Sept. 19, 2005
Television: ESPN with Eric Collins (play-by-play), Andre Ware (analyst) and Heather Mitts (Sideline).
Radio: Cal Radio Network (Flagship: KGO AM 810, San Francisco) with Joe Starkey (play-by-play), Troy Taylor (analyst) and Todd McKim (sideline)
Rankings: California is ranked No. 13 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 14 in the USA Today Poll. New Mexico State is not ranked.
This Week's Game:
California returns to the road this week for a Friday night contest at New Mexico State. The game, slated to start at 7 p.m. PT, will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Now 3-0 on the season after last Saturday's 35-20 victory over Illinois, the Golden Bears are seeking to move to 4-0 for the first time since they began the 1996 campaign with five straight wins. Cal is also looking for its 11th consecutive regular-season triumph, a run that began with a 45-28 decision over UCLA last Oct. 16.
Despite a rash of injuries that have affected nearly every position on the team, the Bears have continued to produce on both sides of the ball. Nowhere is Cal's depth more apparent than at tailback where three different players have reached the 100-yard plateau this year. Marshawn Lynch rushed for a career-best 147 yards in the Sacramento State opener. But after he suffered a broken hand midway through the Washington game, Marcus O'Keith picked up the pace and ran for 103 yards on six carries against the Huskies. Then against Illinois, Justin Forsett, in his first career start, broke loose for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Overall, the Bears lead the Pac-10 and rank 11th nationally in rushing offense with an average of 264.0 ypg.
Quarterback Joe Ayoob, who gained his first start at Washington after opening-day starter Nate Longshore broke his ankle vs. Sacramento State, came through with a solid second half (7-for-8, 99 yards, 1 TD) against Illinois after a 1-9 performance before intermission. In his last two games as Cal's signal caller, Ayoob is 25-for-44 for 392 yards with five touchdowns and only one interception.
On defense, the Bears pace the Pac-10 in a pair of categories: pass efficiency defense (104.59) and scoring defense (13.33 ppg). Cal has allowed only 10 second-half points all year, during which the Bears have scored 87 points on their own.
Linebacker Desmond Bishop, a transfer from City College of San Francisco, has paced the Bears in tackles each game, including a best of 11 vs. Illinois, while junior tackle Brandon Mebane owns a team-high three sacks. Junior Tim Mixon gave Cal's special teams a boost against the Illini when he returned a punt 79 yards for a score, giving the Bears a 28-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. For the year, he is averaging 24.7 yards on seven returns, a figure that rates fifth in the country.
A Quick Look at New Mexico State
New Mexcio State is off to an 0-3 start under first-year head coach Hal Mumme. Quarterback Royal Gill has completed 58.3 percent of his pass attempts (60-for-103) for 624 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. Paul Dombrowski has been the primary target with 22 catches for 303 yards, an average of 101.0 ypg receiving. While the Aggies are moving for 259.0 ypg through the air, they average only 27.0 ypg on the ground, although Justine Buries had career-high 115 yards on 20 carries last Saturday at New Mexico. Defensively, linebacker Jimmy Cottrell already has 49 tackles (16.3 per game), including three tackles for loss.
New Mexico State Head Coach Hal Mumme
Hal Mumme (Tarleton State '75) is in his first season as head coach at New Mexico State after being named to the position on Dec. 30, 2004. Prior to accepting his current post, he served as head coach at Southeastern Louisiana (2002-04), helping revive the program after an 18-year absence and leading the Lions to a 12-11 record in two seasons. Mumme also was head coach at Kentucky (1997-2000), Valdosta State (1992-96) and Iowa Wesleyan (1989-91). Now in his 15th season as a head coach, he owns a career record of 94-67-1. In addition, he has served as an assistant on the collegiate level at UTEP (offensive coordinator, 1982-85) and West Texas State (quarterbacks/wide receivers, 1980-81).
Friday Night Live
The California Golden Bears, now 3-0 overall and 1-0 in Pacific-10 play, will work through an abbreviated week as they visit the New Mexico State Aggies for an ESPN Friday-night game (Sept. 23rd). Kickoff is set for 8:05 p.m. Mountain (7:05 Pacific).
California enters the New Mexico State contest ranked in the nation's top 25 polls for the 16th consecutive week. It is the longest such streak for California since the team entered the polls in the middle of the 1949 season and remained there until November of 1952 under the direction of Pappy Waldorf. That streak included 36 straight appearances as a ranked team. California's last appearance as a non-ranked team came Dec. 26, 2003, in the Insight Bowl. The Bears won that game, 52-49.
The Bears enter the New Mexico State game ranked No. 13 in the AP poll and No. 14 in the USA Today coaches poll. Cal began the season No. 19 in the AP poll and No. 20 in the USA Today coaches poll. Last season, Cal reached its highest mark in the polls in 52 years when it climbed to No. 4.
The Good Ol' Days
California is 3-0 on the season and has now reeled off 16 wins in its last 18 games and has won 18 of its last 21 contests. The 16 wins in 18 games represent the best run by the Cal program since the 1949 and 1950 teams combined to win 17 times in 18 games.
Free Through Three
There are 24 teams that enter this weekend with a perfect 3-0 record, including Pac-10 members California, Washington State, Oregon and UCLA (USC is 2-0). There are 34 teams that remain unbeaten this season (including 1-0 LSU). The Big 12 leads the way with nine unbeaten teams, followed by the Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC with five teams each.
California is closing the non-conference portion of its 2005 season with the trip to Las Cruces. The Bears are 2-0 in non-league play this season and 11-5 in non-conference games under Jeff Tedford. The Bears were 3-0 in non-conference play last year with the last regular-season loss outside of Pac-10 play coming in a Sept. 11, 2003, setback against Utah.
For the third straight week, California will be facing a head coach in his first year at a school. Hal Mumme is in his first season at New Mexico State. In 2005, the Bears already have wins over first-year head coaches Tyrone Willingham of Washington and Ron Zook of Illinois. Later in the year, the Bears will face first-year head coach Walt Harris of Stanford.
Against The New Guys
In his three-plus seasons as head coach at Cal, Jeff Tedford is 5-2 against first-year head coaches. The two losses came against UCLA coach Karl Dorrell and Utah's Urban Meyer.
With the victory over Illinois, California improved to 3-0 for the third time in four years under Jeff Tedford. Cal has started a season 3-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1951 and 1952.
Traditionally, California's 3-0 starts have led to successful season. The Bears have opened a season with three straight victories 14 times since World War II and have never finished below .500 after that beginning.