a six-game losing streak, but the Golden Bears can conclude the season with some positive momentum and a winning streak.

They outlasted rival Stanford 27-20 last week thanks to a fourth-quarter rally.

Cal rolled off 21 consecutive points in the final period, which included Jaydn Ott catching a two-point conversion pass after Jackson Sirmon’s 37-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, then Ott producing the win-sealing touchdown run with less than a minute remaining in the game.

Ott comes in with 842 yards rushing, sixth best among all freshmen in the nation. He became the first true freshman in program history to eclipse 100 yards in his debut, and he holds the conference’s single-game high this season with 274 yards against Arizona.

If he can gain 158 yards on Friday, Ott would become the conference’s first freshman to reach 1,000 since Jermar Jefferson of Oregon State in 2018, and Cal’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Patrick Laird in 2017.

Meanwhile, Golden Bears quarterback Jack Plummer looks to finish strong after underwhelming performances the past two weeks against Oregon State and Stanford. He finished with 147 yards and an interception in the loss to the Beavers, and he threw two interceptions in the red zone against the Cardinal.

“I’ve just got to take those out of the memory bank,” Plummer said. “I knew what was wrong seconds after the play was over. I don’t need to go back and watch the film to say, ‘Hey, I shouldn’t have thrown that.’”

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Mavin Anderson (11) runs after a catch against Stanford Cardinal linebacker Levani Damuni (3) and safety Alaka'i Gilman (33) during the second quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Cal topples Stanford 27-20 in Big Game

Linebacker Jackson Sirmon turned a teammate’s fumble into a 37-yard touchdown, producing the go-ahead score in host California’s 27-20 victory over rival Stanford on Saturday afternoon in the 125th annual Big Game in Berkeley, Calif.

Sirmon’s return came after the second fumble on a crazy play that occurred on the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous kickoff returns in college football history known as “The Play.”

It gave Cal (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) a second consecutive win in the Northern California rivalry.

The Golden Bears hadn’t scored since the first quarter and trailed 17-6 before Jack Plummer threw a 1-yard TD pass to Monroe Young with 11:18 to play.

A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Cal behind 17-12. However, on the third play of Stanford’s ensuing possession, the Golden Bears’ Daniel Scott forced a fumble on Ashton Daniels’ run around left end.

The ball hopped into the arms of Cal’s Jeremiah Earby, who took two steps and in turn dropped the ball, with this bounce landing in Sirmon’s hands to begin his dash to the difference-making score.

A two-point conversion by Jaydn Ott put Cal up 20-17 with 9:54 remaining, after which Ott added a 1-yard TD plunge to ice the victory with 58 seconds left.

Stanford’s Joshua Carty drilled a 61-yard field goal on the final play of the game to account for the final score, ending the Cardinal’s run of six consecutive wins in Berkeley.

Ott was the game’s leading rusher with 97 yards on 18 carries and the one score. Plummer went 23-for-43 for 280 yards and one TD with two interceptions, directing the Golden Bears to a win that ended a six-game losing streak.

Cal’s Jeremiah Hunter was the game’s leading receiver, with five catches for 103 yards.

Stanford (3-8, 1-8) was led offensively by Tanner McKee, who threw for 271 yards on 29-of-45 passing with one TD and one interception. Mitch Leigber ran for 83 yards and a first-half score, while Elijah Higgins hauled in eight passes for 69 yards and a 9-yard score that increased the Cardinal’s lead to 17-6 midway through the third period.

Each team scored on its first two possessions of the game, but not again before halftime, with Stanford taking a 10-6 lead into the break.

Leigber scored the half’s only TD on a 1-yard plunge to cap the Cardinal’s first possession.

Stanford’s Joshua Karty added a 42-yard field goal at the 3:47 mark of the first period, sandwiching 54- and 38-yard successes by Cal’s Dario Longhetto.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears head coach Justin Wilcox during the third quarter against the Washington Huskies at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Pride on the line for skidding Cal, Stanford

Stanford has to make the trip across the San Francisco Bay, but the Cardinal appear to have Cal right where they want it when the rivals contest the 125th Big Game on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.

