Sep 17, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime (7) runs the ball in the second quarter against the California Bears at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame survives Cal for first win of Marcus Freeman era

First-time starter Drew Pyne threw 6 yards to Michael Mayer for the tie-breaking score with 9:16 remaining Saturday afternoon and Notre Dame recorded the first win of the Marcus Freeman era with a 24-17 victory over California in South Bend, Ind.

Audric Estime ran for a 1-yard score in the third quarter and Blake Grupe kicked a 47-yard field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth as the Fighting Irish (1-2) rallied from 7-0, 10-7 and 17-14 deficits to win for the first time after losses to Ohio State and Marshall.

Purdue transfer Jack Plummer had a touchdown pass and a 1-yard TD plunge, the latter coming with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter and giving the Golden Bears (2-1) their final lead at 17-14.

But after struggling offensively in the first half, Notre Dame got its ground game going after the intermission, with Estime running up 76 yards on 18 carries and Chris Tyree 64 on 17 attempts.

Notre Dame outrushed Cal 147-112, with Plummer accounting for 34 of the visitors’ yards, mostly on scrambles.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish defense, which saw Cal outgain the hosts 184-118 in the first half, stepped up big-time after halftime, limiting the Golden Bears to just 112 more yards. Notre Dame finished with a 297-296 advantage in total yardage.

Cal did get one final opportunity to draw even, but Plummer’s desperation pass into the end zone from 35 yards away as time ran out was deflected, then went in and out of the hands of prone wideout Jeremiah Hunter, triggering a Notre Dame celebration.

Pyne, starting in place of injured Tyler Buchner, overcame a shaky start to go 17-for-23 for 150 yards and two TDs. Tyree was his favorite target with five catches, 44 yards and the one touchdown.

Plummer finished 16-for-37 for 184 yards and one touchdown. Hunter had five catches for 66 yards for the Golden Bears, who were facing Notre Dame for the first time since 1967.

Thanks mostly to its defense, Cal dominated the first half and could have led more than 10-7 if not for an untimely penalty.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Golden Bears scored on an 18-yard pass from Plummer to J. Michael Sturdivant and a 34-yard field goal by Dario Longhetto.

In between, Notre Dame’s Grupe missed a 45-yard field goal attempt, but Cal was called for lining up offside, resulting in a first down.

Two plays later, Pyne connected with Tyree for a 21-yard TD that drew the hosts even.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; UNLV Rebels linebacker Fred Thompkins (10) hits California Golden Bears wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter (3) as defensive back Davone Walden Jr. (37) tackles during the second quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Cal uses 4th-down stops to hold off UNLV

Jack Plummer threw for 278 yards and California’s defense stopped visiting UNLV on three fourth-down conversion attempts in Golden Bear territory in the second half in a 20-14 victory Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.

Plummer, a transfer from Purdue, completed 28 of 39 pass attempts with one touchdown and one interception.

UNLV’s final failed attempt on fourth down occurred at the California 8 with 2:46 remaining. Doug Brumfield’s pass fell incomplete intended for Kyle Williams.

The Rebels (1-1) started their last possession at their own 44 with 1:06 left, but Brumfield was sacked twice and he threw an interception on a long desperation pass to end the game.

Brumfield finished with 206 yards passing with a touchdown and interception while completing 18 of 33 pass attempts.

California (2-0) took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter scoring two touchdowns, both by Jaydn Ott on a 2-yard run and 12-yard reception from a pass by Plummer.

UNLV was outgained 268-109 in total yards in the first half and the Rebels trailed 17-7 at halftime. California finished with 370 total yards while UNLV amassed 309.

After Brumfield’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Williams on the first play of the second quarter, California capped the scoring in the opening half on Dario Longhetto’s 21-yard field goal.

The Golden Bears increased their lead to 20-7 with 8:21 left in the third quarter on Longhetto’s 30-yard field goal.

UNLV answered on its next possession going 75 yards on four plays for a score. Brumfield completed a 33-yard pass to Williams and Aidan Robbins capped the drive with a 31-yard touchdown run with 7:04 left in the third quarter.

Robbins had 84 yards on 14 carries.

The Rebels were successful on an onside kick attempt following the touchdown, but failed to take advantage of the recovery turning the ball over on downs at the California 39.

UNLV’s next possession also stalled on fourth down at the Golden Bear 45.

