Nov. 1, 2002
This Week's Game
Cal returns to action after a much-needed bye week when the Golden Bears travel to Arizona State Saturday, Nov. 9.
With a victory in its final road game of the year, Cal would improve to 3-2 away from home this season, giving the Bears their first winning road mark since also going 3-2 outside Memorial Stadium in 1998. So far in 2002, Cal has defeated a pair of Top 15 teams on the road - No. 15 Michigan State and No. 12 Washington - and will have its hands full with the Sun Devils, who enter their Nov. 2 match-up at Washington State tied for the Pac-10 lead with a 4-0 record and a No. 16 national ranking.
For the Bears to notch their sixth overall triumph of the year, they need to revert to the formula that led to their five wins. In their most recent outing at Oregon State Oct. 26, the Bears lost the turnover battle (-1) and did not lead at the half for the first time all season. Overall, Cal still tops the Pac-10 in turnover margin at +15, recovering a conference-best 15 fumbles, and is led by CB Jemeel Powell's five interceptions.
Offensively, senior QB Kyle Boller, the Bears' all-time leader with 55 touchdown passes, has thrown for 19 scores with just six interceptions. In his fourth year as a starter, he has set personal highs for completions (171), completion percentage (55.2%) and touchdowns. And with 7,281 career passing yards, he needs just 80 more to leap over Pat Barnes (7,360 from 1993-96) for second place on Cal's career list.
Cal -Arizona State Series
After not playing each other in 2001, Cal and Arizona State resume their 27-year-old rivalry this season. ASU holds a 13-9 series edge, including five consecutive wins over the Bears in Tempe. Cal last won at ASU in 1990 when they built a 31-3 lead and had to hold on for a 31-24 decision. In 2000, Cal tailback Joe Igber rushed for 181 yards on only 15 carries, just missing his career high of 182 set against Washington in 1999. However, the Bears could only muster a lone touchdown on the day, as ASU prevailed, 30-10.
A Quick Look at Arizona State
Arizona State, which visits Washington State Saturday, most recently defeated Washington, 27-16, Oct. 26. The Sun Devils, at 4-0, are tied with WSU for first place in the Pac-10. QB Andrew Walter owns a league-leading 153.3 passing efficiency rating with 19 touchdowns. In a 45-42 win at Oregon, he set a Pac-10 single-game record with his 536 yards through the air. The defense is paced by end Terrell Suggs, the national leader in quarterback sacks with 17.5.
One of College Football's Cinderella Stories of '02, California Eyes First Winning Season in Nine Years
Not only has California rebounded dramatically from last year's 1-10 debacle, the Bears have established themselves as a nationally respected program almost overnight. In the Associated Press poll this year, they were ranked 23rd on Sept. 15, received 80 votes-29th most in the nation-Oct. 6, and ranked 30th (26 votes) Oct. 20. To add further credibility, the New York Times' Computer Rankings ranked Cal 12th in the country as the Pac-10's highest-rated school prior to the USC game (Oct. 12). In winning five games this season, California has registered more victories than it had in the previous two years combined (1-10 in '01 and 3-8 in '00). What's more, the Bears have come oh-so-close to being 8-1 through their first nine games. Three of their four losses have come by a combined total of 14 points to three nationally ranked teams that have posted a current aggregate record of 19-5 this year. In the 23-21 setback to Air Force (now 6-2) Sept. 21, a two-point conversion try went awry when a Kyle Boller to Joe Igber pass was batted away at the last second with only 31 seconds left on the clock-a play that probably would have sent the game into overtime if successful. Then a week later, Cal settled for a game-tying field goal (38-38) by Mark Jensen with 7:33 remaining in the game against then-nationally No. 16 ranked Washington State (now 7-1), the Pac-10 pre-season favorite (the Cougars rallied with 10 points down the stretch to avoid a Bear upset). And three Saturdays ago, the Bears bolted out to a 21-3 early advantage over USC (now 6-2), only to lose the lead in the second half before rallying in the late going. Trailing 27-21 with 3:23 left in the game, Cal forced a Trojan fumble and had a chance to go ahead before a Boller interception pass squelched any comeback notions.
