Nov. 16, 2003
Game No. 13: California Golden Bears (6-6, 4-3 in Pac-10) at Stanford Cardinal (4-5, 2-5 in Pac-10)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 22, 2003, Stanford Stadium (85,500, Natural Grass), Stanford, CA
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m.
Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Lee Grosscup, Roxy Bernstein
Television: KGO (Channel 7) with Larry Beil, Martin Wyatt, Mike Pawlawski
A Quick Look at California
California makes the 43-mile drive to Stanford this weekend for the 106th renewal of the Big Game - the ninth most-played rivalry in Division I-A football.
At 6-6 overall, the Golden Bears need a victory Saturday to ensure a winning record and earn the program's first postseason bowl berth since the 1996 Aloha Bowl.
Cal enters the contest full of confidence following the Bears' greatest offensive game in school history. This past Saturday, Cal rang up a school-record 729 yards in routing Washington, 54-7, at Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Sophomore QB Aaron Rodgers completed 20-of-33 passes for a career-high 348 yards and three touchdowns, while Cal's rushers, running without injured starter Adimchinobe Echemandu, scorched the turf for 381 yards on 35 carries - an average of 10.9 yards per attempt.
The victory, which was the Bears' largest in a conference game since beating Washington State, 61-0, in 1922, extended Cal's record to a perfect 6-0 this season when scoring at least 30 points in a game. During head coach Jeff Tedford's two-year tenure in Berkeley, the Bears are 12-2 when they reach the 30-point plateau, including last season's 30-7 triumph over Stanford.
For the season, Rodgers is completing 58.5 percent of his attempts with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions (just one in his past five games). And, despite not earning his first start until Cal's fifth game of the year, his 2,150 passing yards place him 15th on the school's all-time single-season list.
Junior WR Geoff McArthur has also placed himself firmly in the record book. Now Cal's single-season leader with 1,259 receiving yards, his 69 catches are third-best in Cal annals and six away from tying No. 2 Bobby Shaw (75 catches in 1997).
Defensively, sophomore ROV Donnie McCleskey needs three more tackles to reach 100 on the year to become the first Cal DB ever to reach the century level. He would also become the first 100-tackle performer for Cal since LB Jerrott Willard had 147 in 1993.
Big Game Broadcast Information
In addition to KGO Radio (810 AM) and KGO TV (Channel 7), the Big Game will also be part of ESPN's national pay-per-view service (GamePlan), and will be re-broadcast on Fox Sports Bay Area Nov. 24 at 9:30 a.m. and Nov. 26 at 12 noon.
Stanford owns a 54-40-11 lead in a series that dates back to 1892. Last season, Cal snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Cardinal with a 30-7 victory that featured a Big Game-record 226 rushing yards by Golden Bear tailback Joe Igber. Cal's last win at Stanford Stadium came in 1993 when the Bears prevailed, 46-17, en route to a 9-4 season and a berth in the Alamo Bowl. The rivalry has a history of tight scoring games, with 50 Big Games having been decided by one touchdown or less.
A Quick Look at Stanford
Stanford, which enters Saturday's game with a 4-5 overall record, has owned a pair of two-game winning streaks this season. The Cardinal opened the year by defeating San Jose State (31-10) and BYU (18-14). Following a run of four-straight losses, Stanford rebounded to beat both UCLA (21-14) and Arizona State (38-27). The Cardinal ranks 22nd in the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 113.22 ypg, but it is also surrendering just over 300 ypg through the year (300.9). Offensively, Stanford's young unit features 11 freshmen in the 22-player two-deep. Freshman Trent Edwards (four starts) and senior Chris Lewis (five starts) have split time at quarterback, with both players sporting similar statistics (Edwards: 73-of-160 for 704 yards and 4 TDS; Lewis: 74-of-153 for 849 yards and 5 TDs). Senior WR Luke Powell leads the receiving corps with 36 catches for 411 yards, while junior RB Kenneth Tolon is Stanford's top rusher with 464 yards.
