Nov. 21, 2004
Game No. 3: California Golden Bears (9-1, 7-1 Pac-10)
at Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (5-4, 4-3 Conference USA)
Date:Saturday, Dec. 4, M.M. Roberts Stadium
(33,000 - Momentum Turf), Hattiesburg, MS
Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. PT
Radio: KGO Radio (810 AM) with Joe Starkey, Mike Pawlawski,
Roxy Bernstein and Lee Grosscup
Television: ESPN with Mark Jones, Bob Davie and Holly Rowe
This Week's Game
California (#4 Associated Press/#4 ESPN/USA Today) makes its final push for a BCS bowl in the Golden Bears' regular-season finale at Southern Miss Saturday, Dec. 4 - a game that was postponed from its original Sept. 16 date due to Hurricane Ivan.
At 9-1 overall and 7-1 in the Pac-10, Cal is in the midst of its most successful campaign in more than 50 years. Among the superlatives to date: most conference wins since 1949 (7-0), highest national ranking since 1952 (4th in AP poll) and first undefeated home record since 1950 (6-0-1). With a victory over Southern Miss, the Bears would also post their highest regular-season win total since the 1949 squad, when the legendary Pappy Waldorf guided his troops to a 10-0 mark before falling to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Current head coach Jeff Tedford has led Cal to three consecutive winning years for the first time since 1950-52, and his .667 winning percentage (24-12) rates as the best in Berkeley since the Waldorf era (67-32-4, .670, 1947-56).
This fall, the Bears feature a remarkably balanced unit that is the only school in the country to rank among the nation's Top 5 in both scoring offense (5th, 38.40 ppg) and defense (T3rd, 13.1 ppg). Cal has registered at least 40 points six times in 10 games so far, while the defense has pitched a pair of shutouts and held two other opponents to a touchdown or less.
Senior TB J.J. Arrington headlines a rushing attack that averages 253.7 ypg - the highest at the school in 52 years (317 ypg in 1952). Now No. 3 in NCAA Division I-A at 158.4 ypg, he is the only player in the nation to rush for at least 100 yards in every game he has played this season. In addition, with his 169-yard performance vs. Stanford, Arrington broke Chuck Muncie's 1975 school rushing record of 1,460 yards. He enters the Southern Miss contest with 1,584 yards, and he needs 112 yards to record the best yards-per-game average in the Pac-10 since USC's Marcus Allen in 1981 (212.9 ypg).
Through the air, junior QB Aaron Rodgers leads the Pac-10 in passing efficiency at 164.00, completing 69.1 percent of his throws with 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions. His favorite target - senior WR Geoff McArthur - grabbed five balls vs. Stanford to give him 196 career catches, eclipsing Dameane Douglas's Cal mark of 195 receptions set from 1995-98.
On defense, senior DE Ryan Riddle bagged two more sacks in the Big Game to give him 12.5 this season, one sack shy of the Cal record of 13.5 set by Andre Carter in 2000. As a group, the Bears are fourth nationally in rushing defense, allowing 89.00 ypg and 11th in the country in total D (292.70 ypg).
Cal-Southern Miss Series
The Bears won the lone meeting between the two schools, defeating the Golden Eagles, 34-2, on Aug. 30, 2003. After spotting Southern Miss a 2-0 lead, Cal roared back with 20 points in the second quarter. Tailback Adimchinobe Echemandu rumbling for 127 yards and tailback J.J. Arrington added 114 yards on 16 carries.
A Quick Look at Southern Miss
Southern Miss opened the 2004 season 5-1, earning a No. 21 ranking in both the Oct. 31 Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. But the Golden Eagles, who host Alabama-Birmingham this Saturday, have lost their last three games, including a 42-17 setback at TCU Nov. 20. Southern Miss' strength lies on the defensive side of the ball, where the Golden Eagles lead Conference USA in passing efficiency defense (117.66) and rate third in the league in total D, allowing 337.33 ypg. All-American LB Michael Boley paces the squad with 104 tackles, including 12 for loss and five sacks. Offensively, QB Dustin Almond has completed 50.5 percent of his attempts for 1,168 yards and eight scores, while RB Anthony Harris averages 60.9 ypg on the ground.
Jeff Tedford, California (Fresno State '83), who has orchestrated one of the greatest recent turnarounds in college football during his brief tenure in Berkeley, has led Cal to a 24-12 mark. After taking over as the program's 32nd head coach in December 2001, he transformed Cal from a 1-10 team in 2001 to a 7-5 club in `02 and claimed Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. Last fall, Tedford directed the Bears to an 8-6 mark and the school's first bowl win - 52-49 over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl - in 10 years. He began his coaching career in 1989 as an offensive assistant with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. In 1992, he returned to his alma mater, Fresno State, as quarterback coach. A year later, he was elevated to offensive coordinator, a position he held through 1997. Tedford then served four seasons as offensive coordinator at Oregon, helping the Ducks to a combined 38-10 record and a Pac-10 title in 2001. A native of Downey, Calif., Tedford was a record-setting quarterback as a player at Fresno State, graduating with a degree in physical education in 1983.
Jeff Bower, Southern Mississippi (Southern Miss `75) is in his 14th season as head coach of the Golden Eagles and has amassed an 94-64-1 career record. Bower began his affiliation with the Southern Miss program as a quarterback in 1972, and he started his coaching career there in 1976. In 1982, he moved to SMU as quarterbacks coach, and, after coaching at Wake Forest (1987) and acting as offensive coordinator at Southern Miss (1989) and Oklahoma State (1990), he returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1990.
IKON Office Solutions Play of the Week
Each week throughout the 2004 football season, IKON Office Solutions salutes the Golden Bear Play of the Week. Against Stanford, freshman TB Marshawn Lynch broke three tackles during a 55-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Bears a 20-3 lead over the Cardinal.
The Times Player of the Game
Each week throughout the 2004 football season, the Contra Costa Times will recognize the Cal Player of the Game. Against Stanford, senior TB J.J. Arrington rushed 27 times for 169 yards and a touchdown to break Chuck Muncie's Cal season record of 1,460 yards. Arrington now has 1,584 yards this fall.
