Sep 30, 2023; Berkeley, California, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Demetries Ford (4) breaks up a pass intended for California Golden Bears wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter (3) during the first quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Cal pounds out 24-21 win over Arizona St.

Jaydn Ott rushed for 165 yards on 29 carries with a touchdown to lead host California to a 24-21 victory Saturday over Arizona State at Berkeley, Calif.

California (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) outrushed the Sun Devils 196-68.

Trenton Bourguet, starting at quarterback for the second time this season for ASU, completed 26 of 41 passes for 344 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

True freshman Jaden Rashada, named Arizona State’s starter out of fall camp, and Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne are both out indefinitely with injuries.

Borguet’s 3-yard scoring run and successful 2-point conversion pass to Elijhah Badger cut the lead to 24-21 with 9:18 remaining.

California then drove 74 yards in 18 plays, taking 6:28 off the clock, before Ott was stopped for no gain at the Arizona State 1 on a fourth-and-goal run.

However, the Sun Devils’ last possession ended at their 39-yard line when Bourguet’s pass attempt on fourth-and-4 was incomplete with 1:03 left.

California took a 10-7 lead into halftime after both teams struggled in third-down conversions to that point. Arizona State was 2-for-9 and California 2-for-7.

The Sun Devils’ first possession of the second half resulted in a turnover on downs at the Golden Bears 31.

California scored five plays later on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Sam Jackson V to Jeremiah Hunter to increase the lead to 17-7 with 9:11 remaining in the third quarter.

Arizona State appeared to score a touchdown on the next possession but a 1-yard halfback pass from Cameron Skattebo to Badger on fourth-and-goal was nullified because the Sun Devils had 12 players on the field.

Dario Longhetto made a 24-yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-10 with 5:29 left in the third quarter.

A 52-yard pass from Bourguet to Badger on Arizona State’s next possession led to a 29-yard field goal by Longhetto with 44 seconds left in the quarter.

Matthew Littlejohn’s interception returned 19 yards to the Arizona State 11 resulted in an Ott 2-yard scoring run four plays later, giving the Golden Bears a 24-13 lead with 10:52 remaining.

Arizona State (1-4, 0-2) played its first road game of the season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver JaLynn Polk (2) celebrates with tight end Devin Culp (83), offensive lineman Geirean Hatchett (56) and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) after catching a touchdown pass against the California Golden Bears during the second quarter at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Penix Jr., No. 8 Washington wallop Cal

Michael Penix Jr. passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns and Rome Odunze accounted for three scores as No. 8 Washington rolled to an easy 59-32 victory over California in the Pac-12 opener for both teams at Seattle.

Odunze caught five passes for 125 yards for his fourth straight 100-plus-yard outing this season and also returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown for the Huskies (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12). Ja’Lynn Polk had eight receptions for 127 yards and two scores as Washington registered a season high for points.

Edefuan Ulofoshio returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown for the Huskies, who beat the Golden Bears for the 12th time in the past 16 meetings.

Ben Finley completed 17 of 32 passes for 207 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions for Cal (2-2, 0-1) before leaving late in the third quarter with an apparent lower back injury. Samuel Jackson V replaced Finley and was 10-of-14 passing for 156 yards and one touchdown.

Jadyn Ott and Ashton Stredick rushed for touchdowns and Jeremiah Hunter, Taj Davis and Trond Grizzell each had receiving scores for the Golden Bears.

Penix completed 19 of 25 passes and was intercepted once in less than three quarters for Washington.

The Huskies led 14-0 before the offense took the field for the first tim.

Finley threw a pass directly to Ulofoshio, who returned it for a score just 2:23 into the contest. The Golden Bears were forced to punt on their next possession and Odunze took it 83 yards to make it 14-0.

Cal got on the board on Finley’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Hunter with 5:52 left in the quarter. The Huskies responded with Penix’s 8-yard scoring pass to Polk, and Grady Gross tacked on a 41-yard field goal for a 24-6 lead before the period concluded.

Dillon Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown run boosted Washington’s lead to 25 with 11:27 left in the first half. Cal answered with Finley’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Davis with nine minutes left.

Penix threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Polk and 35 yards to Odunze later in the quarter en route to a 45-12 halftime lead.