Bears Ended 26-Year Washington Hex Earlier This Year, Now Try to Halt 12-Year Win Drought at Tempe
Under the direction of head coach Jeff Tedford, the 2002 Golden Bears squarely have stared history in the face and overcome many previous hurdles. The '02 Bears have beaten two Top 15 teams on the road in the same season for the first time in school history, and last month in Seattle, they applied the breaks to a 19-game losing streak to Washington that had spanned 26 years. This week, Cal journeys to the desert in an attempt to halt another long-running skein against Arizona State. Since the Bears edged them, 31-24, in 1990, the Sun Devils-who own a robust .740 all-time winning percentage at Sun Devil Stadium-have reeled off five straight victories over Cal in Tempe. And those five setbacks have been blowouts, with ASU outscoring California by a combined 189-51 points and the smallest margin of defeat during that stretch being 16 points in 1992 (28-12). Even the Bears' last victory at Sun Devil Stadium wasn't easy, as Cal built a 31-3 third-quarter lead in 1990 only to stave off a furious Arizona State rally to win, 31-24.
Boller Needs Only 80 Yards at Arizona State to Seize 2nd Place on School's Career Passing List
Senior Kyle Boller has ventured where very few Cal quarterbacks have ever gone. Not Craig Morton, not Joe Kapp, not Steve Bartkowski, not Joe Roth. With a 284-yard aerial display in Corvallis last weekend, Boller continued to climb up Cal's career statistical charts. Although his consecutive game TD pass streak was halted at 10 games by Oregon State, his 55 TD strikes are the most in school history and only three away from piercing the Pac-10's Top 10 list (former USC quarterback Rob Johnson is currently 10th with 58). Fast becoming one of the nation's premier quarterbacks, Boller has thrown for a Pac-10 leading 19 touchdowns (tied with ASU's Andrew Walter) this year and has orchestrated upset road wins over two Top 15 opponents-Michigan State (43-22) and Washington (34-27)-in the same season for the first time in school history. His 19 touchdown tosses are also just two shy of tying for second place on Cal's single season list, although he needs 13 TD passes to break the school's all-time record of 31 by Pat Barnes in 1996. Boller continues to zoom up Cal's all-time passing yardage chart, two weeks ago joining the exclusive 7,000-yard club in seizing third-place with his current 7,281 total. Boller, who leap-frogged Rich Campbell (7,174) Oct. 26, needs only 80 more yards to surpass Pat Barnes (7,360, 1993-96) and claim the No. 2 spot on the career list. In 2002, Boller has threaded 55.0% of his attempts (171-311) for 2,116 yards, a career-best 19 touchdowns and only six interceptions through nine games. The Bear signal-caller has also contributed to 23 TDs this year-an average of 2.56 per game-also rushing for three scores and catching a pass for another touchdown. His 15.33 points per game ranks second in the Pac-10 and tied for 10th nationally in Points Responsible For. Some of Boller's success should be credited to Cal's reconstructed offensive line, which has allowed 17 sacks (fourth-lowest in Pac-10) in nine games this year.
Two of Pac-10's Top Scoring Teams Square Off at Sun Devil Stadium This Weekend
On paper, this weekend's Cal-Arizona State clash figures to be a high-scoring affair. The Golden Bears are cranking out 33.4 points per game, which ranks third in the Pac-10 and 21st nationally. The Sun Devils, who have erupted for 65 (Stanford), 46 (Central Florida) and 45 (Oregon) points in games this year, are scoring at a 35.3 ppg clip to rank second to Oregon (37.5 ppg) in the conference and 12th nationally. Since being muzzled for only 10 points in its opener at Nebraska, ASU has averaged 38.5 points per game in the last eight games and has outscored its opponents by a jaw-dropping 308-172 points during that stretch. Cal has already outscored last year's team by 100 points, cashing in 37 touchdowns and 301 points in its first nine games of the season. In comparison, last year's Cal squad tallied 24 TDs and 201 points total over an 11-game schedule and ranked 104th nationally in scoring average (18.3 ppg). In fact, Jeff Tedford's club has rattled off 34 points or more five times this year. A season ago, the Bears didn't score 34 points even once all year (season high: 28 points twice, vs. Washington and at Stanford).
Bears Boast +15 Turnover Margin After 9 Weeks to Rank Fourth Nationally
The Golden Bears, despite allowing 387.9 yards per game to rank ninth in Pac-10 defense, continue to be one of the nation's best in the all-important turnover department. Thus far in 2002, Cal has forced 26 turnovers and committed only 11 for a conference-leading TO margin of +15-the nation's fourth-best figure (+1.67 per game). In fact, that +15 figure is the school's best turnover margin since 1951, when Pappy Waldorf's 8-2 Bears finished with a +21 differential. The Bears lived on the other side of the turnover ledger in 2001, finishing 114th out of 115 Division 1-A schools with a woeful -17 margin. The club's 26 takeaways (4th in NCAA) this fall are already eight more than Cal managed all of last season. Included in that total are 15 fumble recoveries this year-tied for second most in the nation (one behind leader Virginia)-which also is five more than last season's entire output. What's more, Cal has scored no less than 91 points off turnovers this season. The TO wars have been particularly telling in first halves this year, when the bend-but-don't-break Bears have coughed up only four turnovers all year in posting a collective +14 mark during the first 30 minutes of their games. Cal ranks second in the conference in turnovers gained with its 26 total. Who ranks first? The Sun Devils with 28 takeaways.
