California Golden Bears Improve to 2-0 with Win Over SDSU


“It’s amazing what confidence will do for a football player. It makes all the difference in the world.” -Sonny Dykes

After a huge week one win against the Grambling State Tigers, it’s understandable that the California Golden Bears were confident entering their second game of the season against the San Diego State Aztecs. After a rocky offensive showing, the defense’s confidence should be sky high, as they led the Bears to a 35-7 win.

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Although the Bears scored 35 points on Saturday against the Aztecs, the offense was far from consistent. They came out of the gates flat, and momentum was hard to come by as they sputtered on the majority of their early drives. While the offense searched to find their footing, the other side of the ball carried the load for the Golden Bears.

That didn’t look to be the case early, as the Aztecs drove down the field rather easily on the first drive of the game, capping off the opening drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Maxwell Smith to junior tight end Daniel Brunskill. Less than four minutes into the game, the Bears trailed for the first time this season.

After that drive, the Bears buckled down, shutting out the Aztecs over the remaining 56-plus minutes. San Diego State gained 71 yards on the opening drive, but managed 254 afterwards, and crossed midfield on just three of their final 13 drives. They held Donnel Pumphrey, who ran for over 1,800 yards last year, to 76 yards on 21 carries.

The Aztecs also shot themselves in the foot a ton on Saturday. They committed 12 penalties, including six personal fouls, worth 136 yards.

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These two solid performances have to feel great for the Bears’ defense. They were one of the worst defenses in the country last season, but have allowed just 21 points in two games against opponents that they should be handling.

Despite the sluggish start, which saw the Bears go scoreless on their first two drives, and four of the first five, the Bears were able to gather themselves and put up some points. They scored for the first time on their third drive, when junior quarterback Jared Goff connected with senior wideout Darius Powe for a four-yard score, tying the game at one score apiece.

Just before the first half ended, Goff gave the Bears a lead when he hit senior Maurice Harris for a 13-yard touchdown. Also on that drive, Goff threw a 24-yard completion to junior Kenny Lawler, bringing his career passing yardage total to 7,997, passing Kyle Boller for second in school history.

The Bears showed off their quick scoring capabilities again in the second half, as on the first play after the break, Goff threw a 75-yard score to senior speedster, Trevor Davis. That pass brought Goff’s career touchdown total to 59. Later in the quarter, he surpassed 300 yards for the 14th time in his career.

Goff was pulled midway through the fourth quarter, and finished 17-of-24 with 321 yards and three touchdown. Goff could very well break the school’s passing yard record on his first throw next week against the Texas Longhorns. He’s 16 yards shy of breaking Troy Taylor’s school record of 8,126 yards. He is also just seven completions and six touchdowns away from setting those records as well.

Daniel Lasco had a solid performance as well. He gained 123 yards on 19 carries (a 6.5 yard average), and scored a touchdown in the third quarter that put Cal up by three possessions. He left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a hit to the hip, but head coach Sonny Dykes said after the game that he doesn’t think the injury is “anything major“.

After seventh-ranked Oregon’s loss to Michigan State on Saturday night, the Bears are the only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12 North. All five of their compatriots sit at an even one-and-one record.

With two big confidence-building wins under their belts, the Bears take to the road, traveling to Austin, Texas for a matchup against the Longhorns. Texas has one win and one loss on the year, and are dealing with a bit of a quarterback controversy. Redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard started over junior Tyrone Swoopes against Rice this week, and broke a three-game losing streak.

With San Diego State now in the rearview mirror, the competition only gets tougher. Texas will be the toughest test yet for the Bears, and will prove if they can really hang in the Pac-12 before the conference schedule begins.