The battle to avoid last place in the Pacific-12 Conference will pit a Stanford squad (3-7, 1-7) attempting to end a three-game losing streak and avenge last season’s 41-11 home drubbing against a Cal team (3-7, 1-6) that responded to a sixth consecutive defeat last weekend by firing offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

Both head coaches made it clear this week: You can throw out the records, which include not only the one-win conference seasons this year but also the fact that the road team has won the past four Big Games.

“The Big Game. That’s the message,” Stanford coach David Shaw said of his plan to fire up a team coming off a 42-7 shellacking at Utah. “The Axe is about the seniors and the tradition of holding that thing and taking pictures with it. We’re trying to get that Axe for the seniors. That’s the focus.”

Cal made a similarly disastrous trip last week, falling 38-10 at Oregon State. Curiously, Cal coach Justin Wilcox responded by firing Musgrave, whose offense (22.5 points per game) had far outperformed the Wilcox-influenced defense (37.3) over the past four weeks.

With his own job possibly on the line, Wilcox had a “win one for the alumni” speech prepared for his players.

“We recognize the importance of the Big Game to the university and our alumni and our student body,” Wilcox said. “We need to make the most out of (the) opportunity.”

While Cal introduces transfer quarterback Jack Plummer to the rivalry, Stanford junior Tanner McKee will get his second crack at being a Big Game starter.

He watched as a freshman when Stanford bussed out of Berkeley with The Axe in its possession following a 24-23 win in 2020, then contributed two interceptions to the Cardinal’s demise in last year’s 41-11 debacle at home.

McKee and Plummer have similar stats with the season winding down. McKee has thrown for 2,363 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while Plummer has logged 2,521 passing yards, 16 scores and seven picks.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Anthony Gould (2) runs the ball for a touchdown during the first half against the California Golden Bears at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State builds early lead on Cal, coasts to victory

Ben Gulbranson threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third Saturday night as Oregon State established a 21-0 second quarter lead en route to a 38-10 win over California in Corvallis, Ore.

Gulbranson completed 15 of 23 passes for 137 yards in a performance that was more efficient than spectacular, but perfectly fine considering how tough the Beavers’ defense was against the pass-happy Golden Bears.

Oregon State allowed just 160 total yards, with only nine on the ground. Prolific Cal quarterback Jack Plummer hit on 22 of 34 attempts, but for just 151 yards with an interception.

The Beavers (7-3, 4-3 Pac-12) got a solid performance from running back Damien Martinez, who rushed for 105 yards on 23 carries. Oregon State finished with 362 total yards and controlled the ball for more than 36 1/2 minutes.

Gulbranson initiated the scoring with a 1-yard sneak with 5:37 left in the first quarter, capping a 65-yard drive that lasted almost five minutes. The Beavers made it 14-0 less than 3 1/2 minutes later on a 5-yard run by Jam Griffin, six plays after Plummer tossed an interception at the Bears’ 31.

The lead grew to 21-0 at the 12:01 mark of the second quarter when Anthony Gould slalomed through Cal’s punt coverage team on a 55-yard touchdown.

The Bears managed their only touchdown with 2:33 remaining in the half when Jeremiah Earby picked up a Martinez fumble and sped 33 yards down the right numbers.

Any thoughts of a second-half rally for Cal (3-7, 1-6) were quashed when Everett Hayes boomed a 49-yard field goal and Gulbranson hit Tre’Shaun Harrison for an 8-yard scoring strike for a 31-7 lead in the third quarter.

Michael Luckhurst booted a 36-yard field goal 2 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter to round out the Bears’ scoring, while Gulbranson capped Oregon State’s onslaught with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jack Velling with seven minutes remaining.

