California Golden Bears Dominate Opening Week Amidst Pac-12 Upsets


“We just want to be as sharp as we can.”

After the California Golden Bears opening week dismantling of the Grambling State Tigers, the team’s leader, quarterback Jared Goff said “we wanted to go out there and be sharp”. If a 73-14 win can be considered sharp, they certainly succeeded there.

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Grambling State, playing out of the NCAA Division I-AA Southwestern Atlantic Conference, didn’t exactly provide the greatest competition for the Golden Bears. But Cal did exactly what they’re supposed to do against teams like the Tigers: they dominated.

On their first offensive possession, Cal wasted no time in putting up their first points of the season. Less than two minutes into the campaign, running back Daniel Lasco scampered into the endzone from four yards out, and Cal never looked back.

The first quarter was an offensive explosion, as the Bears scored five touchdowns. In addition to Lasco’s run, Goff threw two scoring strikes to receiver Kenny Lawler. The Bears’ defense picked off two passes, and Cameron Walker and Devante Downs each took their respective interceptions to the house for a pick-six.

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The Bears put up 35 points in that quarter, tying a school record for most points in a quarter set in 2002 against the Baylor Bears. They didn’t take the second quarter off, as Goff threw another scoring pass to Lawler, who tied the school record with three touchdown grabs. Matt Anderson added a 20-yard field goal, and Vic Enwere collected a touchdown run with under two minutes in the half.

At the break, the Bears held an extremely comfortable 52-0 lead, setting the school record for most points scored in a half. Goff didn’t play in the final half, but still finished with 24 completions on 32 attempts, 309 yards, and three touchdowns.

His replacement, freshman Chase Forrest, picked up where Goff left off, going 10-for-17 with 162 yards and a score, which come on a 62-yard strike to Bug Rivera, a senior transfer seeing his first action with the Bears. Cal ended the game with 73 points, the second-most in school history, behind only their 1991 performance against Pacific. The offense as a whole racked up 660 yards of total offense, averaging 7.6 yards per play.

The offense was supposed to be phenomenal, but the defense was the biggest question mark entering the season. For this week at least, the unit silenced critics as they came through with an impressive performance. The defense swarmed Tigers’ quarterback Jonathan Williams in the first half, picking off four of his passes, and bringing him down for three sacks. The first unit held a shutout through the first half, and the second unit didn’t allow any points until after the fourth quarter started.

Cal put themselves in good standing after one game, which is something that a few of their Pac-12 rivals can’t say for themselves. 15th-ranked Arizona State was beaten handily by Texas A&M, 38-17. 21st-ranked Stanford came out completely flat, scoring only six points in a loss to Northwestern. Washington State fell to Portland State. Boise State barely snuck by Washington, 16-13. In a wild weekend for the Pac-12, Cal passed their first test with flying colors.

As Cal moves on to week two, and some tougher competition in San Diego State, their huge win against Grambling will be a big confidence and momentum boost. Cal faces two tough opponents in their next two games before the conference schedule kicks off (the Bears travel to Austin to take on Texas after SDSU), and will need to carry over some of what they built up with this dominating win.

Next: Goff a Legitimate Heisman Contender