Big Game Week Activities
Day Event Monday Cable Car Rally, Ghirardelli Square , 12 noon Tuesday Campus Kick Off Ralley, Bowles Hall, 9 p.m. Wednesday Guardsman Lunch, Fairmont Hotel, 11:30 a.m. Laugh Your Axe Off, Bears Lair, 8 p.m. Thursday Battle of the Bands, Pier 39, 1 p.m. Friday Bonfire Rally, Greek Theatre, 7 p.m. Saturday Cal-Stanford Men's Water Polo, Stanford, 10 a.m.
Cal Lowers the Boom: Sets School's Total Offense Record (729) in Posting 1st Win (54-7) Over Huskies at Berkeley in 28 Years
In claiming their fifth victory in the last eight games, the surging California Golden Bears set a new school record for total offense in walloping the Washington Huskies, 54-7, in what Jeff Tedford called "our most complete game played this year." In cranking out 729 yards in total offense, the Bears obliterated the old school mark of 670, set against Utah in 1958. What's more, it was Cal's first victory over Washington at Memorial Stadium in 28 years (last win: 27-24 in 1975), and the 47-point margin of victory was the biggest win by a Bear team in a conference game since 1922 (Cal beat Washington State, 61-0, when both teams played in the old Pacific Coast Conference, the forerunner to the Pac-8 and Pac-10 circuits). The 47-point differential also marked Cal's widest margin of victory over Washington since 1921 (72-3).
Bears Eyeing 1st Back-to-Back Winning Seasons in 12 Years, 1st Bowl Berth Since Mariucci's 1996 Aloha Bowl Team
The arrival of Jeff Tedford continues to transform the Cal football program. In his first season at the helm in 2002, Tedford inherited a Golden Bear club that had gone 1-10 the previous season and promptly staged one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in school history in leading Cal to its first winning season (7-5) in nine years. Named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2002, Tedford has now continued his coaching wizardry in his second campaign at Cal. Picked to finish eighth in the conference by Pac-10 media in the pre-season survey, the Bears once again have risen above outside expectations to post a 6-6 overall record and 4-3 mark in the Pac-10. Among their 2003 victims are nationally No. 2 ranked USC, Arizona State and Washington, schools that were selected in that same media poll to finish first through third, respectively, in this year's conference race. Now, the Bears are eyeing the school's first back-to-back winning seasons in 12 years-not since Bruce Snyder's teams finished 7-4-1 in 1990 and 10-2 in 1991-and gunning for Cal's first post-season bowl appearance since Steve Mariucci's 1996 club registered a 6-6 ledger and earned an invitation to the Aloha Bowl. Although the Bears have to prevail over archrival Stanford this weekend to reach their goals, what makes this year's record all the more impressive is the fact that Tedford and his coaching staff lost 23 seniors and 15 starters off the 2002 club.
Tedford Could Become 1st Cal Coach to Win 14 Games in 1st 2 Years at Helm Since Pappy Waldorf Posted 19-2 Mark in '47-48
To further illustrate the impact that Tedford has made on the Cal football scene, consider this: if the Bear coach can lead his squad to its second straight Big Game victory this weekend, he will become the first Cal coach to win 14 games in his first two years at the helm since the legendary Pappy Waldorf chiseled out a 19-2 record in his first two seasons of 1947-48. Tedford, who followed the five-year Tom Holmoe era, which endured a 16-39-1 record, has guided the new, improved Bears to a 13-11 ledger over the past two seasons.
Arrington to the Rescue: Cal Backup Rushes for Career-High 185 Yards vs. Washington, as Echemandu Rests Ankle Sprain
J.J. Arrington, who scored 23 touchdowns and rushed for 769 yards on College of the Canyons' 10-2 team that advanced to the California State Championship Bowl last year, may be one of the best second-string running backs in the nation. He erased any doubts last Saturday, when he averaged 13.2 yards per carry in shredding UW's defense for 185 yards and one touchdown on only 14 attempts as the ailing (ankle sprain) Adimchinobe Echemandu's fill-in. The 5-11, 215-pound Arrington, who also caught one pass for 30 more yards, ripped off runs from scrimmage of 68 and 51 yards against the Huskies in blazing to 157 yards on 10 carries in the first half. In his most extended playing time, the Bear backup has enjoyed rushing days of 185 yards vs. Washington, 114 yards vs. Southern Miss (16 carries) and 92 yards vs. Arizona (11 carries). For the season, Arrington is churning out a remarkable 6.6 yards per carry in netting 538 yards on 82 carries, while catching 14 passes for 121 yards. He's also scored seven touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving). With Echemandu on the sideline, the Bears featured two 100-yard rushers for the second time this season when redshirt freshman Marcus O'Keith joined Arrington in springing loose for 103 yards on 12 carries. And to add further window dressing, walkon tailback Michael Porter added a 51-yard touchdown jaunt with less than three minutes left in the game.