The outcome eliminated Cal from bowl consideration.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Ben Gulbranson (17) passes against the Washington Huskies during the third quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Backup QB critical as Oregon State clashes with Cal

Out of the College Football Playoff poll after a last-second loss at Washington, Oregon State sets its sights on a strong finish.

The Beavers, also chasing a prestigious bowl bid, are leaning on backup quarterback Ben Gulbranson, starting with Saturday night’s home game against Pac-12 Conference foe California.

Gulbranson is 3-1 in a starting role since Chance Nolan suffered a neck injury in the Beavers’ October 1 loss at Utah. In last week’s defeat, Gulbranson threw for just 87 yards. He completed 12 of 19, missing open receivers downfield on more than one occasion.

“He’s got a couple of guys running wide open, he’s got to hit them,” said Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith. “It needs to be better. We’ve chosen a brand of football with our current staff. But we’ve got to get better in the passing game.”

The Beavers (6-3, 3-3) have gotten a combined 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions from Nolan and Gulbranson. Nolan tossed six picks in his last five quarters, including four in a narrow September home loss to USC.

Meanwhile, the Golden Bears (3-6, 1-5) must win out to become bowl-eligible. With arch-rival Stanford and UCLA remaining after this week, it seems like a long shot. They nearly pulled a major upset last week but lost 41-35 at No. 8 USC.

Cal trailed 27-7 in the third quarter, but rallied behind three second half touchdown passes from Jack Plummer. The Bears pulled within six points with just under three minutes left but couldn’t make a defensive stop to give themselves a chance to steal victory.

“The expectations was to play better football,” said Cal coach Justin Wilcox. “I loved the competitiveness, but where we really played poorly was at the end of the half. We could have played that much better.”

Plummer’s lone interception late in the half set up a Trojan touchdown that made it 20-7 at the half. But his 406 yards made him the first Bears’ quarterback in six years to crack the 400 mark in a game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans running back Travis Dye (26) is knocked out of bounds by California Golden Bears cornerback Tyson McWilliams (11) in the second half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 USC fends off Cal behind Caleb Williams’ 5 TDs

Caleb Williams passed for four touchdowns and rushed for a fifth, and host No. 9 Southern Cal survived a second-half scare to outlast Pac-12 Conference counterpart Cal 41-35 Saturday in Los Angeles.

The Trojans (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) extended their lead to 34-14 in the third quarter when Williams connected with Tahj Washington on an 8-yard touchdown pass. The game shifted quickly from there.

Cal (3-6, 1-5) responded with a 92-yard scoring drive, 47 of those yards coming on Jack Plummer’s touchdown pass to Mavin Anderson. Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox opted for an onside-kick attempt following the score.

Michael Luckhurst’s placement up the middle worked as Cal recovered.

The Golden Bears cashed in on a touchdown in 10 plays, converting three third downs in the process. Plummer threw a 3-yard scoring strike to Jeremiah Hunter, pulling the Golden Bears to within a possession despite giving up a Nick Figueroa block on the ensuing extra-point kick.

Williams wasted no time responding, starting USC’s next drive with a 29-yard dime to a sliding Michael Jackson III. The Trojans moved 77 yards in a little more than three minutes, with Williams capping the drive on a short touchdown pass to Lake McRee.

The Golden Bears answered once more, this time converting both a third-and-10 and a fourth-and-2 before Jaydn Ott rushed in a goal-line touchdown. Plummer connected with Monroe Young for a successful 2-point conversion.

Cal forced a third down on the ensuing possession with a chance to regain possession, but Williams called his own number on the critical down and broke a 15-yard run that effectively sealed the win.

Williams finished 26-of-41 passing for 360 yards and carried seven times for 38 yards. Travis Dye finished with a game-high 98 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown.

Plummer went 35-of-49 passing for 406 yards and threw all three of his touchdown passes in the second half. Hunter led Cal with six catches for 102 yards.

Jackson caught five passes for USC and finished with a game-high 115 yards and two scores. Washington had seven receptions for 112 yards and the TD.