Early in the third quarter, Penix connected with Odunze on a 13-yard scoring pass to boost the margin to 40. Later in the stanza, the Huskies cleared the bench and the Golden Bears scored three touchdowns over the final 16:49.

–Field Level Media

September 16, 2023; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears running back Isaiah Ifanse (22) scores a touchdown against the Idaho Vandals during the third quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cal scores 31 unanswered points to topple Idaho

Backup running back Isaiah Ifanse rushed for a game-high 137 yards, Sam Jackson V threw two touchdown passes and California scored the game’s final 31 points to rally for a 31-17 victory over previously unbeaten Idaho on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

Subbing for injured Jaydn Ott, Ifanse handled 22 of Cal’s 43 rushes that produced 256 yards. Ifanse’s 137-yard total was 29 more than Idaho amassed as a team.

The Vandals (2-1), an FCS team, shocked the Golden Bears with 17 points in the game’s first 20:52, starting with a 25-yard field goal by Ricardo Chavez on the game’s first possession.

Idaho followed that with a pair of touchdown runs at the end of long drives. Anthony Woods dashed home from 19 yards out to cap an 80-yard drive late in the first period, and quarterback Gevani McCoy crashed over the goal line from 2 yards out to finish off a 53-yard drive with 9:08 remaining in the first half.

But Cal (2-1) dominated the rest of the game, getting back within 17-14 by halftime on Jackson touchdown passes of 20 yards to Jeremiah Hunter and 36 yards to Trond Grizzell with 1:25 left in the half.

Jackson gave the Golden Bears the lead for good with a 27-yard scoring scamper with 11:03 left in the third quarter. And when Ifanse bulled in from a yard out with 2:53 left in the period, all of the sudden the hosts were up 28-17.

Michael Luckhurst’s 39-yard field goal with 10:37 remaining in the game completed the day’s scoring.

Jackson finished 12-for-23 passing for 108 yards with no interceptions. Hunter was his top receiver with five catches for 48 yards.

Ashton Stredick added 77 yards on 11 carries to Cal’s rushing total.

McCoy threw for 279 yards on 28-for-46 passing with one interception. Hayden Hatten hauled in eight balls for 80 yards.

The Vandals outgained the hosts 387-370 but hurt themselves with three turnovers. Cal played error-free ball.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Pullman, Washington, USA; Idaho Vandals quarterback Gevani McCoy (4) throws the ball against Washington State Cougars defensive end Raam Stevenson (45) in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Idaho eyes first 3-0 start since ’94, first win over Cal

Unbeaten and boasting a defense that has outperformed nationally ranked Southern California this season, Idaho looks to beat Cal in football for the first time when the former conference rivals meet Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.

The Vandals (2-0) are brimming with confidence after smacking Lamar 42-17 and Nevada 33-6 in the first two weeks, both on the road.

Quarterback Gevani McCoy clearly is very excited about his team, ranked No. 10 in this week’s FCS poll, proclaiming, “We have so many guys and so many weapons, it’s not even fair, honestly.”

That started to become clear on the first offensive play of last week’s win over Nevada — Idaho’s first win over an FBS team in six years — when McCoy connected with tight end Turon Ivy Jr. on a 75-yard touchdown pass.

The Vandals also feature running back Anthony Woods, star of the win over Lamar with 138 rushing yards.

Yet it’s the Idaho defense that has coach Jason Eck most excited, especially after that unit held Nevada to 266 total yards. The week before, Nevada put up 360 yards against the Southern California defense.

“I’m happy for us,” Eck said after the Nevada game. “I thought our defense defended them better than USC did.”

If Idaho is to go 3-0 for the first time since 1994, it’s going to have to do something it’s never done before – beat Cal (1-1). The Golden Bears and Vandals used to coexist in the Pacific Coast Conference, where the teams met four times, with Cal winning them all.

When Idaho makes its first trip to Berkeley since 1934, it will encounter a Cal team stinging from a 14-10 home defeat at the hands of Auburn. Cal lost star running back Jaydn Ott to a hard fall during the game and found itself having to insert season-opening quarterback Sam Jackson V despite a left shoulder injury.

Jackson will start against Idaho; Ott, who had 197 rushing yards in the opening win over North Texas, is likely to get … hopefully a bit wiser, coach Justin Wilcox said.