Echemandu Averages 121.5 Rushing Yards in Past 6 Games as Pacific-10's 2nd Leading Ground Gainer With 1,074 Yards
Senior tailback Adimchinobe Echemandu has been perseverance personified, having overcome back-to-back missed seasons due to personal reasons to finally emerge as one of the Pac-10's premier rushers. So, you can expect him back in the starting lineup for this year's Big Game, after sitting out the Washington contest with an ankle sprain which was suffered on Cal's final offensive play at Oregon. Averaging 5.1 yards per carry this year, Echemandu is the eighth player in Cal history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The Nigeria native has chalked up 1,074 yards and 11 touchdowns on 209 carries through 11 games this season, already ranking No. 5 on Cal's all-time single season rushing list. If he hits his season average this Saturday against Stanford, he will vault into third place on the school's season chart, passing the legendary Jackie Jensen, who rushed for 1,080 yards and averaged 7.3 yards per carry in 1948, and last year's sensation, Joe Igber, who sliced up 2002 defenses for 1,130 yards. Echemandu's 97.6 yards-per-game average ranks second in the Pac-10 behind Oregon State's Steven Jackson, who's out of sight at 126.6 ypg. Buoyed by a career-high 201 yards (30 carries) and three touchdowns on the ground against Arizona Oct. 25 and a 128-yard, two-TD performance in Tempe Nov. 1, the 225-pound senior has averaged a jaw-dropping 121.5 rushing yards per game over his last six appearances.
Four of California's Six Victories Have Been Blowouts
While California owns a .500 record, the Bears have scored 101 more points than their opposition this year. That averages out to Cal outscoring its foes by 8.4 points per game (31.4 to 23.0). The primary reason for that anomoly is simply this: four of Cal's six wins this year have been of the blowout variety. The Bears' first win of the season was a 34-2 thumping of Southern Miss, while they've throttled Pac-10 opponents Arizona (42-14), Arizona State (51-23) and Washington (54-7) by margins of 28, 28 and 47 points in three of the past four weeks.
King McArthur! Cal Wideout Breaks School Season Receiving Yardage Mark With 180-Yard Explosion Against Huskies
Emerging as one of the nation's leading receivers this year, junior wide receiver Geoff McArthur has now made Cal football history. On the game's very first play from scrimmage last Saturday, McArthur hooked up with sophomore quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a 79-yard touchdown pass play. It was the longest Cal offensive play of the season, and it vaulted McArthur past both Bobby Shaw (1093, 1997) and Dameane Douglas (1150, 1998) in becoming the school's record-holder for most receiving yards in a single season. The swift and physical receiver ravaged the Huskies for 180 yards on six receptions on the afternoon, as his season totals soared to 69 catches for 1,259 yards and eight touchdowns. His 1,259 receiving yards also rank second behind Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald (1,467) among all NCAA Division 1-A players. What's more, his 180 yards on Saturday makes him the first receiver in Cal football history to post four 150-yard games in the same season (Shaw registered three in 1997). Those numbers translate into some impressive averages of 104.9 yards (2nd Pac-10, 6th NCAA), 5.75 receptions (5th Pac-10, 34th NCAA) and 18.2 yards per catch (2nd Pac-10). His 180 yards vs. Washington was the eighth-greatest receiving yardage day ever by a Cal player. Prior to Saturday's heroics, McArthur had also averaged 40.0 yards per grab in snaring four passes for 160 yards at Arizona State and caught a career-high 10 passes for 155 yards at Illinois-the most catches by a Cal receiver since Douglas snared 13 vs. Stanford in 1998. And in the nationally-televised season opener, he tracked down eight balls for 169 yards at Kansas State (including a 65-yard TD grab)., His 169-yard performance vs. K-State was the most receiving yards by a Cal player in six years. Now atop the receiving yardage list, McArthur can now more into second place on the school's season reception chart with seven more catches this weekend, which would leap-frog Bobby Shaw (75 in 1997).
