Cal Bears, Jared Goff Down Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl


In the Cal Bears‘ first Bowl game since 2011, and likely Jared Goff‘s last college game, the Bears downed the Air Force Falcons in the Armed Forces Bowl.

If the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl was Jared Goff’s last game as a college quarterback, the prospect certainly went out with a bang. In the school’s first Bowl game since 2011, and the first Bowl game of Goff’s college career, the California Golden Bears defeated the Air Force Falcons, 55-36. With the victory, Cal improves to 11-10-1 in school history in Bowl games. NFL scouts were certainly watching closely, and Goff tore apart the Falcons’ defense while leading the Bears to their eighth win of the season.

There has been plenty of speculation around Goff, and whether the 21-year-old junior quarterback would skip his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. Considered one of the best quarterback prospects in the nation, Goff is a potential first-round draft pick, and could become the face of an NFL franchise that is in need of a quarterback. What those teams saw in the Armed Forces Bowl had to make them smile wide.

The Air Force couldn’t stop the “Bear Raid”, and Goff had a field day. He completed 25 of his 37 pass attempts for 467 yards and six touchdowns, and did not throw an interception. He spread the ball around, hitting nine different receivers for at least one completion. Junior receiver Kenny Lawler, who also has some NFL aspirations, led the team with five receptions, and was the recipient of half of Goff’s six touchdown tosses. Senior Bryce Treggs, who definitely played his last game at Cal, caught four passes for 143 yards, the third-best output of his career, and a touchdown. Another senior, Darius Powe, caught two touchdowns, the first multi-score game of his career.

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Goff, who deservedly earned the Armed Forces Bowl MVP, did just above everything an NFL team would want to see from him. He threw deep passes, most with unbelievable accuracy, hitting receivers in stride more often than not. He threw into tight windows, placing balls where only his receivers could make a catch. He threw with blitzers coming right at him, getting the ball away on time and with perfect placement. This game was like a personal showcase for Goff, and he passed with flying colors.

Like he has been doing through each of his three seasons, Goff broke records on Tuesday. In the first quarter, he broke the school record, which he set in his freshman year, for pass completions, and ended the day with . In the fourth quarter, he the school pass attempt record, which he also set in his freshman year, and finished with . He broke some bigger records, as he bested former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota‘s Pac-12 single-season passing touchdown record, throwing his 43rd touchdown pass of the season late in the third quarter. On the pass before that touchdown, he broke former Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion‘s single-season passing yardage record. He ended the season with 4,714 yards. The 467 yards Goff threw for became a school record for a Bowl game, as did the 55 points the Bears scored.

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After Cal’s final drive of the game, Goff was seen on the sideline, hugging teammates and coaches. That could be seen as just the normal congratulatory embraces from winning a Bowl game, but it can also be seen as a departing gesture from Goff. Announcers Dave Flemming and Mike Bellotti discussed it all day, mentioning how, despite it not being formally announced, it is pretty clear that Goff will be taking the leap this year. If that is true, Goff most certainly went out on a high note.

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In his first season, Goff was thrown into the fire. In 2013 as a freshman, he started every game for the Bears, who won only once in 12 attempts. The next season, the Bears took a step forward, winning five games with Goff’s continued development being the main focal point. This season, with Goff again at the helm, they took yet another step forward, winning eight games plus a Bowl game. Next year, likely without Goff, the Bears will have a tough act to follow. But for now, they can bask in the glow of their best season in seven years.