It took Jared Goff playing masterfully, throwing for 390 yards and 4 TDs, and a defense that forced 4 turnover and recorded 7 sacks for Cal to squeak by with a victory and remain undefeated against Washington State. This is Cal’s 3rd straight game where they won by 6 points or less. Last week Cal defeated the Pac-12’s other Washington team by 6 points, the same margin of victory for this week’s narrow victory against, 34-28.
Whats really interesting about this matchup coming into the game is that both teams run A LOT of plays and pass the ball A LOT. This season Cal has ran an average of 81.4 plays per game and Washington State has ran an average of 77 plays per game this season. Most teams run about 60 to 70 plays per game. WOW. In addition, both teams have pass heavy offenses. Cal’s quarterback, Jared Goff ranks 5th and Washington State’s quarterback, Luke Falk, ranks 12th in passing yards this season amongst Power 5 conference Quarterbacks.
The game began surprisingly slowly; there was no score for almost 10 minutes until Washington State scored a touchdown. Cal passed their way towards their first touchdown 3 minutes later, almost concluding the 1st quarter. Opening the 2nd quarter with 14 unanswered points, Washington State
Cal scored just before the half ended, but the kicker missed the extra point. What is it with Kickers missing extra points in Cal games? Cal went into halftime down-21 to 13- for the first time all year. The first score of the second half came early in the 3rd quarter, when Washington State decided to try a fake punt on 4th and 1; however, not only did Cal stop them from getting the first down, Cal forced the punter to fumble and returned it for a 45 yards TD. Perhaps this was the spark Cal’s defense needed because with the exception of a TD midway into the 3rd quarter, a few minutes later, they allowed no other points the rest of the game. While Washington State only scored once after the failed fake punt, Cal scored twice, both times coming in the 3rd quarter. The first time they scored, Cal went for two in an attempt to tie the game, but failed, succeeding on the two point conversion the next time they scored. Both teams were held scoreless in the 4th quarter.
What this game means for Cal:
While Washington State is a Pac-12 opponent, they are not tough competition for a ranked teams lime Cal. Washington State is 3-1 this season with a loss to Portland State (Yikes!). This game was expected to be an easy victory for the Golden Bears, as they were a 2 touchdown favorite to win; however, coming out with a win for Cal turned out to be anything but easy. They were losing throughout the game and if not for late game heroics by Jared Goff, Cal would have lost. Cal will likely drop out of the top 25 but remain in the hunt for a ranking. Cal remains undefeated and which is crucial for their division title push. If Cal can win next week on the road against a tough Utah team, they can prove themselves in the running for the Pac-12 North title.