Someone was going to have a long string of Pac-12 futility come to an end on Saturday at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.
As it turns out, that someone was the Colorado Buffaloes, who snapped a 14-game conference losing streak with a 41-24 win over the Cal Golden Bears on a windy day near the Rocky Mountains.
For the Golden Bears (1-10, 0-8 Pac-12), their Pac-12 losing streak stretched to 13 games. They haven’t won since beating FCS Portland State in the season’s second week.
Sefo Liufau battled the wind and won, throwing for 364 yards and three touchdowns for the Buffs (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12). Cal freshman Jared Goff wasn’t as successful battling the elements, going 23-for-45 for 173 yards and an interception.
One plus for the Golden Bears was the running game, which has varied from inconsistent to nonexistent this season. Cal rolled for a season-high 197 yards on 34 carries, led by Brendan Bigelow. Bigelow had the Bears’ first 100-yard rushing performance of the season Saturday, going for 107 yards on 15 carries and scoring twice, while Khalfani Muhammad added a 55-yard scoring burst as part of his 78-yard day.
Bigelow’s 100-yard game was the first for Cal since Isi Sofele ran for 109 yards against Oregon State in last season’s finale. Muhammad had the previous season high for a Golden Bear runner with 91 yards—on four carries—at Washington on Oct. 26.
Colorado took a 3-0 first period lead on a 27-yard field goal by Will Oliver and made it 10-0 on the first play of the second quarter on a 10-yard pass from Liufau to Kyle Slavin.
Vincenzo D’Amato booted a 42-yard field goal for the Bears to close the gap to 10-3 and on the first play of Cal’s next possession, Muhammad found a seam to the left and bounced the run outside and streaked 55 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 10-10.
But Colorado would score twice in the final 2:40 of the half to take control of the game.
Liufau hooked up with Tony Jones for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 17-10 with 2:40 to go in the half.
Darius Powe mishandled a surprise onside kick and Colorado’s Isaac Archuleta recovered the ball at the Cal 49. Eight plays later, Christian Powell scored on a two-yard run and it was 24-10 in favor of the Buffs.
Oliver provided the only points of the third quarter on a 24-yard field goal with 42 seconds left in the period to put Colorado up 27-10 and Liufau put the game out of reach early in the fourth on a 63-yard touchdown pass to Michael Adkins II to give the Buffaloes a 34-10 lead with 12:22 left.
Bigelow scored his first touchdown from a yard out with 6:14 left and then it was back to some more special teams follies for the Golden Bears.
D’Amato squibbed an onside kick that Colorado’s Nelson Spruce not only recovered, but returned 46 yards for a touchdown to make it 41-17.
Bigelow closed the scoring on a 26-yard run with 1:23 to go in the game.
Freshman Kenny Lawler was held out of the end zone for the first time in three games, but led the Cal receiving corps with six catches for 81 yards. Paul Richardson hauled in 11 passes for Colorado for 140 yards and Spruce had 140 yards on eight receptions.
It’s been a long first season for Cal coach Sonny Dykes. Not only are the Bears 1-10 and winless against FBS competition, but an unidentified player was suspended Friday for his role in a locker room attack on redshirt freshman running back Fabiano Hale on Nov. 1.
The player will be suspended from all team activities, required to attend counseling and must perform 25 hours of community service before he can be considered for reinstatement.
The Golden Bears season comes to a close next Saturday when they visit No. 4 Stanford at The Farm for The Big Game. Kickoff time has yet to be announced.