Rodgers Zeroing in on School's Season Mark for Lowest INT Rate; Also Ranks 7th All-Time on Cal's Season Pass Efficiency List
Cal's sophomore quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has started the last eight games in his first season of major college football, continues to experience personal growth as the Bears' promising young field general. Last weekend, he completed 20-of-33 passes for a career-high 348 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in Cal's 54-7 rout. In three of the last four weeks, he has engineered the three widest-margin Pac-10 victories by a Golden Bear team in the past 11 years, leading his club to cakewalks of 42-14 over Arizona, 51-23 over Arizona State and 54-7 over Washington. While Rodgers has posted a respectable .585 completion percentage (162-of-277) for 2,150 yards, 14 TDs and four interceptions in 11 games this season, his accuracy has actually been much better. If you subtract his nightmarish performance in the 35-21 loss vs. Oregon State Oct. 4-when he was held to 52 yards on 9-of-34 passing (.265)-the Butte College transfer has completed a more robust .630 percentage (153-243) for 2,098 yards in his other 10 games of 2003. Dating back to last season at Butte College (28 TDs, 4 INTs), Rodgers has thrown 42 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions combined over the past two years. Roberts' 1.44 season interception rate in 2003 (4 INTs, 277 att.) is ahead of Cal's all-time season record of 1.69% by Gary Graumann (2 in 118 att.) in 1977. What's more, the rookie Rodgers enters the Big Game ranked seventh on Cal's single season list for best pass efficiency rating, with the fewest interceptions (four) of any of the Top 10 leaders.
Ever-Improving Cal Defense Has Developed into One of Pac-10's Better Units in Allowing 17.6 PPG, 318.4 YPG in Last 5 Games
Still a work in progress, California's defense continues to show signs of both growth and inexperience. Featuring nine new starters from last year's unit, the Golden Bears have weathered a choppy early season to become one of the Pac-10's better defenses down the stretch. While they have allowed 379.4 yards (6th, Pac-10) and 23.0 points (5th, Pac-10) per outing, the Bears' "D" has performed relatively well in nine of its 12 games this year. Cal spun a defensive shutout (34-2) against Southern Miss, and held Colorado State, Illinois, Arizona State and Oregon-all potentially explosive clubs-to 23, 24, 23 and 21 points, respectively. Against the Los Angeles schools, Cal limited USC to 24 points in regulation--some 15 points below its league-leading 39.7 ppg average entering the game--and held UCLA to 228 total yards and 23 points. They also limited Arizona to 14 points, and last week caused three turnovers in harnessing Cody Pickett, Reggie Williams & Co. to only 293 yards and a season-low seven points.
This Weekend's Key Matchup: California's No. 2 Ground Game vs. Stanford's No. 6 Rush Defense
One of the pivotal areas of this year's Big Game figures to be Cal's high-octane ground attack vs. Stanford's rush defense that allows 113.2 yards per game to rank sixth in the Pac-10 and 22nd nationally. Led by the electric Echemandu, the Bears are churning out 170.5 rushing yards per outing to rank second in the conference, and have registered four ground games over 200 yards this year-Washington (381 yds., 35 att.), Arizona (327 yds., 59 att.), Southern Mississippi (260 yds., 48 att.) and Arizona State (232 yds., 45 att.). An interesting side note to this rushing matchup: the last two Cal wins in the Big Game have featured Bear backs who rushed for more than 200 yards. Tyrone Edwards slashed his way to 205 yards on 24 carries in a 24-23 win over Stanford at Memorial Stadium in 1994, while Joe Igber ripped off a Big Game record 226 yards on 26 attempts in fueling Cal's 30-7 victory last year in Berkeley. In a crowning performance, Igber uncorked dashes of 55 and 42 yards in the greatest rushing game of his career and the fifth-best rushing effort in Cal football's 121-year history.