California was in position for another field-goal attempt by Longhetto from 43 yards with 8:06 left but the attempt was wide right. Longhetto made a career-high seven consecutive field-goal attempts before that miss.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears running back Jaydn Ott (6) carries the ball against the UC Davis Aggies during the third quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Cal striving for better start vs. improved UNLV

After Cal got off to a slow start last week against UC Davis, the Golden Bears sorted out their opening-game issues and rolled over their lower-division rival for a three-touchdown victory.

Now Cal faces a team that won just two games last season but showed last week it might be vastly improved.

UNLV can equal its win total from the previous two seasons combined Saturday when it visits Cal at Berkeley, Calif.

The Rebels, who went 2-10 last year after going 0-6 during a COVID-19-impacted season, jumped out to a 45-7 lead at the half against visiting Idaho State en route to a 55-21 win.

UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield went 21 of 25 for 356 yards and threw four first-half touchdowns.

Ricky White had two first-half receiving touchdowns for the Rebels and by halftime had 182 receiving yards. White had touchdown receptions of 72 and 19 yards in the second quarter before he and Brumfield and several other starters were able to root on their teammates from the sideline in the second half.

UNLV finished with 554 total yards, including 405 through the air. The Rebels’ 45 first-half points were the second-most in school history, trailing only the 52 points scored against Idaho State in an 80-8 triumph in 2015.

“It was big for an offense to have that confidence and momentum,” Brumfield said. “In a lot of games last year, we weren’t able to do that. So to come out this year in our first game and execute is very big.”

Cal wasn’t nearly as dominant in its season opener. After being held to minus-1 yard in the first quarter while trailing 7-0, the Golden Bears scored the game’s next 24 points and cruised to victory.

“It was like, ‘Guys, it probably couldn’t have gone too much worse,’ ” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said. “We got that out of us and then settled down and moved the ball down the field.”

Cal QB Jack Plummer went 23 for 35 for 268 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for the Bears and Jaydn Ott ran for 104 yards on 15 carries in becoming the first Cal freshman to rush for more than 100 yards in his first college game since 2008, when Shane Vereen ran for 101 yards against Michigan State.

In the first minute of the second half, Craig Woodson picked off a UC Davis pass and returned it interception 39 yards for a touchdown, turning a 17-7 edge into a 24-7 lead.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears fans during the third quarter against the Oregon State Beavers at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona ends 20-game skid by beating COVID-depleted Cal

Michael Wiley’s 10-yard touchdown run with 2:17 remaining was the difference in Arizona ending its 20-game losing streak with a 10-3 Pac-12 win Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., over a California team depleted by COVID-19 protocol.

Arizona, which had the longest losing streak in the nation, won its sixth straight against California. The Wildcats (1-8, 1-5 Pac-12) won for the first time since Oct. 5, 2019 at Colorado.

The Bears (3-6, 2-4) were without 24 players, including quarterback Chase Garbers, and five coaches were entered into COVID-19 protocols earlier this week.

Garbers took every snap at quarterback through Cal’s first eight games. Transfer Ryan Glover, who played last spring at Western Carolina after three years at Penn, was the starter.

Glover completed 11 of 29 passes for 94 yards.

The teams traded field goals in the third quarter to open the scoring.

Tyler Loop’s 29-yard field goal with 5:46 left in the quarter was answered by Nick Lopez, who made his first career attempt, a 34-yarder with 2:09 remaining. Lopez replaced Dario Longhetto, one of the players affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.

In that drive, Cal achieved its first third-down conversion in the game after failing in its first eight attempts.

The Golden Bears finished with 122 yards of total offense while Arizona tallied 331.

Arizona quarterback Will Plummer suffered a shoulder injury in the first half, forcing him to leave the field twice to the locker room to be examined. He went to the locker room again in the third quarter with a bloody hand.

Plummer completed 16 of 28 passes for 129 yards with two interceptions. He also rushed for 68 yards on 11 carries.

Converted receiver Jamarye Joiner and fifth-string quarterback Luke Ashworth took snaps for Arizona, which has lost Jordan McCloud (knee and ankle injuries) and Gunner Cruz (thumb) for the season.

Arizona’s best scoring situation in the first half with 9:09 left in the first quarter when the Wildcats reached the Cal 7-yard line but Plummer’s pass on third-and-goal was tipped by Nate Rutchena and fellow linebacker Evan Tattersall intercepted the pass.

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) passes the football during the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona lugs 20-game skid into matchup with improving Cal

After convincing home wins against Colorado and Oregon State following a near-upset at Oregon, California will try to keep its momentum rolling against struggling Arizona on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

Cal (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12) is still playing for a winning season. Arizona (0-8, 0-5) is trying to snap a 20-game losing streak, the longest in the nation presently and a dubious school record.