With the win, the Trojans matched their best start since 2008.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) breaks a tackle by Utah Utes defensive tackle Junior Tafuna (58) in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams guides No. 9 USC into next conference battle vs. Cal

Ranked No. 9 in the initial College Football Playoff poll, Southern California is home in Los Angeles on Saturday to continue its pursuit of a Pac-12 Conference title when it hosts Cal.

The Trojans (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12), playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time since Oct. 8, outgunned Arizona in a wild 45-37 win last week.
The high-scoring affair was USC’s second in as many contests. A 43-42 loss Oct. 15 at Utah and the Oct. 29 trip to Arizona bookended the Trojans’ bye week.

Quarterback Caleb Williams bolstered his Heisman Trophy case with 411 yards on 31-of-45 passing and five touchdowns, all with primary receiving target Jordan Addison sidelined due to a knee injury sustained at Utah.

Tahj Washington and Kyle Ford picked up the slack with Washington’s seven catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Ford’s six grabs for 114 yards and a score.

“If you kind of look at how the targets were spaced out, a lot of guys got opportunities and obviously, a lot of them stepped up,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said on Tuesday. “It was a good lesson for him (Williams) of regardless who’s in: An offensive system runs best when it’s going where it needs to go.”

Cal (3-5, 1-4) understands what’s coming. The Bears know they stand out for failing to defend the pass with one of the nation’s most prolific attacks up this week. The Golden Bears rank No. 126 nationally and last in the Pac-12 with 292.3 yards allowed through the air per game.

Last week, Cal gave up 412 passing yards to Oregon’s Bo Nix.

“(Williams) is a unique talent; his ability to throw the ball, be accurate with it,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said during his Tuesday media availability. “And then he’s a really strong individual. He’s got great instincts. When it’s time for him to run or move in the pocket or buy time, he’s really adept at that.”

Finding ways to limit USC’s 41-ppg offense, which ranks tied for eighth in the nation, should be critical to the upset chances of a Cal team that has not played like it is built to win a shootout.

Since going 3-1 in the first month, a stretch capped with a season-high 49 points scored in a win over Arizona, Cal has dropped four straight. The Golden Bears have not scored more than 24 points in any of the four defeats.

Reserve quarterback Kai Millner boosted the offense last week against Oregon, going 8-of-11 passing for 114 yards with two touchdowns. His performance came primarily against Ducks back-ups, however, well after the outcome was in hand.

Wilcox was steadfast in the postgame press conference that Jack Plummer would remain the starting quarterback.

Plummer is completing 61.2 percent of his pass attempts on the season and has accrued almost 2,000 yards through the air, and has a solid 13 touchdowns against only five interceptions.

Establishing a consistent rushing attack to complement the passing game has proven more difficult. Cal is tied for 106th nationally in rushing offense at 113.4 yards per game on only 3.8 yards per carry.

The USC defense has not been great against the run, allowing 4.7 yards per carry and more than 152 yards per game. But boasting the Pac-12’s most prolific sacking defense with 26 through eight games reflects the Trojans’ ability to get into the opponent’s backfield.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA;  Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (10) runs the ball for a touchdown against The California Golden Bears during the second quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Bo Nix accounts for six scores as No. 8 Oregon rolls past Cal

Quarterback Bo Nix accounted for six touchdowns, three on the ground and three with a 412-yard passing assault, and eighth-ranked Oregon routed California 42-24 on Saturday afternoon in Pacific-12 play in Berkeley, Calif.

Nix threw 12 yards to Bucky Irving, 29 yards to Noah Whittington and 40 yards to Patrick Herbert, while also running in from the 4 and twice from the 1, lifting the Ducks (7-1, 5-0 Pac-12) to a seventh straight victory after an opening loss to Georgia.

Oregon has topped 40 points in all seven of its wins.

The Auburn transfer finished 27-for-35 passing, and fell 16 yards shy of the career-best 428 yards he put up in September against Washington State. He was intercepted twice.

