Chen Yue had little trepidation about coming 6,000 miles from Beijing to Cal to play for the 21st-ranked Golden Bears.
The 6-foot-7 freshman center, who is believed to be one of the first Chinese basketball players to play at a high college level, wanted to challenge herself both on the court and in the classroom. So heading to the U.S. was an easy decision.
"American colleges have a high level of basketball and academics," she said. "It helps you not only with basketball, but for your whole life. It develops your whole character for the future."
She is one of 275 international players competing this season in women's Division I basketball. Nearly 50 different countries are represented, including Russia, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Senegal, Canada and China. While that number is down a little bit from last season when over 300 foreigners were playing, there has been an upward trend over the past few years. Last season 4.9 percent of women's players were from foreign countries.
Armed Forces Bowl
Air Force and California will play for the ninth time overall and second time in a bowl game. This is the first meeting between the schools since playing in the 2007 Armed Force's Bowl. The Bears lead the overall series, 6-2, including a 42-36 win in the 2007 Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force is 2-2 on the road, 0-3 at home and 0-1 in post-season play against California. The teams first played in 1961 in California. The Falcons won the game, 15-14. The Bears won the next four meetings. Air Force picked up it's second victory of the series in 2002 at Cal, beating the 23rd-ranked Bears, 23-21.
[Tuesday's] game marks the second time Air Force has had a rematch in the bowl. The Falcons played Houston in back-toback games in 2008-09.
Cal is led by Jared Goff who became the first quarterback in program history to be named first-team all-conference in 2015 since Aaron Rodgers in 2004 and was also a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. Goff started all 12 regular-season games and has surpassed his own single-season records for passing yards (4,252), touchdown passes (37), total offense (4,260) and touchdowns responsible for (37), while he is within reach of his own single-season marks for pass completions (316, record 320 in 2014), pass attempts (492, record 531 in 2013) and total plays (546, record 590 in 2013).
Goff became the ninth quarterback in Pac-12 history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a campaign and ranks seventh on the league's all-time single-season list, completing 316-of-492 (64.2%) passes for a 156.36 passer efficiency rating that currently ranks second on Cal's all-time single-season list. Goff leads the Pac-12 and ranks third in the nation in touchdown passes, while he is second in the Pac-12 and in the top 10 nationally in passing yards per game (#4 NCAA, 354.3), total offense (#5 NCAA, 355.0 ypg), completions per game (#5 NCAA, 26.33), passing yards; points responsible for per game (#7 NCAA, 19.2 ppg) and points responsible for (#9 NCAA, 230).
AIR FORCE ACADEMY â After the Armed Forces Bowl, Jared Goff's next football snaps likely will take place in the NFL.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has the California star as the first quarterback off the board, going to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 5. Other projections have him as high as No. 2. CBS Sports also has him going to the 49ers.
But first, Goff will face Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday. And the Falcons are excited about it.
"I love it," outside linebacker D.J. Dunn said. "It would be even better if we defeat them. I think that would be a better thing to talk to my kids about."
Goff has thrown for 4,252 yards, 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and completed 64.2 percent of his passes this season for the Golden Bears (7-5). He has averaged 460 yards in the air over his past three games, with 13 touchdown passes and just one interception.
He will join a shortlist of the best QBs to face Air Force (8-5) in the past nine years. Aside from TCU's Andy Dalton, the only other approaching this level was perhaps Michigan State's Connor Cook this season.
"He's probably the best quarterback I've faced as a coach since we played (Ben) Roethlisberger three years in a row at Ohio University," Air Force defensive coordinator Steve Russ said of Goff. "He's a different guy than Ben, but he's that kind of caliber of a guy. I'm very impressed with the guy, and at the same time it's our job to go out there and find a way to slow him down."