Bears coach Justin Wilcox said, “We’re certainly improving. There are some guys that are developing and making some big plays in the game and kind of coming into their own a little bit.”

One of them is quarterback Chase Garbers, who in last week’s 39-25 win over Oregon State rushed for a touchdown on the opening drive. That set the school career record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 10.

Garbers also secured a career-high passer rating of 188.1, topping his previous personal best of 187. He completed 17 of 26 pass attempts for 262 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

He also avoided getting sacked while rushing for 58 yards on 10 carries.

The Golden Bears tallied a season-high 255 yards on 47 carries.

Arizona is second to last in the Pac-12 in rushing yards allowed per game (192.0). The Wildcats yielded 234 yards on the ground last week in a 41-34 loss at Southern California.

After a 34-0 loss at Colorado, the Wildcats have lost their last two games by a touchdown or less, falling 21-16 against Washington before the USC game.

“I made the reference last week about going from losing big to losing small to winning small to winning big,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “That was another great example of being there but not over the hump.

“I think we all saw that there was absolutely no flinch, no letdown, no anything, and we got to play four quarters of football.”

Will Plummer completed 20 of 34 pass attempts for 264 yards while rushing for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Backup Jamarye Joiner, a former quarterback turned receiver, took snaps against at QB the Trojans. His first appearance resulted in a 73-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Joiner is not expected to play against California because of a right knee sprain. That leaves Plummer as the only able quarterback after Jordan McCloud (right knee and ankle) and Gunner Cruz (broken thumb) previously sustained season-ending injuries.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Berkeley, California, USA; Oregon State Beavers wide receiver Champ Flemings (2) spins against California Golden Bears punter Dario Longhetto (30) on a punt return during the first quarter at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cal beats Oregon State behind Chase Garbers’ 4 TDs (3 pass, 1 rush)

Chase Garbers threw three touchdown passes and ran for a fourth Saturday afternoon, leading California to a 39-25 Pacific-12 Conference football victory over visiting Oregon State.

Damien Moore led all rushers with 111 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and fellow back Christopher Brooks complemented an 83-yard rushing effort with two TD catches for the Golden Bears (3-5, 2-3 Pac-12), who used a balanced attack with 255 yards rushing and 262 passes to win a second straight.

Trevon Bradford caught six passes for 124 yards and two scores, both from Chance Nolan, for the Beavers (5-3, 3-2), who hurt themselves with two interceptions and a fumble. They also had a punt blocked.

Cal led by two touchdowns on four occasions in the game, including 31-17 late in the third quarter after the contest’s most important sequence of plays.

Forced to punt when down 24-17, Oregon State’s Luke Loecher had his kick blocked by Cal backup tight end Nick Alftin. Garbers then found Trevon Clark for a 38-yard TD on the next play, increasing the Golden Bears’ lead to 31-17.

Nolan’s second TD pass to Bradford, this one from 46 yards, coupled with a two-point conversion run by Nolan, got Oregon State back within 31-25 with still 11:23 remaining in the game.

But Garbers then drove Cal 75 yards in 11 plays, icing the win with a 2-yard TD pass to Brooks with 5:36 to go.

Garbers finished 17-for-26 for 262 yards and the three scores. Clark was his top receiver with five catches for 90 yards.

Nolan went 15-for-26 for 243 yards with two touchdowns, but was intercepted twice.

Deshaun Fenwick was Oregon State’s top rusher with 48 yards and a 4-yard TD run on 10 carries. The run-dominant Beavers were outrushed 255-134.

Cal had no turnovers in the game and just one penalty for 15 yards. Oregon State’s three turnovers. included a B.J. Baylor fumble on the Beavers’ first offensive play of the game.

Garbers’ TD run came from 2 yards out and opened the scoring in the game’s third minute. Moore added an 8-yard TD run in the second quarter, helping Cal build a 17-10 halftime advantage.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan (left) is tackled by Oregon State Beavers inside linebacker Avery Roberts (34) during the second half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Tied atop Pac-12 North, Oregon State gears up for Cal

Oregon State hopes to continue its surprising run toward a potential Pacific-12 Conference football championship when the Beavers oppose Cal on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

Winners of five of six since an opening loss at Purdue, Oregon State (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) got the conference’s attention last Saturday with its second shocker in the past four weeks, stunning Utah 42-34.

