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. 15 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Poll. Illinois is not ranked.
This Week's Game:
Off to a 2-0 start after last week's 56-17 rout of Washington in Seattle, California seeks its ninth straight home victory when the Golden Bears host Illinois Saturday at 2 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.
Junior Joe Ayoob, who was 0-for-10 in a relief role vs. Sacramento State Sept. 3, returns to the Bay Area a much more confident quarterback after completing 17-of-27 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns against the Huskies. Now entrenched as Cal's starter, Ayoob led the Bears on five scoring drives of 76 yards or more vs. UW.
The primary recipient of Ayoob's aerials was sophomore WR Robert Jordan, who was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week (9/12-17). Jordan set three career highs in his 2005 debut - 11 catches for 192 yards and a school-record-tying three TDs.
Cal continued to display its offensive balance with 286 yards rushing. Junior TB Marcus O'Keith, subbing for an injured Marshawn Lynch (fractured finger), extended the Bears' streak of consecutive games with a 100-yard rusher to 14 games by gaining 103 yards on six carries, including scoring bursts of five and 71 yards. Through two games, O'Keith has eight rushes for 172 yards for an average of 21.5 yards per carry. Overall, Cal leads the Pac-10 in scoring defense (10.0 ppg).
The Bears are also best in the conference in pass efficiency defense (102.69), having limited opponents to an even 50 percent completion rate and just 5.6 yards per attempt. Junior CB Daymeion Hughes capped the day at Washington with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Continuing a trend from last season, Cal has held its first two foes to 68 yards rushing each and a combined average of 2.3 yards per attempt. No running back has managed a 10-yard run, with only a handful of quarterback scrambles accounting for double-digit gains. Dating back to 2004, the Bears have not allowed a team to reach 100 yards rushing for six straight outings, giving up an average of 57.3 ypg during that span. This season, junior LB Desmond Bishop has paced Cal with seven tackles in both contests to date, while junior DT Brandon Mebane leads a swarming defense with 2.5 tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks.
Special teams have also performed well, especially the punting game. The return combination of Tim Mixon and DeSean Jackson is averaging 22.3 ypr, and punter David Lone has placed seven of 11 kicks inside the opponent 20-yard-line.
Free car wash coupons from Touchless Car Wash in Berkeley will be distributed to 10,000 fans after the game (while supplies last). There will also be a Come to College Day celebration for youth groups and organizations, and the Cal Alumni Band will perform at halftime. The Illinois game will also feature a celebration of Constitution Day. Cal's official tailgate party, FunZone, begins at 11:30 a.m. on Maxwell Family Field and features a performance by Rockin' Ray and the Skyy Dogs, while the March to Victory starts at 11:40 a.m., next to Maxwell Field.
A Quick Look at Illinois
Illinois is off to a 2-0 start following home victories over Rutgers (33-30 OT) and San Jose State (40-19) to begin the year. The Illini feature a balanced offensive attack which averages 241.0 ypg through the air and 223.5 ypg on the ground. QB Tim Brasic has completed 41-of-56 passes for 432 yards and three touchdowns, while he has also rushed for 97 yards and two scores. Defensively, Illinois has already made 14 tackles for loss, led by three for minus 11 yards by DT Chris Norwell. Last year, the Illini finished 3-8 overall and 1-7 in the Big Ten.
Illinois Head Coach Ron Zook
Ron Zook is in his first season as head coach at Illinois after serving the previous three seasons as head coach at Florida. While with the Gators from 2002-04, he compiled a 23-14 record, which included three bowl berths and a share of the 2003 SEC East Division title. Zook began his coaching career at the high school level in 1976, and he has since worked as an assistant coach at the collegiate level at Murray State (1978-80), Cincinnati (1981-82), Kansas (1983), Tennessee (1984-86), Virginia Tech (1987), Ohio State (1988-90) and Florida (1991-95). Zook then moved to the NFL from 1996-2001, serving the last two years as defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints before taking the helm at Florida in 2002.
The No. 15 (Associated Press) California Golden Bears return to Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon when they host the Illinois Fighting Illini in a 2 p.m. start in Berkeley. Both teams enter the game unbeaten with 2-0 records. California is 1-0 in Pac-10 play while the Illini have yet to face a league foe.
California enters Saturday's game having won 15 of its last 17 games and 17 of its last 20 contests. That span includes a record winning streak in Pac-10 play. Cal has now won seven straight Pac-10 games for the first time ever after knocking off Washington, 56-17, last week.
Crowds Are Us
One season after drawing a school-record average attendance of 64,019 per game, and leading the nation in attendance increase, Cal is off to another fast start at the box office. The Bears set an opening-game attendance record against Sacramento State with a crowd of 65,938 fans on hand for the 41-3 victory. It marked the second straight season in which the Bears set a new record for first-game crowds. In 2003, the opening-game crowd was 58,946 as Cal knocked off New Mexico State.
Cal has not yet put the finishing touches on the 2005 season-ticket count, but there will be record numbers there, as well. California fans will buy more than 40,000 season tickets this year. That number will surpass last season's record total of 34,100. Below is a quick look at the climbing demand for season tickets since Jeff Teford's arrival.
Year Totals 2002 16,200 2003 22,500 2004 34,100 2005 40,000+ (estimated)
Following blowout victories over Sacramento State (41-3) and Washington (56-17), California has climbed to No. 15 in the Associated Press and USA Today polls. Cal has been represented in each weekly poll since the preseason edition of the 2004 season. Under Jeff Tedford, the Bears are 12-3 when playing as a ranked team.