Cal’s football team could have used a boat to negotiate its first road game of the season Saturday night.
The Bears received a rude introduction to life outside Memorial Stadium, as they couldn’t overcome the elements or No. 2 Oregon in a 55-16 loss at Autzen Stadium in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
The Bears (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) committed turnovers on five of their first six possessions of the game and trailed 27-0 at the end of the first quarter. Starting quarterback Jared Goff lost two fumbles and running backs Brendan Bigelow and Khalfani Muhammad lost one each as heavy rain and wind tormented Cal’s ball security.
“This was a game of attrition in a lot of ways,” Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. “Give Oregon credit. They are a good football team and executed well despite the rain. We had some major struggles with the rain. That’s pretty much the way it went down.”
Redshirt freshman Zach Kline made his college debut, replacing Goff late in the first quarter and completing 18-for-37 passes for 165 yards and his first career touchdown. He completed a 7-yard scoring pass to wide receiver James Grisom with 3:02 remaining.
Bigelow rushed for 61 yards on 18 carries while redshirt freshman Jeffrey Coprich scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter. Daniel Lasco caught five passes for 35 yards.
Stefan McClure broke up three passes to lead Cal’s defensive effort. Deandre Coleman led the Bears with eight tackles.
While the football was bouncing away from the Bears early on, it appeared to bouncing right back to the Ducks. On the game’s second play from scrimmage, Cal nose tackle Viliami Moala forced Oregon running back Byron Marshall into a fumble but it was recovered by Ducks tight end Colt Lyerla. On the very next play, Bears defensive back Damariay Drew forced Marshall into another fumble, but again the Ducks retained possession when it was recovered by defensive lineman Sam Kamp.
Marshall ended up ending the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Goff was sacked and fumbled on Cal’s first possession, and Kamp recovered for the Ducks. Marshall fumbled yet again on the Ducks’ ensuing drive after catching a short pass, but again Oregon kept it when quarterback Marcus Mariota fell on it. The Ducks scored another touchdown on that possession for a 13-0 lead.
The Bears continued their stretch of lost fumbles on each of their next two possessions, and Oregon turned each into touchdowns for a 27-0 lead.
“The second play of the game, they put the ball on the ground and we have three guys right there and they come up with the recovery,” Dykes said. “Then they recover it again. Of course, we put it on the ground four times and lost all four. They put it on the ground six times and lost two. That kind of tells you a little bit of what happened tonight.”
Oregon led 41-3 at halftime.
Cal will return to action next Saturday when it meets Washington State at Memorial Stadium at 1 p.m.
“We have to get better,” Dykes said. “We have to look at ourselves in the mirror, and it starts with me. We have to play better. That’s just where it is. We have to figure out how to get this thing going right.”