Golden Bear Notes
No. 4 Bears (9-1) Roar to 1st Perfect Home Season in 55 Years, Can Post Best Record at Cal Since Pappy Waldorf's 1950 Team
From 1-10 in 2001 to 9-1 in 2004. Talk about extreme makovers. By virtue of Saturday's rousing 41-6 conquest of crosstown rival Stanford in the 107th Big Game, the Golden Bears may very well becoming the story of college football this year. Jeff Tedford's high-flying club brings a glittering 9-1 record into its regular-season finale against Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg, Miss., Dec. 4, a makeup game that was originally slated for Sept. 16 before Hurricane Ivan blasted through the Deep South. By beating the Cardinal, the 2004 Bears finished with a 5-0 record at Memorial Stadium, thus becoming the first Cal team to notch an undefeated home season since the 1950 squad went 6-0-1. The last undefeated and untied Cal home campaign came in 1949 (6-0). If Cal can prevail over Southern Miss and boost its overall record to 10-1, the Bears will register their best regular-season record in 54 years. Not since Pappy Waldorf's 1950 club chiseled out a 9-0-1 mark has a Berkeley squad fared better during a regular season. Tedford's Bears have already joined Waldorf's 1952 club in one lofty category: Cal's current No. 4 standing in the Associated Press poll is the highest ranking by a Bear team since that '52 squad coached by Waldorf earned a similar distinction. Entering the Southern Miss clash, Cal is outscoring its opponents by more than three touchdowns per game (25.3 ppg) and outgaining its foes by almost two full lengths of a football field (196.9 ypg).
Propelled by 2nd Straight 100-Yard Games by Arrington & Lynch, Cal Rips Stanford for 307 Rushing Yards in 41-6 Win
Fast becoming the best one-two ground punch in college football, senior J.J. Arrington and true freshman Marshawn Lynch both enjoyed 100-yard rushing days for a second consecutive game in combining for 291 yards in Saturday's 41-6 waltz over Stanford. Arrington bolted for 169 yards and one TD on 27 carries, while Lynch blazed for 122 and a score on only nine attempts, marking the first time in Cal history that two of its players have cleared the 100-yard mark in the same game in back-to-back contests. Arrington--the only NCAA Division I-A player to rush for 100 yards or more in every game this season--and Lynch both netted 121 yards the previous week, a 42-12 waxing of Washington in Seattle Nov. 13. In all, the Bears amassed 307 yards on the ground against Stanford Nov. 10, which marks the fourth time this year that Cal has pierced the 300-yard rushing barrier.
Arrington & Rodgers Leading Candidates for Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Awards as Nation's Top College Football Player
It is rare when a school has someone considered a legitimate candidate for national player of the year honors. And it is doubly rare when a college has two bona fide candidates. So, Cal fans can thank their lucky stars that senior tailback J.J. Arrington and junior quarterback Aaron Rodgers are attending classes and playing football in Berkeley. Arrington, the Pac-10's No. 1 rusher, and Rodgers, the Pac-10's passing efficiency leader, have both been kept on the "short list" for 2004 national player of the year accolades. The golden duo were two of only 15 college players to receive letters traditionally sent out by the Heisman Trophy Committee at this time of the year. And last week, they were named as two of 10 "Players to Watch" for the Walter Camp Foundation National Player of the Year Award.
California Eyes 1st Rose Bowl Berth in 45 Years
It has been 46 long years since the California Golden Bears have made an appearance in the coveted Rose Bowl, but Old Blues are hoping that this may be the season Cal returns to Pasadena. With memories of Joe Kapp's 1959 Rose Bowl team beginning to fade, the Bears surprised college football last year by coming oh-so-close to a return visit. Had it not been for a 23-20 overtime loss at UCLA and an ulcerating 21-17 setback at Oregon--the Bears blew a 17-7 fourth-quarter lead--Cal's 5-3 conference record would have improved to 7-1, sealing the Bears' first trip to the Rose Bowl in more than four decades. While those bitter defeats still serve as a reminder of how close they came to Pasadena, Tedford's club has made the most of its opportunities this fall. Returning 16 starters from last year's 8-6 team that earned the school's first bowl appearance in seven years, California's experience and maturation has enabled the Bears to become Cal's first team to make bowl appearances in back-to-back years since the 1990 (Copper) and 1991 (Citrus) teams. And if the season ended today, Cal would likely be Pasadena-bound. If Cal wins its final game at Southern Miss and USC remains unscathed vs. Notre Dame and UCLA, it's almost a certainty.
Tedford Becomes 1st California Head Coach in 55 Years to Claim 3 Straight Big Game Victories over Stanford
Right or wrong, Cal and Stanford head coaches are judged by their success in Big Games. So far, so good for Cal's third-year head coach Jeff Tedford, as he made it three straight victories in Saturday's 41-6 verdict over the Bears' rival. The 35-point victory is the biggest point differential in the Big Game since Stanford defeated Cal, 41-0, in 1930. It marks the largest Cal victory in a Big Game since a 72-7 triumph over Stanford in 1921. Tedford becomes the first Cal head coach in 55 years to lead his team to three straight Big Game victories. The last Bear coach to orchestrate the feat was the legendary Pappy Waldorf, who directed California to Big Game triumphs in each of his first three seasons at the helm (1947-49). The last time the Cal football team posted three straight wins in the Big Game series was 1958-60, but it came under two different head coaches (Pete Elliott in 1958 and 1959, and Marv Levy in 1960).
With 9 Victories to Date, California is Assured Its 3rd Straight Winning Football Season for 1st Time Since 1952
After wallowing in the Pac-10's lower division for more than a decade, Cal football was in dire need of dynamic leadership following an ulcerating 1-10 season in 2001. The not-so-Golden Bears endured the worst record at the school in 104 years that season and were outscored by their opponents by an average margin of three touchdowns per game. In December of 2001, Jeff Tedford was introduced as Cal's new head coach. Inheriting one of the nation's biggest challenges, the former Oregon offensive coordinator addressed that December press conference by calmly saying, "We plan on having a winning record next season." That 2002 club, comprised of mostly players from the 2001 squad that had gone 0-8 in the Pac-10, proceeded to post a 7-5 record - the school's first winning mark in nine years. Then last fall, the 2002 Pac-10 Coach of the Year took a Cal team with the fewest returning starters (nine) in the nation and molded it into an 8-6 club that tied for third in the conference (5-3) and hung the season's only defeat on co-national champion USC (34-31 in triple OT). The Bears went on to claim back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 12 years and a bowl game victory for the first time in 10 years. Now, 10 games into the 2004 season, Tedford's club has clinched the school's third straight winning campaign, the first time that has been accomplished at Cal in 52 years (Pappy Waldorf's juggernaut teams reeled off six straight winning marks from 1947-52).