“Jaydn is always a guy that’s going to try to make a play,” Wilcox said, “but generally speaking, leaving your feet, especially against good players, doesn’t end great. So, we’ve got to learn from that one.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Berkeley, California, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Payton Thorne (1) prepares to pass the football during the first quarter against the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn rallies to beat Cal on late TD pass from Payton Thorne

A 5-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass from quarterback Payton Thorne to tight end Rivaldo Fairweather with 6:31 to go in the game sparked Auburn to a hard-fought 14-10 comeback win over Cal on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.

The Bears (1-1) had a chance to take the lead with 1:44 to play at the Auburn 18-yard line facing a fourth-and-13, but Cal quarterback Sam Jackson V was intercepted by cornerback D.J. James in the end zone.

Thorne was confused by the Bears defense for most of the game but made plays when it counted and finished 9 of 14 passing for 94 yards and two touchdowns despite throwing an interception and losing a fumble.

Jarquez Hunter had a team-high 53 yards rushing on 11 carries for Auburn. Damari Alston also added 51 yards on the ground.

Fairweather led the Tigers (2-0) with three receptions for 39 yards and a score. Linebacker Eugene Asante had 12 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a sack for a stingy Auburn defense.

Cal tailback Jaydn Ott rushed 20 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, but left the game with 5:57 to go in the third quarter after he was banged up attempting to hurdle an Auburn defender.

Ben Finley got the start at quarterback for the Bears, but Jackson entered the game in the second quarter and provided a spark. Jackson finished 14 of 27 for 126 yards and two interceptions.

Cal’s defense forced three turnovers in the first half (two fumbles, one interception) but couldn’t hold off a fourth-quarter surge by the Tigers.

Bears kicker Michael Luckhurst made his first field-goal attempt, but missed his next three and finished 1 of 4 on field-goal attempts.

The Bears jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on a 39-yard field goal by Luckhurst following a fumble by Thorne on Auburn’s opening possession. Linebacker Kaleb Elarms-Orr forced the fumble and linebacker Jackson Sirmon appeared to return it for a touchdown, but the official blew the play dead and the TD was taken off the board after review.

Auburn grabbed a 7-3 lead with 11:50 to go in the second quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Thorne to Jay Fair on third-and-6. The play was set up by a forced fumble and recovery by safety Donovan Kaufman on Cal running back Isaiah Ifanse deep in Bears territory.

An Ott 14-yard scoring run put Cal back on top, 10-7, with 4:47 to go until halftime following a fumble by Alston at the Bears 35-yard line. Jackson sparked the six-play, 65-yard scoring drive after he entered the game in place of Finley.

–Field Level Media

Auburn Tigers running back Jeremiah Cobb (23) breaks free for a long touchdown run against UMass during their game at Jordan-Hare Stadium on the Auburn University campus in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday September 2, 2023.

Rushing attacks take center stage as Cal hosts Auburn

Two powerful rushing attacks will be on display when California hosts Auburn on Saturday night in Berkeley.

Behind a rebuilt offensive line, led by Western Kentucky transfer Gunner Britton, East Carolina transfer Avery Jones and Tulsa transfer Dillon Wade, the Tigers (1-0) ran for 289 yards and six touchdowns in a 59-14 win over UMass.

Three of those scores came via the legs of backup quarterback Robby Ashford. But talented runners Damari Alston, Sean Jackson and Jeremiah Cobb also scored as Auburn averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

Despite the success on the ground against the Minutemen, the Tigers will face a much stiffer challenge against a Cal defense that limited North Texas to just 41 yards rushing in an impressive 58-21 throttling of the Mean Green.

If the Tigers struggle to move it on the ground against the Golden Bears (1-0), Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne may have to play a much larger role in the passing attack after he completed 10 of 17 passes for 141 yards and a score in his Auburn debut.

Regardless of how it plays out, Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze knows his team will be in for a challenge.

“Cal is talented,” Freeze said in Monday’s press conference. “(Coach Justin) Wilcox is a great defensive mind. They are very sound on that side of the ball. Not flashy but sound. Offensively they’re extremely scary. That tailback … he’s one of the best ones I’ve seen.”

Like Auburn, Cal had a lot of success running the ball in its season-opening win over North Texas. The Bears’ ground attack finished with 357 yards and six touchdowns.

