EVANSTON, Ill. - With today’s 31-24 victory by California over Northwestern on Saturday, the Golden Bears picked up their first-ever win over Northwestern, and the Wildcats now lead the all-time series, 2-1. Cal is now 74-42-4 all-time in season openers. The last time the Golden Bears won a season opener on the road was in the 2004 when the then-No. 13 Bears topped Air Force, 56-14. The last time Cal opened a season as the road team was in 2006 at Tennessee.
Cal’s opening drive of the season was 18 plays, 79 yards and was capped by a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Bryce Treggs. It was Treggs’ third career touchdown. The 18-play drive is the most since last year’s contest against UCLA when the Bears had a 21-play drive.
Goff finished the game completing 21 of 34 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. He now has seven career multi-touchdown games.
Wide receiver Kenny Lawler hauled in Goff’s second touchdown pass at the end of the first quarter. It was Lawler’s sixth career touchdown reception. He ended the game with five catches for 38 yards and a touchdown.
On the first play from scrimmage following Northwestern’s first touchdown, Cal answered right back when Goff connected with wide receiver Trevor Davis for his first career touchdown pass, good for 76 yards. That completion marked Goff’s 10th pass of 50 or more yards and is the second longest in his career after an 89-yard touchdown reception from Goff to Chris Harper last season. Davis caught three passes for 93 yards on the day.
On the third play from scrimmage, true freshman quarterback Luke Rubenzer came in and rushed for 11 yards. Rubenzer finished the game with 11 rushes for 48 yards. His rushing yards were the most by a quarterback since Zach Maynard ran for 78 at Washington State in 2012.
Wide receiver Darius Powe hauled in four passes for 65 yards, including a career-high 40-yard reception.
Linebacker Jalen Jefferson picked up his third career sack late in the fourth quarter and followed that with his second career interception to seal the win for the Bears. Jefferson also totaled a personal-best 16 tackles, the mos by a Cal player since 2010.
Running back Khalfani Muhammad picked up his fifth career rushing touchdown in the third quarter.
The last time Cal had a 14-point lead at the end of the first quarter was against Presbyterian on Sept. 17, 2011, a 63-12 Cal victory. The Bears held leads of as many as 30 during that game.
Playing in his first collegiate game, Griffin Piatt picked up his first career interception in the second quarter.
Placekicker James Langford was good on his first career field goal attempt from 20 yards.
The 17-point halftime lead is the largest halftime lead since Cal led Washington State, 23-0, in 2011, and the largest under Sonny Dykes.
Cal converted on 8 of 17 third downs after finishing 2013 with a conversion percentage of 34 percent. In the redzone, the Bears were 4-for-4, with three of those scores being touchdowns. Last year, Cal scored 21 touchdowns in 43 trips to the redzone.
Wide receiver Ray Hudson picked up his first career catch on the final play of the third quarter.