The Beavers won 45-27 at Southern California on Sept. 25.

Oregon State enters play this week tied with No. 7 Oregon atop the Pac-12 North. The rivals are scheduled to meet Nov. 27, but the Beavers must deal with Cal (2-5, 1-3), Colorado, Stanford and Arizona State in between.

Oregon State is catching Cal as it rides the momentum of its most impressive effort of the season, a 26-3 home shellacking of Colorado. The Golden Bears had fallen inches short a week earlier in a 24-17 loss at then-No. 9 Oregon.

The game matches Cal quarterback Chase Garbers against Oregon State defensive standout Avery Roberts.

Garbers completed 22 of 29 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Colorado. The senior did serious damage on the ground as well, rushing 10 times for 96 yards.

Along the way, Garber broke Joe Kapp’s Cal career rushing record for quarterbacks.

“All of the credit goes to the other 10 guys on offense,” Garbers said. “They’re the reason why I can run, why I can throw, the reason why I’m successful at this school and in this offense.”

When Garbers runs Saturday, he’d be wise to run away from Roberts, who had 16 tackles in the Beavers’ win over Utah, an effort for which he earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The junior linebacker ranks third in the nation with 11.1 tackles per game.

Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith credits the guys in front of Roberts.

“The (defensive) line of scrimmage has been better this year,” Smith said, “and that’s allowed the linebackers like Avery Roberts to have the production he is. We’re doing some things at the line of scrimmage keeping him free.”

Oregon State has beaten Cal in the past two meetings, including 21-17 in 2019 when the schools last tangled in Berkeley.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) runs with the ball as Washington Huskies defensive back Alex Cook (5) and defensive back Mishael Powell (23) move in to make a tackle during the second half of a game at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. The Huskies won 31-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Cal, Washington State eye rebound from tough losses

Two teams that watched potential Pac-12 Conference victories slip through their grasp last weekend hope to finish stronger this time when Washington State visits California on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, Calif.

The home team has won the past five meetings in the 102-year-old rivalry, with Cal prevailing 33-20 two years ago behind three touchdown passes from Devon Modster, who was subbing for the injured Chase Garbers.

Garbers already has surpassed 1,000 passing yards in four games this season, including a season-high 319 last week in a 31-24 overtime loss at Washington.

Down seven in the extra session, Cal (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) drove to the Washington 2 before Damien Moore fumbled at the goal line, preventing the Golden Bears from potentially either tying the score with a PAT or going for the road win with a two-pointer.

“In football you’ve got to have a short memory,” Garbers said afterward. “Obviously, losing (stinks). We’ve got to learn from it and move on.”

At least the Golden Bears came out of the game relatively healthy. The same could not be said of Washington State (1-3, 0-2), which held a 13-10 lead into the final five minutes at Utah before giving up two late scores in a 24-13 defeat.

Along the way, the Cougars saw standout running back Max Borghi sprain his left wrist, and three safeties left the game, so the visitors had only two remaining healthy safeties on the roster, according to coach Nick Rolovich.

Borghi rushed for 42 yards on six carries, with a long of 18 yards, before his injury on the first snap of the second quarter. Backups Deon McIntosh and Nakia Watson combined for 60 yards on 14 tries over the final three quarters.

“Those would be the two guys,” Rolovich said of this week’s possible replacements for Borghi, who has not been ruled out. X-rays taken over the weekend were negative. “They’re both very good in pass protection, both ready to play. It’s good to have two guys ready to go.”

Borghi was the team’s leading rusher, albeit with just 19 yards, and caught eight passes for 36 yards in the loss at Cal in 2019.

He has rushed for 259 yards and two touchdowns in Washington State’s first four games. The squad has just two other rushing TDs, one coming from quarterback Jayden de Laura, who missed the Utah game with a knee injury.

He, like Borghi, remains questionable to return this week.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Chase Garbers (7) throws the ball against the Oregon Ducks during the third quarter at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cal aims for rebound performance vs. formidable TCU

Two teams that have yet to put together a full 60-minute performance hook up Saturday afternoon when California visits TCU in a non-conference football game at Fort Worth, Texas.

The Golden Bears (0-1) began their campaign with a brilliant first quarter, but then saw their offense mostly disappear in a disappointing 22-17 home loss to Nevada last Saturday night.

The Pacific-12 squad will be up against a much more formidable opponent when they duel the Horned Frogs (1-0), whose 45-3 home demolition of Duquesne had to be shortened by six minutes due to the visitors’ uncompetitive effort.