The three-TD rushing game was his third of the year and increased his season total to 11. He totaled 59 yards on 12 carries.

Whittington was the game’s leading rusher with 66 yards on 10 carries, and also hauled in a team-high five passes for 67 yards, helping the Ducks outgain the Golden Bears 586-402.

Seeking to end a three-game losing streak, Cal (3-5, 1-4) led twice in the early going, first after a Dario Longhetto 28-yard field goal that opened the scoring, and a second time at 10-7 on a 6-yard TD pass from Jack Plummer to J.Michael Sturdivant in the second minute of the second quarter.

Oregon then scored the next four touchdowns, two on Nix runs and two on Nix passes, to make it a runaway at 35-10 early in the fourth period.

Plummer went 20-of-33 passing for 214 yards with two interceptions before giving way to freshman Kai Millner, who threw his first two collegiate touchdown passes in the final 7:38. Monroe Young hauled in the first from 11 yards out, before Justin Richard Baker capped the day’s scoring with a 55-yard reception.

Millner wound up 8-for-11 for 114 yards, giving the Golden Bears 328 passing yards in the contest.

Jeremiah Hunter was Cal’s leading receiver with five catches for 96 yards, while Jaydn Ott paced Golden Bears running backs with 57 yards on 14 carries.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) carries the football during the second half with help from offensive lineman Ryan Walk (53) against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks won the game 45-30. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 8 Oregon aims to keep rolling against Cal

No. 8 Oregon will seek to retain its top spot in the Pac-12 standings while keeping its playoff hopes alive when it visits struggling Cal on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

The Ducks (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) have gotten their offense in high gear since a 49-3 shellacking at the hands of top-ranked Georgia in a neutral-site opener. After putting up 70 points on Eastern Washington, Oregon has topped 40 in five consecutive games against BYU and four Pac-12 opponents — Washington State, Stanford, Arizona and most recently UCLA.

The latter was Oregon’s victim last week in a showdown of teams ranked inside the top 10 of the AP Poll. Ducks quarterback Bo Nix outdueled UCLA star Dorian Thompson-Robinson with 283 passing yards and five touchdowns in a 45-30 win that allowed Oregon to move up two spots in the national rankings.

A win over Cal (3-4, 1-3) likely wouldn’t have that kind of impact, but all wins count, especially when another loss would assuredly knock the Ducks out of the national-title picture.

Oregon has won 11 of the last 13 meetings over the Golden Bears, but Cal has taken two of the last three at home, including 21-17 in the 2020 finale when the Ducks flew into town as the 21st-ranked team in the country.

Cal has lost 11 of 19 games since then, including 24-17 last October at Oregon when the Ducks, ranked ninth at the time, needed to score two touchdowns in the final 11:23 to avoid a major upset.

The Golden Bears enter this meeting having lost three in a row, but several players — including star receiver J. Michael Sturdivant — have seen improvement.

“I think this team could beat anybody,” the wideout boasted in the wake of last week’s competitive setback. “I think every game from here on out is definitely winnable.”

The Ducks surely enter the game with a big edge in a battle of transfer quarterbacks.

Nix has averaged 272.7 passing yards in his last six games with 17 touchdowns and just one interception. The Auburn transfer also has rushed for eight touchdowns in his last five outings.

“I don’t think anybody can sit here and watch football right now and watch our quarterback playing and tell me he’s not an elite quarterback,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said after the UCLA win. “This guy’s playing at an extremely high level. He makes great decisions for his team.”

Meanwhile, Cal’s Jack Plummer has just 12 touchdown passes in seven games, although he’s coming off a game against Washington in which he equaled his season high with three. The Purdue transfer threw for 245 yards without an interception against the Huskies in arguably his best performance for Cal.

If the Golden Bears are going to put themselves in a position to possibly upset Oregon again, chances are they’ll have to duplicate a defensive effort in which they allowed Washington just six points over the first 40 minutes of last week’s contest.

–Field Level Media