Dynamic runner Jaydn Ott averaged 9.4 yards per carry and finished with 188 yards and two scores. Isaiah Ifanse tallied 54 yards and three TDs.

TCU transfer quarterback Sam Jackson V won Cal’s starting quarterback job in fall camp, but he left the game against North Texas in the second quarter with a left arm injury (non-throwing). Ben Finley replaced Jackson and completed 24 of 34 passes for 289 yards and a touchdown.

Jackson returned to practice this week and is listed as day-to-day, according to Wilcox. Starting center Matthew Cindric is also questionable for Saturday’s game.

“I suppose everything is on the table,” Wilcox said when asked about playing two quarterbacks. “We’ll see where it all goes.”

–Field Level Media

November 25, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears running back Jaydn Ott (6) is tackled by UCLA Bruins linebacker Kain Medrano (20) during the second quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cal shuts down North Texas in 2nd half en route to win

California overcame the loss of starting quarterback Sam Jackson V, amassing 669 total yards of offense behind backup Ben Finley in the Golden Bears’ 58-21 victory over host North Texas on Saturday at Denton, Texas.

Jackson left the game with a left shoulder injury with 13:58 remaining in the second quarter after he was tackled on a designed run.

He connected on 3 of 4 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown before his injury.

Finley completed 24 of 34 passes for 279 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Jaydn Ott rushed for 188 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns for Cal. Isaiah Ifanse added 54 yards on 10 rushes with three touchdowns, and Ashton Stredick ran the ball 13 times for 51 yards and a touchdown.

California finished with 357 yards rushing.

California’s new run-game coordinator Mike Bloesch was the offensive coordinator at North Texas under Seth Littrell, who was fired after last season. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital returned to Cal after serving as head coach at Texas State the last four years.

The 58 points for California are its most since Oct. 21, 2016, when it beat Oregon 52-49 in double overtime.

California established control in the first half, taking a 33-21 lead into halftime.

Touchdown runs of 26 yards by Ifanse and 66 yards by Ott in consecutive possessions in the second quarter built the Golden Bears’ lead to 27-14 with 5:42 left in the half.

After North Texas scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Stone Earle to Xzavior Kautai, Finley engineered a quick scoring possession with seven seconds to spare before halftime.

The nine-play, 75-yard drive lasted only 1:40 and was capped by Ifanse’s 8-yard run.

California scored on three of its first four possessions of the second half to pull away.

North Texas had only eight offensive plays in the third quarter because of an interception after one play, a three-and-out possession, and turnover on downs after four plays.

The Mean Green finished with 17 offensive plays in the second half, compared to 50 for California.

They had only 9 yards of total offense in the second half.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal defensive lineman Jaxson Moi (51) tackles California Golden Bears running back Jaydn Ott (6) during the fourth quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

ACC votes to add Stanford, Cal, SMU

The Atlantic Coast Conference has committed to extending to the Pacific coast.

Presidents and chancellors from the 15 ACC member schools voted Friday morning to invite Stanford, Cal and SMU to join the conference in all sports, beginning with the 2024-25 academic year.

“This is a significant day for the ACC as we welcome Cal, SMU and Stanford to this incredible conference,” said James E. Ryan, president of the University of Virginia and chair of the ACC board of directors. “This expansion will enhance and strengthen the league now and in the future.”

The move will bring more than 2,200 student-athletes from Cal, SMU and Stanford to the conference, which currently numbers about 10,000.

With Cal and Stanford joining the ACC, it likely will be the death blow for the venerable Pac-12, which was decimated over the past month with the departures of all but those two California teams, Washington State and Oregon State to the Big Ten or Big 12. Those two remaining schools are expected to join the Mountain West Conference, stepping down from Power Five status.

For the ACC to issue the invitations, at least 12 schools needed to agree. ESPN reported that more than three weeks ago, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and North Carolina State stood opposed, but ESPN reported that NC State chancellor Randy Woodson voted to invite the three schools.

SMU gets its long-awaited chance to move to a power conference from the American Athletic Conference and has agreed to take no broadcast media revenues from the league for nine years, ESPN reported. Cal and Stanford will receive a 30 percent share for seven years, with a gradual increase until they receive their full allotment in the 10th year, per the report.

