The Golden Bears are bowl eligible for the first time since 2011, and Jared Goff threw for a season high 6 touchdowns.
Yet this win was far from being all ROSES, instead on this SUNday morning (hey, it's late here on the East Coast), I am left with the feeling that if I try to bet big (like with someone else's money) on our Bears to be competitive next week against Stanford in LAS VEGAS, I might find myself in trouble amongst the CACTUSes.
Like many of the other wins earlier this season, the Bears had to overcome a slow and sluggish start again. It also didn't help that even against a struggling team on their N-th backup QB, the Bears inexplicably still allowed the other team to score. On the bright side, I think I will have a fairly realistic expectation of the Big Game, heading into next week.
Okay, that's probably enough negativity from me on this win. It is time to celebrate how the Bears ended a 4 game losing streak, #drop50 for the first time since forever, and how this was one of Jared Goff's best statistical game (and hopefully not his last time too in a Cal uniform). This win was also the first time that the Bears were able to defeat the Oregon State Beavers at Memorial Stadium since 1997 (there was that "home" win from AT&T Park during this period though). The Bears earned an extra game to
have some extra practice time allow Cal fans the opportunity to watch our best team in a 4-5 year stretch in action one more time.
Playing against an Oregon State team that had a DB rotation that is reminiscent of Cal last year - a rotating door due to injuries, you would expect Jare Goff and the Bear Raid to have an easy time picking apart that defense. That was not so on the Bears' first two drives. The Bears' first drive was a 3 and out thanks to 3 incomplete passes where Goff was a bit off the mark and off on the timing with his receivers (for some reason, it felt like Goff's timing with his guys has worsen as the year goes on rather than improving). The 0 for 3 in the first drive actually made Goff's final impressive total of 26 for 37 completion look a bit more impressive, but before we got to that we had to endure a second Cal drive where we finally moved the ball but couldn't put points on due to Goff being tripped up on 4th and 3 when Sonny decided (correctly, in my opinion) to go for it on 4th and short in long field goal range.
Meanwhile, for the Beavers' first 3 drives - an offense that was led by a backup redshirt freshman QB in Nick Mitchell somehow engineered 3 first downs. The Cal defense bent a little bit, but did not break.
The Bears never trailed in this game. After establishing the run in that fruitless second drive, the Bears got on the board on their 3rd drive. Bears established their ground game with Daniel Lasco getting a big first down run, and Goff started to make some connections with his receivers before finding Trevor Davis on a deep throw that TD almost turned into a TD - a 54 yards play - had Trevor's Nike jersey had just ripped rather than allow the defender to pull him down. On the very next play, Goff found Kenny Lawler in the back of the endzone when Lawler made another highlight reel worthy one handed catch. Lawler, unfortunately, limped off the field after landing hard on his lower body.
At the end of the 1st quarter, it was Cal 7, Oregon State 0.
The Beavers answered the Bears with a score and long drive of their own. On 4th and short at midfield, Oregon State had a way too easy of a time picking up the short yardage. Then at a distance where Cal would not trust their place kicker (sorry Matt Anderson), Oregon State connected on a 46 yard field goal to get on the board.
A big Trevor Davis return set up the Bears' next score. A 26 yard connection with Bryce Treggs got the Bears in good position. A couple incompletion (one was a dropped TD) and a sack (Goff actually didn't get hit that much in this game, despite the usual Cal O-line woes) meant that it was time for Matt Anderson to hit a long field goal. The Cal kicker made the 45 yard attempt to keep the Bears ahead by a touchdown.
The Bear Raid kicked it up a gear on their next to drives. A big play from Goff to Maurice Harris set up the next drive with Vic Enwere wearing down the Oregon State defense. Enwere scored the touchdown with a short run. Next drive, the Tre Watson turned a short pass into this highlight worthy touchdown (an assist to Jordan Rigsbee on a great block) to essentially break open the game at 24-3.
Of course, the Oregon State Beavers would not just go away. With less than a minute left in the first half (and the prospect of the Bears getting the ball to start the second half), OSU scored a quick touchdown with 4 completions and a defensive holding Cal penalty. At the half, it was Cal 24, Oregon State 10.
Bears put the game away for good with a strong opening of the 2nd half - going 3 touchdowns in 3 drives. Goff found Darius Powe for a 19 yard TD (Matt Anderson's PAT attempt was blocked however...good to get that out of his system in this game, I guess). Goff then connected with Maurice Harris for an 18 yard and then a 29 yard touchdowns (credit mostly to Harris to turn short passes in long touchdowns) as the Bear Raid showcased how efficient it could be (can we please see a stretch of it next week? please?).
To the Bears' 3 touchdowns, Beavers answered with 2. A nice long run of 37 yard by Damien Haskins set up a QB keeper score by Mitchell. Mitchell then engineered a 12 play, 4 minute drives that ended with a pass to a wide open Noah Togiai for another touchdown. Unfortunately for the Beavers, whatever little chance that they had to pull off a comeback basically ended in the end of this drive as their starting QB for this game Nick Mitchell was hit hard and had to leave.
Oregon State had to go to Marcus McMaryion for the rest of the game and it was no coincidence that they did not score anymore.
Jared Goff's first attempt to break his season high in touchdown thrown led to a forced throw that was picked off. hanks to those two Oregon State touchdowns, however, the Bears did allow Goff and the first team more play time, as the score at the end of 3 quarters was merely Cal 44, Oregon State 24.
Bears added a 20 yard field goal in the drive that carried over to the 4th quarter. After Oregon State turned over on downs, a slowed down clock-killing drive of 5+ minutes ended with Jared Goff finding #99 Malik McMorris for a 11 yard touchdown. Those were the final scorings of the game to make the final score: Cal 54, Oregon State 24.
Jared Goff finished the game completing 26 of 37 attempts for 453 yards. He had a season 6 touch down passes to go with that one late interception. No Cal receiver had over 100 yards (Maurice Harris came close with 97) as Goff spread the ball around to 12 different teammates.
Bears overall had a school record 760 yards of offense. Tre Watson, in addition to that long run that was counted as a pass, ran for 110 yards. Vic Enwere added 89 yards on the ground. Khalfani Muhammad contributed 62 ground yards. Bears had a total of 307 yards to go with all those passing yards.
Some final thoughts:
Oregon State is a bad team this year. The Golden Bear rout of the Beavers was an expected results. Nevertheless, it was not a feat that we Cal fans can take for granted that the Bears will be back to bowling at a location that is NOT Pasadena. More importantly, it was nice to see the Bear Raid functioning at its peak during the middle parts of this game. We can now dream about the possibility of the Bear Raid tearing apart that Stanford defense down at Palo Alto next week.
This win did see Kenny Lawler limp to the sideline (
I don't think he played after that early TD reception who then didn't record another reception but made a difference blocking later in the game) and the defensive revelation that has been Damariay Drew leave the game and did not return with a knee injury. Both of those guys are essential for the Bears.
Yes, the Big Game week is upon us now. Stanford's loss to Oregon means that the Golden Bears now has the chance to deny Stanford of a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game should the Bears beat them and Oregon wins out.
Even with a subdued enthusiasm about our chances next week, I will have to admit that plenty is at stake for the Cal legacies of Jared Goff and even Sonny Dykes on this Big Game. A win against Stanford would add plenty of substance to all those statistical school records held by Goff. Dykes can also use a signature win over our rival to quiet his critics. Just like how we ended a long home losing streak to Oregon State, maybe we can end this current Stanford dominance of the Axe...maybe.