Churning Out 489.6 Yards & 38.4 Points Per Outing, Bears Rank
5th in Both Total Offense & Scoring in NCAA Division I-A
Scoring at least 38 points seven times this year--and 11 times in the last 16 games dating back to 2003--California's lethal offense enters the Southern Miss game with some weighty statistics for the season. Nationally, head coach Jeff Tedford's offense ranks fourth in passing efficiency (170.63), fifth in both total offense (489.6 ypg) and scoring (38.4 ppg), and seventh in NCAA rushing (253.7 ypg). The Bears' 489.6 yards-per-game average is 31.1 yards above the school's all-time single season record of 458.5, set 29 years ago by the Chuck Muncie-led team of 1975. And if Cal were to continue to lead the Pac-10 in scoring, it would mark only the second time in history that a Bear offense led the league in scoring. The first time? That Chuck Muncie team of 1975, which averaged 30.0 points per game. And one final stat to chew on: the 2004 Bears' offense is averaging 7.1 yards per play--a full yard higher than the school's 122-year-old record of 6.1...which was set by Tedford's 2003 club.
Balancing Act: Cal Offense Averages 254 Rushing, 236 Passing
One of the nation's most balanced offenses will be on display Dec. 4 as Cal's multi-pronged attack--the brainchild of head coach Jeff Tedford--spews out a Pac-10 best 253.7 yards per game and 6.0 yards per attempt on the ground, while also averaging 235.9 yards through the air. With the conference's No. 1 rusher J.J. Arrington (158.4 ypg) and true freshman Marshawn Lynch (56.2 ypg, 11th in Pac-10) paving the way with gaudy averages of 6.8 and 9.2 yards per carry, respectively, the Bears appear on their way to repeating as Pac-10 rushing leaders in 2004. And Cal's passing game is also in good hands with junior Aaron Rodgers, who ranks first in the Pac-10 and fifth nationally in passing efficiency (164.0), completing 69.1 percent of his passes (170-of-246) for 2,097 yards, 21 TDs and six INTs.
Dating Back to 2003, California Has Averaged 39.2 Points & 497.8 Yards in Winning 12 of 13 and 14 of its Last 16 Games
Picking up where it left off last season, California has dismantled its nine 2004 victims by a combined 384-131 margin--only adding more juice to the rising reputation of Jeff Tedford and his Bears. One of the hottest teams in college football dating back to last year, Cal has cashed in six straight victories, 12 of its last 13 games and won 14 of its last 16 contests. During that stretch--a period in which they have mowed down the likes of Virginia Tech (52-49), Washington (54-7 and 42-12), Arizona State (51-22 and 27-0), Air Force (56-14) and Arizona (38-0)--the Good News Bears have averaged 39.2 points and 497.8 yards.
Gregory's Unheralded Unit Taking Its Place among NCAA's
Finest; Ranks 3rd in Scoring Defense, 11th in Total Defense
Under coordinator Bob Gregory, the Cal defense emerged last year as one of the Pac-10's finest units by season's end. Featuring nine new starters, that 2003 defense endured early-season growing pains and gained valuable experience that has served this year's unit well. After being gouged for 423.0 yards and 26.9 points per game in their first seven contests last year, the Bears rose up and held opponents to a mere 312.7 yards and 17.3 points per outing in the final six games of the regular season. Nine starters--linemen Lorenzo Alexander and Tosh Lupoi (albeit injured), linebackers Wendell Hunter, Joe Maningo and Francis Blay-Miezah, and defensive backs Donnie McCleskey, Ryan Gutierrez, Harrison Smith and Daymeion Hughes--returned from that 2003 group. Since a wobbly first half at Air Force in the opener, Gregory's defensive unit has shined this year. Allowing only 16 TDs in 10 games, the Bear hitmen have parcelled out 13.1 points and 292.7 yards per game in 2004, which rank third and 11th, respectively, among NCAA Division I-A schools. Listed below is the night-and-day tale of Cal's defense, a unit that has yielded 122.8 less yards and 12.2 less points per game in its last 16 regular-season games dating back to last year, compared to the previous seven regular-season contests (the opening seven games of 2003).
A Far Cry From 2001: Bears Defense Shaves Off 26.1 Points & 153.6 Yards From Per-Game Yields of That 1-10 Team
The arrival of Bob Gregory--and a talented staff that includes Ken Delgado, J.D. Williams and Justin Wilcox--has transformed Cal's defense into one of the nation's finest. To truly appreciate the turnaround, simply peel back the pages of time to the Year 2001. That last Tom Holmoe-coached team was fleeced for 39.2 points and 446.3 yards per game, both low-water marks in the Pac-10 that season. Every year since, the Gregory-directed group has improved its standing in the league. And thus far in 2004, the Cal defense ranks second to No. 1 USC in the Pac-10 in both total defense (292.7 ypg) and scoring defense (13.1 ppg).
Bears Looking to Lead Pac-10 in Rush Defense for 1st Time Since '68, Have Held 7 of Last 9 Foes Under 100 Yards Rushing
Cal's conference-leading rush defense has suffocated 2004 opponents for only 89.0 yards per game (4th in NCAA) and 2.8 yards per carry. Only two of the Bears' last nine opponents have cleared the 100-yard plateau, with California producing stop jobs of 24 vs. Stanford, 37 yards vs. New Mexico State, 41 at USC and 79 vs. UCLA this fall. Cal, which has allowed only 708 yards on 270 carries over the past nine games--an average of 78.7 yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry--is vying to become the first Bear offense to lead the conference in rush defense in 36 years. The 1968 defense, aptly nicknamed the "Bear Minimum," parcelled out 108.1 rushing yards per game. The 2004 Cal defense has not yielded a rushing touchdown in its last seven games and only three ground TDs all season.
Goose Eggs Deluxe: Cal Defense Spins 1st Back-to-Back Shutouts in 36 Years (38-0 at Arizona, 27-0 vs. Arizona State)
The State of Arizona could not muster a single point against Cal's suffocating defense this season. In consecutive weeks, the Bears hung shutout victories on Arizona (38-0) Oct. 23 and Arizona State (27-0) Oct. 30 in Pac-10 games that could go a long way in establishing California as a legitimate national title contender. It marked the first time since 1968 that the Golden Bears blanked back-to-back opponents (10-0 vs. Colorado and 46-0 vs. San Jose State), and was the first time Cal posted consecutive conference shutouts since 1948 (42-0 vs. Oregon State and 21-0 at Washington). The 38-0 whitewash of Arizona was the Bears' first shutout since 1999.