The schools have met just once in football, with TCU claiming a 10-7 overtime victory in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix.

Chase Garbers was a freshman starter at quarterback that day for Cal, and now he’s a senior with 25 games of experience. He rushed for Cal’s only touchdown in the bowl game.

The Golden Bears looked like a running-game juggernaut against Nevada, marching 63 yards on 15 plays on their first possession, followed by 72 yards on nine plays the second time they had the ball.

After one quarter, Cal led 14-0, having already accumulated 76 rushing yards and a 13:21-1:39 dominance in time of possession.

But Cal didn’t score again until a Dario Longhetto field goal in the third minute of the fourth quarter, and finished the game with just 153 rushing yards. Garbers wound up with more passing attempts (38) than the Golden Bears had runs (27).

“There wasn’t any drastic changes. We really struggled to stay in rhythm after that (first quarter),” Cal coach Justin Wilcox noted. “We didn’t go into the game saying, ‘Hey, in the second and third quarters, we’re not going to run it.’”

Neither did TCU in its win over Duquesne.

Like Cal, the Horned Frogs of the Big 12 Conference scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the season. Unlike Cal, they added three more before halftime once they had the opponent down.

“It was good for us to get started fast and stay on them,” assured junior quarterback Max Duggan, who threw for one score and ran for another. “We didn’t want to play sloppy and make errors. It was a good half, and I was happy with it.”

Ten different Horned Frogs got an opportunity to run the ball, with none gaining more than 54 yards. Four different guys rushed for scores.

Aside from Garbers, several combatants Saturday should be at least vaguely familiar with one another.

Running back Christopher Brooks, then known as Christopher Brown Jr., was Cal’s leading rusher in the Cheeze-It Bowl meeting, while Nikko Remigio, who scored the Golden Bears’ second touchdown against Nevada, was the game’s leading pass-catcher.

Three years later, TCU returns running back Emari Demercado, who rushed for a touchdown against Duquesne, and wideouts Taye Barber and Derius Davis, who combined for 91 yards of receptions in the opener.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Berkeley, California, USA; California Golden Bears linebacker Kuony Deng (8) gestures after defeating the Oregon Ducks at California Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cal, Washington State still hoping for bowl bid

California and Washington State, both in need of a win to boost their bowl chances, duel in what amounts to an elimination game Saturday night in Pullman, Wash.

The contest is, for now, scheduled as the Pac-12 regular-season finale for each squad.

The home team has won the last five in a row in the rivalry, with Cal getting rushing and receiving touchdowns from running back Christopher Brown Jr. last year in a 33-20 home win.

The Bears (1-3, 1-3 Pac-12) were staring at a winless 2020 season a week ago before surprising then No. 23 Oregon 21-17 in Berkeley, Calif. Now Cal is a win over the Cougars (1-2, 1-2), coupled with a victory next week if/when the Pac-12 adds a game to its schedule as expected, from a 3-3 campaign and a puncher’s chance at a third straight trip to the postseason.

Washington State is in a similar position, although it enters the contest on a two-game losing streak. Still, a win Saturday and another next week could still produce a 3-2 record that might warrant bowl-scout attention.

All teams are bowl-eligible this year regardless of record due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cal got a big game from Nikko Remigio in its victory over Oregon. The wideout had six catches for 81 yards and what turned out to be the difference-making touchdown in the fourth quarter.

“He’s a true playmaker,” quarterback Chase Garbers said of Remigio, who had two long kick returns nullified by penalties in Cal’s earlier loss to Oregon State. “We put the ball in his hands and he’s going to do something.”

Washington State dominated the passing numbers in last year’s game, with Brandon Arconado and Easop Winston Jr. combining for 21 receptions for 243 yards and a touchdown.

But both have since graduated, turning the Cougars into more of a running team this season. That could be even more the case against Cal if standout back Max Borghi is finally able to return from a back injury sustained before the opener.

Washington State freshman quarterback Jayden de Laura was pulled after three quarters last week in the Cougars’ 38-13 loss at Southern California.

Wideout Travell Harris expects a bounce-back performance this week from de Laura.

“He dealt with the adversity good,” Harris said. “It’s not just about Jayden or me or coach (Nick Rolovich). We all have to come together. Jayden had excellent energy. He did a good job.”

The game matches a Cal team that’s winless on the road in conference play (0-2) against a Cougars squad that has played just once at home, a 43-29 defeat to Oregon.

–Field Level Media