Divine Intervention: Powell's Next Interception Will Tie Him for 5th Place on Cal's All-Time List
Senior cornerback Jemeel Powell is destined to finish his collegiate career as one of the greatest interception artists in Cal football history. Powell, who ranks second among Pac-10 leaders and 18th nationally with five interceptions (0.56) this year, has made 10 career picks, which ties him for seventh place on the school's all-time list. His next interception will catapult him into a three-way tie for fifth place with Deltha O'Neal and Ron Coccimiglio. Powell has also broken up 11 passes in 2002, giving him 30 for his career to rank second on Cal's all-time list (Chidi Iwuoma leads with 35 passes broken up from 1997-2000).
Igber Continues His Ascent into Cal's Top 10 Lists
Joe Igber was impressive in a losing effort in Cal's last meeting with Arizona State in 2000. He averaged 12.1 yards per carry in squirting loose for 181 yards on 15 attempts at Sun Devil Stadium. By doing so, Igber joined Paul Jones and Russell White as the only Bears to ever rush for 180 yards or more twice in a career (he also churned out 182 vs. Washington as a freshman in '99). Although he has been harnessed to only 133 yards on 45 carries in his last three games against USC (45), UCLA (55) and Oregon State (33), the Nigerian native has rushed for 670 yards on 166 attempts through nine games this year, inching upwards on the Bears' all-time rushing and all-purpose charts. Igber has cranked out eight 100-yard rushing performances in his career-the fourth most in Cal history-trailing only White and Chuck Muncie, who both rushed for 100 yards 15 times, and the late John Olszewski, who accomplished the feat on 10 occasions. Averaging 74.4 ground yards per game this season-the fourth-best figure in the Pac-10 to date-Igber has increased his career rushing total to 2,664 yards. His 670 yards this season eclipses his entire output of last year, when he rushed for only 399 yards on 94 carries before missing the Bears' final four games with a fractured clavicle. He needs 269 yards to surpass No. 3 Paul Jones (2,930). In addition, the diminutive Igber has shot into Cal's career Top 10 in all-purpose yardage with 3,339, the sixth-highest total in school annuals. With 387 more all-purpose yards, he will zip ahead of Jones (3,726, 1975, 1977-79) into No. 5.
Tedford's Club Eyeing One of Biggest Turnarounds Ever
When you finished last season with the worst record (1-10) by a Cal team in 104 years, you know there's only one way to go ... up. But with their impressive 5-4 start, Tedford's Bears have a chance to produce one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in school history. They have already bettered last year's mark by four games, which is the best one-year turnaround at Cal since Keith Gilbertson's 1993 team posted a 9-4 mark following a 4-7 record the following year. The greatest one-year flip by a Cal team came in 1947, when a man named Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf assumed the head coaching reins and promptly led his Golden Bears to a 9-1 record-a six-and-a-half game improvement from the previous season (2-7 in '46 under Frank Wickhorst).
Jensen Emerges as One of Pac-10's Top Kickers
Always a consistent performer, Cal's senior Mark Jensen has emerged as one of the country's most prolific kickers in 2002. The Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week five weeks ago when he reeled off a school-record five field goals in a 23-21 loss to Air Force, the Bears' senior currently ranks fourth in the Pac-10 and 27th nationally in scoring with 77 points (8.56 per game). He has nailed 14 of 18 FG attempts and 35-for-35 in PATs, and has boomed career-best 51-yard (at Michigan State) and 50-yard (at Oregon State) field goals. He is one of only seven kickers in Cal history to convert two field goals from 50 yards or beyond in their career, and is one of only five kickers to accomplish that feat in the same season. Jensen's 40 career FGs also rank fourth all-time at Cal, trailing only Doug Brien (56), Jim Breech (50) and Robbie Keen (47). With his scoring onslaught this year, Jensen has moved into the school's career Top 10 in scoring. His current 214 points rank seventh on the list, with former Heisman Trophy runner-up Chuck Muncie (224 points, 1973-75) his next target.
