Golden Bears and Jared Goff Continue Their Respective Climbs


Things are really heating up for the California Golden Bears. They’re off to their first undefeated start through five games in eight years, and the nation is beginning to take notice. One week after climbing into national rankings for the first time since 2010, the Bears simmied a little higher up the list.

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With their 34-28 win over the Washington State Cougars, their third straight one-possession victory, Cal climbs to 22nd in the Amway Coaches’ Poll, and 23rd in the Associated Press Top-25. They were placed at 24th on each list last week. The Bears last found themselves ranked nationally in 2010, but the last time they were ranked in the AP Top-25 was 2009, when they began the season 12th, and were as high as sixth before ultimately falling out of the top-25 altogether by the end of the year.

Cal is 5-0 for the first time since 2007, but the Bears will hope to finish this campaign much stronger. In 2007, they lost six of their last seven regular season games before beating Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl. Finishing strong won’t be easy, as the Bears face a gauntlet of ranked teams in the next three weeks. The Bears play on the road for the next two games, against fifth-ranked Utah and 20th-ranked UCLA. After that, they welcome number-17 USC to Kabam Field.

Quarterback Jared Goff led the Bears’ offense against the Cougars, as he tallied season highs in completions (33), pass attempts (45), yards (390), and touchdowns (four). His first touchdown marked the 65th of his college career, taking sole possession of the school record from Kyle Boller.

As a result, he continued his personal climb in the Heisman Memorial Trophy watch. In the latest edition of Paul Myerberg of USA Today’s weekly Heisman Hot List, Goff jumped up to third after being ranked fourth on the previous list.  LSU running back Leonard Fournette, coming off his third straight 200-yard rushing game, tops Myerberg’s rankings, while TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is second.

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Goff has the numbers to back up his candidacy. His 15 touchdown throws are tied for third in the nation, and tied for the most in the Pac-12. His 1,630 yards are seventh in the nation, and the most in the Pac-12. His 170.5 passer rating is seventh in the nation, and second-highest in the Pac-12. The biggest knock on Goff so far are his four interceptions through five games, which is already more than halfway to his total of seven from last year.

If Goff can maintain his place in the Heisman watch, he’ll become the first Golden Bears to crack the top-10 in voting since 2004, when both running back J.J. Arrington (eighth) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (ninth) were recognized. If Goff can keep in the top five, he’ll be the first Bear since running back Chuck Muncie finished second all the way back in 1975.

The season gets no easier for Cal, as even after their stretch of three straight ranked foes, they have to take on the Oregon Ducks, an opponent they haven’t beaten since 2008. The Ducks are looking much more vulnerable this year than in those past, but Cal still has a tall task in defeating them. These next four games will prove if the Bears are for real as a ranked team, and if Goff is a legitimate Heisman contender.

Next: Bears Sneak Away Again to Move to 5-0