Averaging 253.7 YPG & 6.0 YPC, Bear Running Game Headed Towards 2nd Straight Pacific-10 Rushing Title This Year
While Jeff Tedford has gained a gilded reputation as a quarterback guru--he's recruited and developed five QBs into eventual NFL first-round selections--there is much more to the Cal head coach than a passing fancy. A closer examination reveals that Tedford offenses have featured a balanced attack for many years. In fact, Tedford has been the architect behind offenses that have produced 1,000-yard rushers six times in the past six years at Cal and Oregon. He has featured 1,000-yard backs in each of his three seasons in Berkeley in Joe Igber (2002), Adimchinobe Echemandu (2003) and J.J. Arrington (2004). While the Bears lost Echemandu (7th round pick, Cleveland Browns) from last year's backfield--which averaged 168.3 yards-per-game to become Cal's first team to lead the conference in rushing since Joe Kapp's 1958 club churned out 238.0 ypg en route to the school's last Rose Bowl--the cupboard is far from bare. Besides the shifty Arrington (1,415 yards), the Bears feature at least five other quality tailbacks in their 2004 stable. That fact has been underscored in Cal's first ten 2004 games, as the running game has averaged 6.0 yards per carry and a whopping 253.7 yards per game to lead the Pac-10. With seven rushing touchdowns in the Air Force opener and another four TDs via the ground vs. New Mexico State, the Bears' 26 rushing TDs to date have already surpassed the total rushing TDs scored by Cal in five of the last six seasons (2002: 14; 2000: 12; 1001: eight, 1999: six, 1998: seven). Cal rushed for a Pac-10 best 28 touchdowns last season, while the school record is 34 rushing TDs, set in 1951. Rushing for more than 300 yards in each of their first two games this season, the Bears have now gained 3,665 ground yards over the past 15 games, an average of 244.3 per game over that stretch.
Barrelling for 169 Yards vs. Stanford, Arrington Smashes
Chuck Muncie's 29-Year-old Cal Single Season Rushing Record
The "A-Train" Express continues to break school records and threaten other long-standing marks. Three weeks ago, J.J. Arrington cleared the 1,000-yard mark in his seventh game--the earliest any Cal player has ever reached the coveted rushing milestone. Chuck Muncie vaulted the 1,000-yard barrier in his eighth game in 1975, while no other Cal player has cleared the magic number before their 10th contest. Last week against Stanford, Arrington continued his assault on the Cal record book by obliterating Muncie's school single-season rushing mark of 1,460 yards, a record that had stood for 29 years. Arrington, who zoomed to 169 yards on 27 carries in the Big Game, now averages 158.4 yards per game in rushing for 1,584 yards and 14 touchdowns on 233 carries. His 14th TD came on a nine-yard burst in the fourth quarter against Stanford, tying the Cal single-season record for rushing TDs (also held by Lindsey Chapman in 1993 and Russell White in 1991).
With 10 Straight 100-Yard Games, J.J.'s 158.4 YPG Average Highest in Pac-10 Since Heisman Winner Allen (212.9) in 1981
Could J.J. Arrington be the most productive--and consistent--running back in the nation this year? There is no denying his gargantuan rushing statistics this year for the No. 4 ranked Bears, as he's on pace to rush for 1,742 yards this season, not counting a bowl appearance. What's more, if he were to maintain his 158.4 yards-per-game average, it would be the highest rushing output in the Pac-10 in 23 years. Not since Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen cranked out 212.9 yards per game in 1981, has a conference player matched Arrington's yards-per-game production. With his 169-yard clinic against Stanford Nov. 20, J.J. has now rushed for 100 yards or more in 10 consecutive games, extending his own school record. Muncie held the previous mark with four straight 100-yard rushing games, which he accomplished on two separate occasions during that 1975 season. With one regular season tilt and a bowl game remaining, Arrington can break Allen's all-time Pac-10 standard of 11straight 100-yard games,set during that 1981 Heisman-winning campaign. Arrington's ten 100-yard efforts also breaks Cal's all-time school mark for a season, set by Muncie with nine in that 1975 season. What's more, J.J.'s 12 career 100-yard games rank third on Cal's list.
Arrington Gaining 6.8 Yards Per Carry as NCAA's No. 3 Rusher
with 1,584 Yards and 14 TDs in 1st 10 Games of 2004
Adimchinobe who? Last year, first team All-Pac-10 tailback Adimchinobe Echemandu finished second in the conference rushing race with 1,195 yards and 13 touchdowns. One would think his departure to the NFL this year would have left a large void in the Bears' ground game. Not so. In fact, J.J. Arrington has already surpassed Echemandu's heroics from 2003. Thus far, the 5-11, 210-pound back has flattened Cal's first 10 opponents for 1,583 yards and 14 touchdowns on only 233 carries, including breathtaking runs of 89 (at Air Force) and 69 (vs. NMSU) yards. He enters the regular season finale ranked third in the nation in rushing (158.4 ypg), eighth in all-purpose rushing (167.7 ypg) and stands 23rd in scoring (8.4 ppg). He bolted for 181 yards and three TDs on 16 carries at Air Force Sept. 4--the second most rushing yards in a season opener in Cal history--and for encore performances, has jetted for 177 yards and three TDs vs. New Mexico State, 108 yards at Oregon State, 112 yards at USC (the first back to rush for 100 vs. the Trojans in 14 games), 205 and two TDs vs. UCLA, 135 at Arizona, 188 vs. both Arizona State and Oregon, 122 at Washington and 169 vs. Stanford. His 6.8 yards-per-carry average leads the Pac-10 and ranks first nationally among the Top 45 rushers. J.J. (which, incidentally, stands for Jonathan Jerome) leads the conference's No. 2 rusher, Oregon's Terence Whitehead (104.0 ypg) by 54.4 yards per game.
Needing 416 Yards in Final 2 Games, J.J. Can Join Heisman Winners Allen & White As 3rd 2,000 Rusher in Pac-10 History
Including the still-to-be-determined bowl game, Arrington has two games remaining to register 416 yards and become only the third player in Pac-10 history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. By increasing his yards-per-game clip to 208.0 over the final two games--and remember, he's already spewed out games of 205, 188 and 188 and 181 this year--he could join Heisman Trophy winners Marcus Allen (2,427 in 1981) and Charles White (2,050 in 1979) of USC as the conference's only three two-grand men. Now perched at No. 10 on the Pac-10 all-time single-season rushing list, Arrington can climb four places into sixth among conference leaders by merely hitting his current 158.4 yard-per-game average at Southern Miss.
Joining Elite 2,000-Yard Club, J.J. Also Climbing Cal's Career Rushing Ladder, Currently Ranks 8th With 2,181 Yards
Despite an abbreviated Cal career--he transferred from College of the Canyons JC last year--J.J. Arrington has wasted little time in soaring into the Golden Bears' Career Top 10 Rushing List. With almost no fanfare, he has become the eighth player in school history to rush for 2,000 in a career this year. With 2,181 yards to date, he can move up to sixth place on the school's career list by cranking out his 158 ypg average at Southern Miss.