“This is a transformational day for SMU,” university President R. Gerald Turner said. “Becoming a member of the ACC will positively impact all aspects of the collegiate experience on the Hilltop and will raise SMU’s profile on a national level.”

Still to be determined are how often the current ACC teams will make the coast-to-coast travel to California. Yahoo Sports reported that a proposal is being floated in which the teams in Olympic sports from the eastern and western schools would play in Dallas — the home of SMU.

–Field Level Media

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

Familiarity all around when Cal visits North Texas

There still will be familiarity between two distinctly different programs when California hits the road to face North Texas at Denton, Texas, on Saturday.

Cal’s new run-game coordinator and offensive line coach Mike Bloesch was the offensive coordinator at North Texas under Seth Littrell, who was fired after last season and is now an offensive analyst with Oklahoma.

North Texas’ new head coach Eric Morris was the offensive coordinator at Washington State, which defeated Cal 28-9 last year at Pullman, Wash.

The low score in that game was indicative of Cal’s offensive execution last season.

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox fired former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave on Nov. 13 after the Golden Bears lost six straight games and were ranked 99th in total offense. Later that week, Cal pulled off a 27-20 home victory over rival Stanford.

Wilcox hired former Texas State head coach Jake Spavital as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Spavital served in the same role at Cal in 2016 when the Golden Bears’ offense and quarterback Davis Webb set several school records while ranking fourth in the nation in passing offense and 10th in total offense.

As an offensive coordinator at Cal, Texas A&M and West Virginia, Spavital’s teams finished in the top 20 in the country in total offense six times.

“We know that the margins are extremely thin,” said Wilcox, who has endured three consecutive losing seasons. “Everything that we do, it all matters.”

Spavital has announced Sam Jackson V, a redshirt sophomore and TCU transfer, as the starting quarterback against North Texas.

Jackson, who has attempted only six passes in college, was selected over North Carolina State transfer Ben Finley and redshirt freshman Fernando Mendoza.

“Sam’s the starter and we want to get him out there and get him into a rhythm,” Wilcox said.

Morris, who coached Incarnate Word at San Antonio before leaving for Washington State before last season, has announced Stone Earle is the Mean Green’s starting quarterback.

Earle, a junior, rushed for 110 yards mostly out of the wildcat formation last year and added 45 yards on 5-for-8 passing with one touchdown.

“His intermediate stuff was really good,” Morris said about Earle’s performance in fall camp. “He was also able to push the ball down the field at times and create explosive plays. He has done a great job of not revamping his game but of fitting more into our offense by becoming a better and more accurate passer.”

–Field Level Media

Jul 25, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA;  ACC commissioner James Phillips speaks to the media during ACC Media Days at The Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Report: ACC nearing vote on expansion efforts

The Atlantic Coast Conference is nearing a decision about adding Stanford, Cal and SMU, ESPN reported Monday.

ACC officials were said to be organizing a conference call of the league’s presidents and chancellors on Monday morning to potentially vote on the issue.

A source told ESPN that expansion efforts are “trending in the direction of happening” but cautioned that nothing is finalized, and the additions are “only in pencil.”

Expansion requires the approval of 12 of the 15 existing ACC members, however four schools — Clemson, Florida State, NC State and North Carolina — have expressed their dissent. One of those programs would need to change its vote, “and there’s an expectation that will happen this week,” per the report.

If approved, all three newcomers would be expected to join the ACC in all sports for the 2024-25 season.

Stanford and Cal reportedly agreed to accept a smaller share (approximately 30 percent) of league revenues if they join the ACC, while SMU reportedly would be amenable to getting zero broadcast money for its first seven years in the league.

Cal and Stanford are looking for new homes after the disintegration of the Pac-12 Conference over the past year. UCLA and Southern Cal kicked off the exodus last summer by announcing their move to the Big Ten. Last month, Colorado moved to the Big 12, and Arizona, Arizona State and Utah soon followed.

Oregon and Washington then relocated to the Big Ten, leaving just Stanford, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State still in the Pac-12.

The ACC last changed its membership in 2014, when Louisville arrived as Maryland exited. Notre Dame is one of the 15, though it maintains independence in football despite playing multiple ACC opponents annually.

–Field Level Media