Led by Special Teams, Bears Uncorking a Bushel of Big Plays This Season
Another contributing factor to Cal's mercurial start has been the big play. In their first nine games, the Bears have unleashed no less than 16 plays that have measured 50 yards and beyond. Special teams have paved the way, churning out significant chunks of yardage with regularity. Cal currently ranks first in kickoff return average (25.0, 9th in the NCAA) and fifth in punt return average (10.8) in the Pac-10. Kick returner LaShawn Ward, who has sprung loose for 56 (at Michigan State) and 55 (at Oregon State) yard returns this year, owns a 28.8-yard average to date (1st in the Pac-10, 6th in the NCAA), while Jemeel Powell-the school's No. 3 all-time punt returner (11.9 avg.)-averages 10.1 yards per punt return (6th in the Pac-10). Ward's 28.8 average ranks fourth in school annals for a single season, trailing only Frank Brunk (29.5 in 1949), Tom Blanchfield (29.4 in '63) and Deltha O'Neal (29.2 in '99). Powell's 90-yard TD punt return in the first quarter at Michigan State Sept. 14 was the longest punt return by a Cal player in 43 years. Meanwhile, Cal's coverage units have been very respectable, limiting their foes to a 17.8-yard kickoff return average (1st in Pac-10) and 10.7 punt return figure. The Bears' kicking game has also been solid, with placekicker Mark Jensen already setting his all-time high for FGs in a season with 14, including the fifth (51) and sixth (50) longest in Cal history.
The One-Year Switcheroo: Cal Changes for the Better in '02
Very few college football programs have undergone such positive one-year transformations the likes of California. After nine games last year, the Bears were saddled with an 0-9 record and were being outdistanced by an average score of 42.9 points to 17.0 points. Nine games into this season, Cal sports its best start (5-4) since 1998 and is outscoring its opponents by a margin 9.8 points (33.4 to 24.6)
Arizona State's Shaun McDonald the Latest in Long Line of Great Receivers Cal has Faced This Year
Sun Devil junior Shaun McDonald is yet another extraordinary wide receiver that Cal must confront during the 2002 season. Thus far this year, the Bears' secondary has been tested by such All-America candidates as Michigan State's Charles Rogers, Washington State's Devard Darling, Washington's Reggie Williams, and USC's Mike Williams. McDonald has been a TD machine for Arizona State, hauling in a Pac-10 leading nine scoring passes this years and 20 for his career. He currently ranks second in the conference behind Arizona's Bobby Wade-another super wideout Cal will face Nov. 16-in both catches (6.88, 55 total) and yardage (117.6, 941 total) per game. McDonald needs six more TD catches to set ASU's career mark, currently held at 25 by Keith Poole and Doug Allen. He also needs only four more catches to surpass the great John Jefferson (1977) for the fourth-most receptions in ASU's single season history. It would be appropriate that Jefferson's name be mentioned this year, as the former consensus All-America and long-time NFL star will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., this December.
Swoboda Tied for First in Receptions, TD Catches among Pac-10 Tight Ends
The Bears' Tom Swoboda, who has snared six or more passes in a game four times this season, plays a key role in Cal's passing offense. He has caught 29 passes for 301 yards and tied for first on the team with five TDs this season. His 29 grabs rank first among Pac-10 tight ends (tied with Washington's Kevin Ware) and are 11 more receptions than the entire tight end corps snagged all last season at Cal. His five TD grabs are tied with Oregon's George Wrighster for most by a conference tight end. And talk about a personal turnaround, Swoboda had caught only a combined eight passes for 89 yards and no TDs during his three previous seasons in Berkeley.
Nine ASU Players Hail from NorCal, including Three from Sacramento's Valley HS
The Arizona State football program certainly has dipped into Northern California to field its 2002 roster, as no less than nine Northern Californians dot the Sun Devils' media guide. Three of those NorCal products-linebacker Ishmael Thrower, who also attended Sacramento City College, center Grayling Love and offensive lineman Zach Krula-graduated from the same high school, Valley High in Sacramento. The others include guards Gino Benedetti (San Francisco, St. Ignatius College Prep), Drew Hodgdon (Palo Alto HS) and Tim Fa'aita (Daly City, Jefferson HS, San Francisco City College), tight end Matt Cooper (Pleasanton, Amador Valley HS), and defensive tackle Shane Jones (Antelope, Center HS, Sacramento City College).