Arrington Will Become 5th Bear to Win Conference Rushing Title, 1st Since Irrepressible Joe Kapp in 1958
When senior tailback J.J. Arrington is officially crowned the Pac-10 rushing champion this season, it will mark the sixth time a Cal player has claimed the league rushing title. Amazingly, it will be the first time a Cal player has claimed the title in 46 years--not since quarterback Joe Kapp rushed for 616 yards to pace the conference in 1958, which was the last season the Golden Bears went to the Rose Bowl.
Arrington Now Owns 6 of Top 26 Rushing Efforts in Cal History, 1st Bear to Run for 3 TDs in Back-to-Back Games Since 1993
Although he's only played in 23 games and made 12 starts in his brief Cal career, J.J. Arrington certainly has made his mark. He's already rushed for 100 yards or more 12 times in his career (third most in Cal history), and owns a record six of the Top 26 all-time single game rushing efforts in Golden Bear history. Arrington, who transferred to Cal from College of the Canyons in Southern California last year, has been the author of rushing outbursts of 205 (tied for 9th, vs. UCLA), 188 twice (16th vs. Arizona State and Oregon), 185 (18th, vs. Washington, 2003), 181 (24th, at Air Force, 2004) and 177 (26th, vs. New Mexico State, 2004) yards. His 188-yard outburst vs. Oregon Nov. 6 marked the fifth time this year he has rushed for at least 175 yards, most in school history for a single season. Arrington's career total of six contests with 175 yards or more tops the previous Cal record of four, set by Russell White (1990-92). And by rushing for three touchdowns in each of his first two 2004 contests, J.J. also became the first Bear to accomplish that feat in back-to-back games since Lindsey Chapman turned the trick during the 1993 season. Interestingly, in his last 11 starts at tailback, Arrington is averaging 160.8 yards per carry in gaining a robust 1,769 yards on 247 carries, and scored 15 touchdowns. Those starts occurred against Washington (54-7) last year, plus all 10 games this season, contests in which Cal has outscored its opponents by a whopping 439-138 count. And of those 11 starts, Arrington has smoked opponents for 169 yards or more rushing a remarkable seven times.
With 5 Grabs vs. Stanford, All-American McArthur Now Owns Cal's Career Marks for Both Receptions (196) & Yards (3,043)
While his overall numbers may not match last year's storybook 85-catch, 1,504-yard season, All-American Geoff McArthur continues to play a vital role in Cal's football success. In the past five weeks, he has broken the school's career record for receiving yards and receptions. Rebounding from an abdominal strain in the early season that has impacted his 2004 numbers, McArthur has looked like his old self in the past seven games. He's snared 44 passes for 643 yards and five TDs during that period, averaging 6.3 receptions and 91.9 yards per contest. The Bear senior made school history last month in Arizona, as his six-catch, 94-yard effort propelled him past Bobby Shaw (2,731, 1994-97) to claim Cal's all-time receiving yardage record. Then in this year's Big Game Nov. 20, he chased down five passes for 47 yards, including a three-yard pass from backup QB Reggie Robertson in the fourth quarter that vaulted him past Dameane Douglas (195, 1995-98) into sole possession of first place on Cal's career receptions list. Despite his early physical handicap, he ranks fourth in both yardage (71.7) and receptions (5.1) per game in the Pac-10 this year and has become the school's first 3,000-yard receiver with 196 catches for 3,043 yards.
McArthur Ranks 2nd in 100-Yard Games (10), 4th in TD Receptions (19) among Cal Career Leaders
Besides his No. 1 standing in career receptions and receiving yards among Cal's all-time pass-catchers, Geoff McArthur also ranks highly in other career categories. With his 8-catch, 121-yard display Nov. 6 vs. Oregon, he has now registered ten 100-yard games in his career. That's only one shy of the Cal record of 11, held by Bobby Shaw (1994-97). And his two touchdown catches against the Ducks inflated his career total to 19, which ranks fourth on the school's all-time list. He needs three more TD receptions to vault Steve Sweeney (1970-72) into third place. The all-time record is 27 by Shaw.
Injuries Test One of Deepest Receiving Corps in Cal History
Position coach, Eric Kiesau, calls them a "special group," a collection of players he might not see again if he "coaches for another 30 years." A close knit unit that hangs together in off hours--they even took a yoga class en masse this summer--this year's Cal wide receiver corps is much more than All-American Geoff McArthur. The unit lost only 17 of 165 receptions (10%) from last year's unit through graduation, and was ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and No. 4 nationally by Athlon Sports in its preseason magazine. A blend of veterans and youth, the group includes five seniors, as well as three redshirt-freshmen, creating a veritable logjam at wideout. However, an injury epidemic has decimated this once stable of pass-catching riches. For the past month, Tedford has been forced to test the depth of this unit, as no less than four of his gifted receivers have endured serious injuries. Chase Lyman is lost for the season with ACL knee surgery suffered in the USC game, while Jonathan Makonnen bruised his liver at Arizona and is still doubtful to return during the regular season. Burl Toler, who started 10 games last year, returned for limited action against Stanford after sitting out the past four games with chronic knee tendinitis. And to create even more hardship, freshman speed-burner Noah Smith underwent an appendectomy two weeks ago, but may return for some duty at Southern Miss.
Lyman Averaged 103.5 Receiving Yards Per Game & NCAA-Leading 29.6 YPC Before Knee Injury vs. USC Ended Season
Saddled with injuries throughout his career, senior wide receiver Chase Lyman had apparently turned over a new leaf in 2004. Finally healthy, Lyman was inserted into the starting lineup for an injured Geoff McArthur in last year's Insight Bowl and he had played like a man possessed after that. He set a Cal bowl game receiving record with five catches for 149 yards and one TD in the Bears' 52-49 win over Virginia Tech, and he has thrived as a starter along side McArthur this season. With his five-catch, 176-yard day at Oregon State--the 176 yards were the 11th most by a Cal player in school history--the receiver entered the USC tilt with 17 passes for 535 yards and six TDs in his last four games dating back to the bowl game (interestingly, Lyman had managed only 526 yards and three TDs on 63 receptions during his Cal career prior to the Insight Bowl). But a hyperextended knee sidelined the Bear wideout for most of the second half at USC. X-rays after the game confirmed that Lyman will be lost for the season. He underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee on Monday, Oct. 11. Until the injury, Lyman ranked first in yards per reception (29.6 yards per grab) and 10th in yards per game (103.5), respectively, among Division I-A receivers.
