Oct. 7, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - DeSean Jackson reversed his field, turned the corner and sprinted down a golden corridor stretching to the end zone.
California broke out some garish yellow jerseys for a pivotal game with Oregon, yet the Golden Bears' knack for big plays didn't change a bit.
As for the fashion-conscious Ducks? They simply didn't match.
Jackson caught one of Nate Longshore's three touchdown passes and returned a punt 65 yards for his most electric score yet, leading No. 16 Cal to a 45-24 victory over 11th-ranked Oregon on Saturday night.
The Bears (5-1, 3-0 Pac-10) took control almost from the moment they ran out of the Memorial Stadium tunnel wearing the surprising shirts that looked just like something the inventive Ducks (4-1, 2-1) would wear.
But after Jackson's outstanding punt return put Cal ahead 28-3 in the second quarter, the Bears were perfectly dressed for their fifth straight blowout victory.
"I was following yellow jerseys," said Jackson, who reversed field and slid through several potential tacklers on his third career punt return for a score. "I couldn't even see one Oregon jersey all the way in."
These West Coast powers have similarities ranging from their intertwined coaching staffs to their high-octane offenses, but Cal coach Jeff Tedford easily landed his second victory over former mentor Mike Bellotti in front of a raucous sellout crowd - a rarity at Memorial Stadium, where even the laid-back fans realize something special could be brewing.
Cal's players chose the jerseys to fire up themselves and the crowd. Even Tedford claimed he loved them - and said they might return soon.
"I loved it that we came out with something new that looks good," tailback Justin Forsett said. "We thought we could shock the fans a little bit, especially against the team that has every uniform in the world. That was a great thing for us to show Oregon."
Forsett ran for 163 yards and a touchdown in place of injured Marshawn Lynch for the Bears. Robert Jordan and tight end Craig Stevens also caught TD throws from Longshore, who passed for 189 yards and rushed for a score in Cal's fifth win since its season-opening loss at Tennessee, when the Bears were ranked No. 9.
Cal has scored 171 points in the first halves of those five victories, and the Bears have scored at least 40 points in five straight games for the first time in school history. Bellotti, who employed Tedford for four years, could only applaud.
"Am I surprised by how well they played? Yes," Bellotti said. "It was not what I anticipated. ... It's the most crowd noise I've ever heard here, too. Sometimes there hasn't been a crowd here."
Lynch rushed for 50 yards and caught a 23-yard pass, but re-sprained his troublesome ankle in the second quarter. Cal kept rolling with Forsett, his more-than-capable understudy, in just the Bears' second win over Oregon in the last 10 meetings.
Pac-10 rushing leader Jonathan Stewart managed just 25 yards on 18 carries for the Ducks, whose spread offense never clicked with consistency.
"We thought we were ready, but we just didn't come out to play," Stewart said. "It seemed like they were right on top of our whole game plan."
Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, who grew up 15 miles away in San Leandro, had an awful game in front of 60 friends and family members. Taking constant hits from Cal's pass rushers, he finished 20-of-35 for 263 yards and three interceptions. He tossed two TD passes in the final 16 minutes.
Cal's Brandon Hampton intercepted Dixon's terrible off-balance throw on the Ducks' first play, and Stevens scored moments later.
Jackson then made a 36-yard TD catch when his defender fell down late in the first quarter. Longshore threw an interception on a tipped pass inside the Oregon 5 on Cal's next possession - but after Stewart fumbled, Lynch's 24-yard run set up Longshore's TD keeper.
Cal then went up by 25 points on another unbelievable return by Jackson.
"If you can get the ball in his hands like that with some blockers, forget about it," Longshore said.
Oregon's offense repeatedly stalled until a faked field goal set up its first TD on Stewart's 3-yard plunge 1:04 before halftime.
But Cal scored 10 points on its first two possessions of the second half, including a clock-killing 80-yard drive ending in Jordan's TD catch.
Tedford has turned Cal into a football power - but it's still Cal. Cosmologist George F. Smoot, who won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday, was introduced before the game to the cheering student section, which chanted "Nobel Prize! Nobel Prize!"