The See of Cortez: Cal's Unsung Offensive Coordinator Shares Tedford's Vision for Wide-Open Football
Perhaps the most unsung contributor to Cal's high-powered offense is no other than the Bears' second-year offensive coordinator George Cortez. Despite calling the majority of offensive plays this year, the unassuming Cortez works somewhat in the shadow of the high-profile Tedford. But it should be noted that Cal's current offensive production (31.4 ppg, 416.5 ypg) follows a trend that Cortez has created throughout his 27 years of coaching. In his initial season in Berkeley, Cal averaged 35.6 points per game to rank 10th in the NCAA and second in the Pac-10 behind USC. And prior to joining the Bears' staff, he served as offensive coordinator for the 2001 Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and was the man credited with developing the talents of Jeff Garcia and other successful CFL quarterbacks. He was the mastermind behind some of the CFL's most prolific offenses during his four years at Calgary. In 2001, the Stampeders led the league in eight offensive categories. A year earlier, Cortez produced the CFL's Most Outstanding Player in QB Dave Dickenson, who guided an offense that rankedf first or second in seven league offensive categories. His 2003 Golden Bears have averaged 41.0 points and 491.0 yards per game over their last four outings, including offensive eruptions of 54 points vs. Washington, 51 at Arizona State and 42 vs. Arizona.
With 47 yards on Saturday, Cal will set a new school record for total offense in a season. The Bears have 4,998 yards in offense, with the current mark being 5,044, established by the 1975 team that earned a share of the Pac-8 title and featured Joe Roth and Chuck Muncie....The Bears averaged 10.6 yards per offensive play (69 for 729 yards) against Washington last week....Rodgers' 79-yard TD pass to McArthur on Cal's first play from scrimmage Saturday was Cal's longest play of the year (previous long: 65-yard TD pass from QB Reggie Robertson to McArthur vs. Kansas State Aug. 23), and Cal's longest completion in any game since Kyle Boller threw an 81-yard pass to Derek Swafford vs. Oregon State on Nov. 4, 2000. The 79-yarder vs. the Huskies also tied for the seventh-longest pass play in school history, and Cal's quickest score in a game (14:42 left in 1st quarter) since the Bears scored a TD with 14:43 on the clock vs. San Jose State on Oct. 1, 1994....Arrington's 185 rushing yards and McArthur's 180 receiving yards mark the second time this season that Cal has had a receiver and rusher both tally 100-plus yards in a game (Echemandu rushed for 128 and McArthur rang up 160 at Arizona State)....With Echemandu and McArthur becoming a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver, respectively, this year, it marks only the second time that has happened in school history. The first time occurred in 1992, when TB Russell White (1,069) and WR Sean Dawkins (1,070) turned the trick....Two consensus members of the All-Old Blues Team are Col. Charles Travers and Warren Spieker, who will be attending their 81st and 74th Big Games, respectively, this Saturday at Stanford Stadium. Both served as Cal's honorary captains at last year's Big Game in Berkeley....Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 34-14 record since the start of the 2000 season, as Oregon reeled off 11-1 and 10-2 marks in 2000 and '01 with Tedford serving as offensive coordinator, while Cal posted a 7-5 record in '02 and are 6-6 this year....Cal opponents have returned only 25-of-54 punts this year for a scant 5.2-yard average and a long of only 17 yards...The Bears have tallied 28 points or more in 16 of the last 24 games under Tedford; prior to Tedford taking over the program last year, the Bears had reached the 28-point plateau only 10 times in their previous 48 contests...Under Tedford, Cal had scored 20 points or more in 13 consecutive games for the first time in school history before Oregon snapped the streak by limiting the Bears to 17 points two weeks ago...When Aaron Rodgers was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 3, it marked the third time a Cal offensive player has been bestowed the honor this season. Adimchinobe Echemandu also was named conference offensive player of the week on Aug. 30 and Sept. 27. No other Pac-10 school has landed three offensive players of the week....Fullback Chris Manderino's 15-yard rush in the third quarter of the Washington game was the longest of his career.