Passing Through the Night: Many ASU & Cal Coaches Have Similar Backgrounds
While none of worked together on the same staffs, several Arizona State and Cal coaches have worked at the same schools in their past. ASU head coach Dick Koetter served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon in 1996-97, the same position that current Cal head coach Jeff Tedford filled from 1998-2001. The Golden Bears' defensive coordinator Bob Gregory, who coached the Ducks' defensive backs from 1998-2000, served last season as defensive coordinator at Boise State-the same school that Koetter held the head coaching post from 1998-2000 before accepting the ASU job last year. Other Cal coaches who joined Oregon's staff just as Koetter left for Boise State include linebacker coach Bob Foster (defensive coordinator at Oregon) and wide receiver coach Eric Kiesau (teamwork coordinator). One current member of the ASU staff, assistant head coach/special teams coach Tom Osorne, did serve three years with Tedford on the Oregon staff as special teams and tight end coach from 1998-2000. And a final twist to this saga of coaches crossing in the night, it should be noted that Sun Devils' cornerbacks coach Ron English, who played strong safety at Cal from 1987-90, coached at San Diego State in 1996-97-a period when Cal defensive line coach Ken Delgado was serving as the Aztecs' D-line coach.
Stephen Jackson's 239-yard rushing effort Oct. 26 for Oregon State was the most by an opposing player in 21 years. USC's Marcus Allen gained 244-yards on 46 carries against Cal in 1981Cal's 13 points scored in Corvallis last week was its lowest output of the season ... Throwing a career-high 52 passes at Oregon State, Boller has now set a Cal all-time mark of 1,190 pass attempts during his four-year tenure in Berkeley ... Bear wideout Jonathan Makonnen's eight receptions against the Beavers are the most by a Cal player this year ... There's a significant difference in age between ASU's and Cal's starting lineups. According to their most recent depth charts, the Sun Devils feature two freshmen and seven sophomores among their 22 starters while the Bears are starting only one freshman and two sophomores. In fact, Cal features 14 seniors among its 22 regulars ... This is Arizona State's final home game of the season, as the Devils finish with three of their last four games on the road ... Cal's Boller (at Washington, 10/5/02) and Arizona State's Andrew Walter (vs. Stanford, 9/28/02) join Oregon State's Derek Anderson (vs. UNLV, 9/14/02) as the only Pac-10 quarterbacks to throw five touchdown passes in a game this year ... While Powell ranks second in the Pac-10 in interceptions, it is Arizona State that leads the conference in team picks with 16. Oregon State is second with 15 INTs, followed by Oregon (14) and Stanford (13). The Bears have corralled 11 interceptions this season ... With Suggs and Banta-Cain on center stage, sacks are sure to play a factor in next Saturday's contest. As teams, the Sun Devils (40) and Bears (27) rank one and three, respectively, in sacks among Pac-10 schools. Perhaps the key matchup is ASU's offensive line vs. Cal's defensive line, as the Sun Devils allow the eighth-most sacks (24) in the league ... While Cal's special teams have been very good in '02, Arizona State's units may be near its equal. As a team, the Sun Devils rank third in both kickoff returns (22.4) and kickoff coverage (18.3), and tied for second in field goals (14, with Cal) among Pac-10 schools. In addition, ASU's Tim Parker leads the circuit in punting (42.4 avg., tied with USC's Tom Malone) and Sun Devil K Mike Barth ranks third in scoring (8.7 ppg) ... Prior to their current five-game losing streak in Tempe, the Bears and Sun Devils had split their previous eight meetings in the desert from 1976-90 ... The all-time ASU-Cal series has been full of lopsided verdicts, as only four of the 22 meetings have been decided by less than a touchdown ... Under the tutelage of Tedford, Boller is completing almost 10% more of his passes this year over his career percentage entering this season. Boller owned a 45.1% figure through his first three years in Berkeley, but this season, he's connecting at a 55.0% clip ... Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 26-7 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 has posted a 5-4 record thus far in '02 ... Coincidence or not? Cal is 4-1 in games that are televised this year, 1-3 when there's no live TV ... Cal has scored on its first possession of the game in six of its nine games this year (4 TDs, 2 FGs). The only times the Bears failed to score on their first possession have been road games at Michigan State, Washington and Oregon State ... Thus far this season (prior to Monday's selections this week), Cal has landed five Pac-10 Players of the Week, tied for second most in the conference. QB Kyle Boller has won the award twice this year, following road upset victories Michigan State and Washington, while K Mark Jensen boomed a school-record five field goals in the Air Force loss to win the award, and PR Jemeel Powell was cited after the Michigan State game for his 90-yard TD punt return. Most recently, LB Tom Canada earned the award vs. UCLA Oct. 19, following his two-sack, two-forced-fumble effort ... Notable Arizona State alumni: the Giants' Barry Bonds, MLB's single season home run king; Warriors' owner Christopher Cohan; baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson; Stephen Knott, former managing partner of Knott's Berry Farm; ABC Monday Night Football broadcaster Al Michaels; Barry Rosenblum, president of Time Warner Cable; and comedian/actor of television's "Just Shoot Me" fame, David Spade.