The big question this week isn't whether Cal will go to 5-0 this week. It's whether Aaron Rodgers will take some time to visit Memorial Stadium to watch his undefeated Bears! The Packers play the 49ers on Sunday meaning Green Bay should be in the Bay Area before then. Could this be the time that Rodgers finally meets Jared Goff?
Can we get Aaron Rodgers at this week's Cal game? Packers in town to play 49ers @CalAthletics— Peter Khang (@PeterKhang) September 29, 2015
We'll see (we definitely expect Richard Rodgers to show up!).
Some former Cal Bears who have already watched a Cal game in person: Marshawn Lynch (twice!), Scott Fujita, Brandon Mebane and Tarik Glenn, to name a few!
National Championship Week
BERKELEY - In the moments after his Cal men's swimming team claimed the NCAA title and set an American record in the 200-yard individual medley at the 2015 NCAA Championships, Chuck Katis experienced what all college athletes aspire to achieve - the emotional release earned only by being the best.
"I think it's surreal, because you work so many hours inside and outside of the pool to prepare for that without seeing the results," Katis said. "To be in that moment with your teammates and the entire team and the stands full of our fans behind us, it feels surreal. It's almost dream-like, I'd say."
That moment of temporary delirium is one that several Bears felt in 2015 and, for each who ascended to the top of their respective sport, the sensation won't ever dull. Cal teams and athletes claimed nine national titles in 2014-15, and whether it was the Cal women's swimming team earning the title of best in the land, Cal rugby adding to an already tremendous tradition of excellence or the continued brilliance of Cal men's swimming, each had a common thread running through it.
Hard work really does pay off.
Mads Engsted - who won a pair of titles at last year's Aggie Invitational - hopes to duplicate his success in this year's tournament that runs Friday through Sunday in Davis, California.
This week, California welcomes players from 13 schools - Arizona State, BYU, Cal Poly, UC Davis, Fresno State, Nevada, Pacific, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Francisco, San Jose State, UC Santa Barbara and Santa Clara - to compete with the Golden Bears at the annual Cal Nike Fall Invitational.
Cal baseball fans will have an early opportunity to enjoy the 2015-16 Golden Bears play as head coach David Esquer's squad will be competing against an Alumni team at Evans Diamond during the annual Alumni Baseball Game, on Sunday, Nov. 1 (Papa Bear game at 10 a.m., batting practice at 12 p.m. and Alumni game at 1 p.m., which will be followed by a postgame barbecue), as part of the 2015 Cal Baseball Alumni Weekend.
Swimming & Diving
Mountainside, New Jersey's Alexa Buckley has given a verbal commitment to the University of California Golden Bears, effectively trading one Berkeley for another. Buckley is a senior at The Pingry School in Martinsville, New Jersey, and a member of Berkeley Aquatic Club in Berkeley Heights.
Washington State @ California, Sat. 1 p.m.
The Spokesman-Review: First look at WSU-California Pac-12 game on Saturday
What it means for WSU: This is a chance for the Cougars to go into California and remind recruits that there is a program up north that throws the ball even more than the Golden Bears. Many Pac-12 observers may have written off WSU after the loss to Portland State in the opener, but if the Cougars can beat No. 24 California for their first win over a ranked team since 2013, they can reestablish their reputation as a team to be reckoned with.
What it means for Cal: The Golden Bears are 4-0 for the first time since 2007. They've only made one bowl game since, but can practically assure themselves of a postseason berth with a win Saturday. After playing WSU, Cal must travel to face two Top-10 teams in Utah and UCLA. With all-everything junior quarterback Jared Goff likely to declare for the NFL draft after the season, the Golden Bears need to capitalize on his presence this year.
- Trent Dilfer of ESPN thinks Jared Goff is a top 5 pick. Welcome to the club, Trent.
Why Cal Will Win
Cal is the better version of the Wazzu attack. The Bears have been battle-tested the last three weeks, yet have still averaged close to 40 points over that stretch. Jared Goff is one of the premier quarterbacks in the country, and top RB Daniel Lasco is expected to join Kenny Lawler and a corps of receivers every bit as dangerous as Washington State's. The Cougars are allowing 71.4% of opposing passes to be completed, highest in the Pac-12.
Player Who Matters
Cal has elevated from entertaining to threatening because of the growth of the defense. A glaring liability for so long, the Bears are respectable right now because of the play of LB Jalen Jefferson, DE Kyle Kragen and a secondary performing well above its usual pay scale. Shockingly, Cal is No. 18 nationally in pass efficiency D, yielding just two touchdowns and picking off nine passes.
Last year's 60-59 win at Washington State holds a special place in Cal players' collective memory. Still, that hardly means the video of that game will provide much of a blueprint for the Bears' offense this week.
First-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has instituted sweeping changes for the Cougars. To help Washington State's 3-4 scheme against the pass, the former Missouri assistant replaced one of the linebackers with a nickel back in some base formations. He also has introduced more aggressive blitzes.
Early returns are favorable. The Cougars (2-1) are allowing 187 passing yards per game, a far cry from the 296.6 they surrendered last year. Opposing quarterbacks, once free to hang in the pocket against Washington State, now face consistent pressure.
"I think it's just the fact that they're not doing what they did last year that might be an improvement," Cal quarterback Jared Goff said Tuesday. "That's not meant to be any sort of disrespect, but we were able to put up quite a few yards on them last year."
Quarterback Jared Goff could be a first round pick in the 2016 NFL draft, and he's playing like it at the moment, averaging 310 passing yards per game, with 11 touchdowns. Goff has the Bears off to a 4-0 start, ranked in the Associated Press top 25 (at No. 24) for the first time since 2010. Goff tied the school record for touchdown passes (64) against Washington and could pass Kyle Boller for sole possession of the record when the Golden Bears play Washington State.
Wide receiver Kenny Lawler has a 27-game pass catching streak going. He ranks seventh all time with 19th career touchdown receptions and leads the Golden Bears' receivers with six touchdowns and 293 receiving yards.
Running back Vic Enwere wore down the Huskies in Cal's 30-24 win, finishing with 84 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown run. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound back leads Cal with five rushing touchdowns and has a knack for picking up extra yardage after contact.
Cornerback Darius White picked up his second interception of the season against Washington last week. A former junior college transfer, White has emerged as a solid starter in his second season with the Golden Bears and is third on the team with 18 total tackles.
Nickelback Cameron Walker is an all-around beast for the Golden Bears. He's a pass rush threat who's second on the team with two sacks, and he has also amassed 3.5 tackles for loss, one interception, one pass breakout and two passes defended.