Every Which Way But...Lose? Cal Dominates the Statistical Battle Only to Fall 9 Yards Short From Upset of No. 1 USC
In a game for the ages, the California Golden Bears came within an eyelash of scoring one of the biggest road victories in the school's 122-year history Oct. 9. But what made the 23-17 loss to nationally No. 1 ranked USC at the Los Angeles Coliseum so disheartening for Cal fans was simply this: the Bears were the runaway winners in the final stat sheet. Cal won virtually every statistical category, outdistancing the Trojans by wide margins in total yards (424 to 205), rushing yards (157 to 41), passing yards (267 to 164), first downs (28 to 12) and time of possession (37:11 to 22:49). Yet, facing a fast-charging Bears' offense at its own nine-yard line with 1:47 left in the game, the USC defense rose to the occasion to snuff out a brilliant Aaron Rodgers-led rally by denying the Bears one final touchdown that would have given Cal one of its greatest wins in school history. The six-point loss halted a six-game winning streak for California, dating back to last year. Continually handed short fields to defend, the Bear defense proved extremely stingy in Los Angeles. They limited the explosive USC offense to 205 totals yards, 12 first downs, 41 rushing yards and a minuscule 1.6 yards-per-carry on the ground. They harnessed Matt Lienart & Co. to 3-for-11 in third-down conversions, and set season highs for sacks (four) and tackles-for-loss yardage (41).
Rodgers' Stock Soars in Last-Second Loss at USC; Cal's Junior QB Sets and Ties NCAA Records for Consecutive Completions
Before a sellout crowd of 92,000 in the L.A. Coliseum, Cal junior quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed his first 23 passes en route to one of the greatest passing exhibitions in Bears' football history. Carving up the Trojans' vaunted defense for 267 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions on 29-of-34 accuracy, Rodgers showed the nation why he's one of the top quarterbacks in NCAA Division I-A football. His 23 consecutive completions tied the single game NCAA record (Tennessee's Tee Martin vs. South Carolina, 1998), while the Cal QB set a NCAA mark for most consecutive completions in a season (Martin, 24 in 1998) with 26, dating back to the Oregon State game Oct. 2. What's more, Rodgers established a new Cal record for completion percentage, as his .853 figure eclipsed the previous best of .852, set by Gale Gilbert (23-of-27) against Oregon State in 1983. Remarkably, Rodgers entered that fateful first-and-goal at the nine yard-line in the game's final two minutes, having completed 29 of 31 attempts with both incompletions resulting in intentional throw-aways by the Bears' quarterback.
In Less Than 2 Seasons, Rodgers Already Ranks Among Golden Bears' Top 10 in Both Career Passing and Total Offense
Despite starting only 20 games and playing in 23 contests in his brief Cal tenure, Rodgers is already perched among Cal's career Top 10 in both career total offense and passing yards. He currently sits in seventh place on the school's career total offense chart with 5,297 yards. Rodgers, who needs 492 yards to leapfrog Gale Gilbert (1980-94, 5,788 yards), has already eclipsed such legends as Chuck Muncie (3,205 yards), Russell White (3,381), Joe Roth (3,447), Steve Bartkowski (3,938) and Craig Morton (4,130) in the process. On the career passing ladder, he's perched at No. 9 with exactly 5,000, needing only 41 yards to surpass No. 8 Justin Vedder (1997-98, 5,040 yards) and only 182 to edge ahead of No. 7 Mike Pawlawski (1988-91, 5,181).
Ranking No. 5 Nationally in Pass Efficiency, Rodgers Launches 14 TD Passes During California's Current 6-Game Winning Skein
Complementing a dominant ground game thus far in 2004, Aaron Rodgers has served as a highly-efficient field general for Cal. The junior signal-caller has completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 2,097 yards, while throwing 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. Rodgers, who owns the nation's fifth-best passing efficiency rating (164.0), has thrown 14 TD passes in his last six games. Dating back to last year, he owns a 16-4 career record--a .800 winning percentage--as the Bears' starting quarterback and has connected on 68.8 percent (275-of-400) of his attempts in averaging 230.1 passing yards with 33 TDs and only eight interceptions in his last 15 games. While his 120 passing yards vs. Stanford was his lowest aerial output of the season, Rodgers was his usual efficient self, completing 11-of-14 passses, throwing one TD and no interceptions.
Rodgers' 69.1 Completion Percentage (170-of-246) Threatens Pacific-10 Single-Season Mark of 70.7 by Cal's Rich Campbell
By connecting on 69.1 percent of his passes (170-for-246) thus far in 2004, Rodgers is on pace to challenge the Pacific-10 Conference single-season records for completion percentage. The Pac-10 standard is held by a fellow Golden Bear, Rich Campbell, who completed 70.7 percent of his attempts (193-of-273) in 1980.
Cal QB Also Eyes Pac-10 Career INT Percentage Mark
Aaron Rodgers, benefiting under the tutelage of Jeff Tedford and his QB legacy of developing five previous NFL first-round draft picks, entered this year having been named the preseason 2004 Pac-10 Player of the Year by Athlon Sports. Much of his national respect has come from his reputation for mistake-free football. Dating back to his only season at Butte College (28 TDs, 4 INTs in 2002), Rodgers has thrown 68 touchdown passes and only 15 interceptions combined over the past three years (including 2004). Despite throwing six picks this year--with his interceptions inexplicably coming in pairs on the road (two at Oregon State, Arizona and Washington)--his current career interception percentage is a microscopic 1.85 (11 INT, 595 attempts). That's a figure that is well below the Pac-10 career mark of 2.59 (13 INT, 501 att.) set by USC's Paul McDonald in 1976-79 and the Cal record of 2.74 (26 INTs, 950 att.) by Pat Barnes in 1993-96. The NCAA career record for interception percentage, minimum 1,050 attempts, is 2.12 by Jeff Kingsbury of Texas Tech, who threw 40 picks in 1,883 attempts from 1999-2002. In the category 600-1,049 attempts in a career, the record holder is Billy Volek of Fresno State, who was intercepted 12 times in 934 attempts (1.28%) from 1997-99. And who was Volek's offensive coordinator in 1997? A guy named Tedford.
