Oct 13, 2001
BERKELEY, Calif. - Oregon's offense did what was expected. The defense was even better than coach Mike Bellotti hoped.
Joey Harrington passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as No. 5 Oregon got off to its best start since 1964, rolling past California 48-7 on Saturday.
The Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-10) got little challenge from the Golden Bears (0-5, 0-3), off to the worst start in school history. The game was a blowout by halftime, and Oregon's reserves got nearly as much playing time as the starters.
Oregon led 42-0 in the third quarter of its sixth straight victory over Cal - and the biggest blowout in the history of a rivalry that dates to 1899.
The Ducks' offense had another impressive afternoon, but the defense made the Golden Bears look as dismal as their record, intercepting three passes and holding Cal to 322 total yards - most of them after the game essentially was decided.
"I was very pleased with our defense," Bellotti said. "We continued to take the ball away. We came out strong on both sides of the ball. We dominated the line of scrimmage. We made a significant improvement today."
Maurice Morris ran for 81 yards and two TDs. Onterrio Smith and Keenan Howry each rushed for a touchdown as Oregon scored 21 points in the first 12 minutes.
Harrington was 13-of-20 for 181 yards despite sitting out the fourth quarter. While they weren't close to the eye-popping numbers he put up last week against Arizona (279 yards passing, three TD passes, three TD rushes), they were more than enough to beat Cal.
The game matched the Pac-10's two worst defenses, but only one played that way. Oregon shut out Cal until the fourth quarter, with the Ducks' much-criticized defensive secondary clamping down on Bears offensive coordinator Al Borges' aggressive passing game.
"On offense, you either go for the quick strike, or you're methodical. We weren't either," Borges said.
With Nike chairman and Oregon booster Phil Knight watching from the Oregon coaches' booth in the press box, Harrington led the Ducks on a game-opening 57-yard drive capped by Harrington's 1-yard TD run.
"We had to make a statement in the first series," Harrington said. "We came out playing well at the start."
After the Bears punted, Harrington waited two plays before throwing a 37-yard TD pass to Samie Parker. Cal quarterback Kyle Boller's next pass was tipped and intercepted, Smith capped an eight-play drive with a 1-yard TD run.
"I think that this is one time that the score did summarize the game," Cal running back Joe Igber said. "They got up early, and that was it."
Oregon's offense struggled in the second quarter, but Cal kept giving the Ducks plenty of opportunities. Ray Carmel fumbled on a punt return late in the second quarter, and Oregon capitalized with a 16-yard pass to Justin Peelle, who scored his team-leading seventh touchdown.
Oregon went up 42-0 late in the third quarter on Howry's 25-yard reverse TD run, which was keyed by Harrington's spectacular submarine block on Cal linebacker Lorenzo Alexander.
Cal finally scored on a short drive following an Oregon fumble early in the fourth. Boller was 18-of-40 for 171 yards.
"This was the coming together of the defense," Oregon linebacker Wesly Mallard said. "We're cutting down on our mistakes."
Cal's winless season under embattled coach Tom Holmoe sunk to new depths of futility - and rose to new heights of comedy, with even more turnovers and mistakes. On one play, Boller caught his own deflected pass and recovered his own fumble while gaining 2 yards.
"That was a very good Oregon team," Holmoe said. "Our offense has done some very good things through the course of this year, but it seemed like every time we had a play called, they were right on it."
Cal's struggles have taken a toll on school support as well. Memorial Stadium featured a large contingent of Oregon fans, and there were large sections of empty seats in Cal's normally packed student section.
One of the few students who remained held a bright yellow sign reading, "Fire Holmoe!"