Marshawn the Magnificent
In limited action, Cal true freshman Marshawn Lynch continues to turn in dazzling performances. Perhaps his best effort of 2004 came in the Bears' 42-12 win at Washington Nov. 13. With the ball in his hands only 13 times during the afternoon, Lynch scored a career-high three touchdowns (on runs of 70 and 32 yards, and a 29-yard reception) and rushed for 121 yards on only nine carries. Add 51 yards on two kickoff returns and the precocious rookie accounted for 201 all-purpose yards as J.J. Arrington's understudy. And to add a little more luster to his remarkable day, Marshawn also completed a 14-yard halfback pass to his cousin, wide receiver Robert Jordan--another true freshman--in the third quarter. Last week against Stanford, he followed that magnificent performance with another gem that included a career-high 122 yards on only nine carries--including an electrifying 55-yard TD run that had 72,981 spectators at Memorial Stadium buzzing in the third quarter of the Big Game--plus a 20-yard halfback TD pass to Burl Toler, one reception for three yards, and two kickoff returns for 40 yards.
Tedford Has Perpetuated Cal's Quarterback Tradition
Since the days of All-American John Meek, who led Cal to an unbeaten season and Rose Bowl title in 1937, the Bears have been a cradle for college quarterbacks. Twelve years later in 1949, Bob Celeri also earned All-American honors after guiding the Bears to a 10-1 mark and Rose Bowl appearance. In the past four decades, Cal has produced an extraordinary list of polished passers. They include such legends as Joe Kapp (1956-58), Craig Morton (1962-64), Steve Bartkowski (1972-74), Pat Barnes (1993-96), Joe Roth (1975-76), Rich Campbell (1977-80), Gale Gilbert (1980-84), Troy Taylor (1986-89), Mike Pawlawski (1988-91) and Pat Barnes (1993-96). Perhaps, the best is yet to come in Berkeley, thanks to the arrival of head coach Jeff Tedford in 2002. Tedford has recruited and/or developed five quarterbacks who have become first-round draft choices in the NFL. As offensive coordinator at Fresno State, he worked his magic with Trent Dilfer (No. 6 pick by Tampa Bay, 1994) and David Carr (No. 1 by Houston, 2002). As offensive coordinator at Oregon, he transformed Akili Smith (No. 3 by Cincinnati, 1999) and Joey Harrington (No. 3 by Detroit, 2002) into college superstars. And in 2002 at Cal, he inherited senior Kyle Boller, who after three previous seasons of frustration, blossomed into perhaps the nation's most improved quarterback. Boller, who later would become a first-round draft choice of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, finished his Cal career ranked first in TD passes (64) and second all-time in passing yards (7,980) in school history. Now, the latest big-time QB to fall off the Tedford assembly line is Aaron Rodgers, now one of the nation's top collegiate passers and field generals.
Bears' High-Octane Offense Features Some of Nation's Best
Seven starters, including perhaps the nation's premier pass-catch tandem in quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Geoff McArthur, return on a Cal high-octane offense that set school single-season records for total offense (6,061 yards), passing yards (3,705), first downs (327) and pass completions (278) last year. Five of Cal's returning starters on offense entered 2004 on at least one national "watch list."
Player Pos. Yr. Watch List Award Category J.J. Arrington TB Sr. Doak Walker Award Nation's Best Running Back Garrett Cross TE Sr. John Mackey Award Nation's Best Tight End Geoff McArthur WR Sr. Walter Camp Player of the Year Nation's Best Player Maxwell Award Nation's Best Player Marvin Philip C Jr. Rimington Award Nation's Best Center Aaron Rodgers QB Jr. Walter Camp Player of the Year Nation's Best Player Maxwell Award Nation's Best Player Davey O'Brien Award Nation's Best Quarterback
Rimington Award Candidate Philip Anchors Bears' O-Line
One of the anchors of Cal's offensive line is junior Marvin Philip, who appears on the Rimington Award watch list as one of college football's premier centers. Philip, who returned from a two-year Mormon mission last year to reclaim his starting job by midseason, led all Cal linemen in pancake blocks and knockdowns for the 8-6 Bears. Starting the final five games of the 2003 season--a period in which the team etched a 4-1 record and averaged 206 yards rushing per contest--the 6-2, 280-pound veteran bridges the gap between pre-Tedford era and this fall's promising club. After ending his freshman season as the starting center on Cal's 2000 football team that finished 3-8, Philip departed Berkeley for a mission in North Dakota. Two years later, he returned to find a new head coach, a new team attitude that produced a winning season in 2002, and an offensive line that blossomed into one of the Pac-10's best. Arriving back on campus about 25 pounds under his normal playing weight, Philip underwent a demanding strength and conditioning program during the spring of 2002 and returned to his original 280 pounds. His maturity and experience has played a vital role in an offensive line that lost both its starting tackles in All-Pac-10 first teamer Mark Wilson (Washington Redskins, 5th round) and All-Pac-10 honorable mention choice Chris Murphy. Other key returning blockers include fellow starter Ryan O'Callaghan, who has been switched from right guard to right tackle this year, and veteran guards Jonathan Giesel and Aaron Merz.
The Riddler: Pac-10 Sack Leader Ryan Riddle Needs 1 Sack in Cal's Final 2 Games to Tie Andre Carter's Season Record (13.5)
A sleeper choice to earn All-America consideration this year, Cal senior defensive end Ryan Riddle is finishing his final season with a flourish. Corralling Washington's Casey Paus for two sacks and Stanford's T.C. Ostrander for two more over the past two games, Riddle has forged into the Pac-10 lead with 12.5 sacks on the season. He leads a Cal defense that ranks second only to USC in the Pac-10 with 36 sacks (3.6 per game). Based on the NCAA's most recent defensive rankings (Nov. 13), Riddle ranks fourth in sacks and 10th in tackles for loss per game nationally. The 6-3, 250-pound lineman needs only one more sack this season to tie Cal's single season record of 13.5, set by Andre Carter (1st round pick, San Francisco 49ers) in 2000. On the season, "The Riddler" has amassed 39 tackles, including an impressive 17 tackles for losses of 118 yards, and has both forced and recovered fumbles. Riddle, who transferred from El Camino JC in Southern California last year, has bagged 19.0 sacks for the Bears during the past two seasons. That figure ranks him 10th on the school's career list, giving Riddle an outside chance of finishing among Cal's Top 5 career sack men of all time (No. 5 Brandon Whiting has 24.5).
Last Year's 34-2 Win over Southern Miss was Cal's 1st Defensive Shutout Since 1999
In last year's first-ever meeting with Southern Mississippi, the Golden Bears thoroughly muzzled the Golden Eagles' offense, allowing only 277 yards and 16 first downs in registering Cal's first defensive shutout since 1999 (17-0 at UCLA). Southern Miss' only score came on a safety that resulted when Cal punter Lucas Everett dropped a snap in the end zone in the first quarter. In its 2003 home debut, Cal held Southern Mississippi to 65 rushing yards and 1.8 yards-per-carry average. A ferocious and relentless pursuit resulted in seven sacks and 12 tackles for losses of 53 yards by the hometown crew, as there were heroes galore in the Cal lockerroom afterwards. Leading the hit parade were Donnie McCleskey (team-high 14 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 tackles for losses of 19 yards), safety Matt Giordano (8 tackles, 1 TFL), junior defensive end Ryan Riddle (3 sacks for 15 yards in losses), and junior defensive back Mike McGrath (3 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL). McGrath's interception and return to the Southern Miss 36-yard line with 31 seconds left set up a final TD of the first half, which gave Cal a commanding 20-2 at intermission. The two points scored by Southern Miss was the school's lowest offensive output since the Golden Eagles were shut out by Tennessee in 1995.
Cal's seven conference wins are the most by a Bear team since the 1949 club etched a 7-0 mark in the old Pacific Coast Conference...By harnessing Stanford to only two field goals in this year's Big Game, the Cal defense has now held three 2004 opponents without a touchdown. The Bears previously tallied back-to-back shutouts against the Arizona schools. The last time a Cal defense held three foes without a TD was that "Bear Minimum" club in 1968...Besides registering their first perfect home season in 55 years, the Bears extended their home winning streak to seven games dating back to last year--the school's longest home win string since Pappy Waldorf's teams of 1947-50 reeled off 21 straight home victories...Marshawn Lynch became the first true freshman at Cal to rush for 100 yards in back-to-back games since teammate Terrell Williams turned the trick in 2001 (104 at Oregon State and 108 vs. Arizona)...The Bears committed a season-high 12 penalties vs. Stanford...Cal ranks No. 1 in eight of the listed 30 team statistical categories in this week's Pac-10 release: total offense, scoring offense, rushing offense, pass efficiency, first downs, third down conversions, time of possession and red zone defense...The Bears are outscoring their opponents by a 198-37 margin in the second half this year, as Cal's defense has allowed only two touchdowns in the third quarter, where the Bears have an 80-16 edge on the season. Tedford's club out-pointed Stanford 31-3 after intermission in this year's Big Game, which blew open a 10-3 contest...Cal has scored 28 points or more in 26 of 36 games of the Tedford Era; prior to Tedford taking over the program in 2002, the Bears had reached the 28-point plateau only 10 times in their previous 48 contests...Arrington's 6.8 ypc average this season is within range of the Cal single season mark of 7.3, set by Bear legend Jackie Jensen in 1948...Third-string tailback Terrell Williams, a former high school quarterback, has completed four of five passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns on halfback pass plays during his Cal career...The Golden Bears are the Pac-10's most veteran team, leading the circuit in both senior starters (12) as well as seniors on the two-deep (19)...While he'll be hard pressed to match his passing yardage of a year ago--his 2,097 yards are 806 yards shy of last season's 2,903 total--Aaron Rodgers has been much more efficient in throwing touchdown passes in 2004. He's tossed 21 in only 246 attempts this fall, compared to 19 in 349 attempts last year...The Bears are 4-1 away from Memorial Stadium this year, the most road wins by a Cal team since Keith Gilbertson's 1993 club went 4-2...Under head coach Jeff Bower, Southern Miss has become one of NCAA's juggernauts in recent years. The Golden Eagles, who blazed through their league schedule unscathed (8-0) last year, have claimed four titles in the eight-year existence of Conference USA. One of only 10 schools nationally to enter 2004 with 10 straight winning seasons, Southern Mississippi is assured of its seventh post-season bowl appearances in the last eight years by virtue of its current 5-4 record and fourth-place tie (4-3) in Conference USA...During the Bower Era, the Golden Eagles own a 51-12 record at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the Southern Miss campus...Southern Miss this year has installed "Momentum Turf" in M.M. Roberts Stadium, the same artificial turf that Cal installed at Memorial Stadium prior to last season...Joe Maningo suffered a right knee sprain in the first half of the Southern Miss game last year, an injury that forced the Cal linebacker to miss three games and hindered him for the remainder of the season...Cal's defense was particularly stifling in critical situations in last year's matchup, as Southern Mississippi's offense was successful on only three of 15 third-down conversions, and was 0-for-3 in fourth-down tries...The 32-point margin of victory over Southern Miss last year is one of seven victories in the three-year Tedford era that have come by at least a 30-point differential. Four of those seven lopsided triumphs have occurred this autumn: Air Force (56-14), Oregon State (49-7), Arizona (38-0) and Washington (42-12). Interestingly, all four have come on the road....Cal QBs Reggie Robertson and Rodgers combined for only 18 pass attempts against Southern Miss last year, equaling the fewest attempts by a Bear offense in Tedford's three years at the helm until last week's 17-attempt game vs. Stanford...The Golden Bears-Golden Eagle matchup last season marked the first time in Cal's 122-year history that the school had played a team from the state of Mississippi...To say Southern Mississippi's coaching staff knows the "Golden Eagles way" might be an understatement. Including head coach Jeff Bower, there are five members of the coaching staff who are graduates of Southern Miss. Those schooled in Hattiesburg include Bower, Randy Butler (assistant head coach/defensive line), Tyrone Nix (defensive coordinator), Derrick Nix (tight ends and Tyrone's brother) and Lytrel Pollard (outside linebackers/special teams)...A glance at the Golden Eagles' roster reveals no players born west of the state of Texas...Southern Miss opened 2-4 last season, before reeling off six straight victories to finish the regular season at 8-4. The Golden Eagles dropped a 17-0 decision to Utah in the 2003 Liberty Bowl...This year, Bower's club opened 4-0--including road wins at Nebraska, Tulane and South Florida in the first three games--but has gone 1-4 since...This Saturday marks only the fifth time that Cal has played a Conference USA team. The Bears own a 4-0 record vs. the conference, having beaten Houston twice (35-3 at Houston in 1997, 14-10 at Berkeley in 1998) and both Tulane (7-3 at Berkeley in 1960) and Southern Miss once... Among the more famous alumni produced by Southern Mississippi are singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett (whose recently released CD "A License to Chill" has shot to the top of the charts); former San Francisco Giants third baseman Jim Davenport, a member of the original 1958 Giants and celebrating his 40th year with the organization, now a special assistant in player personnel; and Dr. Delores "Dottie" White, a professor at Henderson State University (Ark.) who played baseball in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was featured in the movie, "A League of Their Own."