Oct. 30, 2004
By GREG BEACHAM
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - J.J. Arrington ran for 188 yards and a score, and seventh-ranked California forced five turnovers in its second straight shutout victory, beating No. 20 Arizona State 27-0 on Saturday night.
Tim Mixon returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown for the Golden Bears (6-1, 4-1 Pac-10), whose increasingly dominant defense held Sun Devils quarterback Andrew Walter without a TD pass while posting consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1968.
Cal blanked Arizona 38-0 last week before shutting down Walter and the Sun Devils' high-powered offense. Arizona State failed to score inside the 10 in the closing minutes, and Cal ran out the clock on the Sun Devils' first shutout loss since Sept. 30, 1995.
There might be even more good news for the Bears on Sunday: After losses by No. 3 Miami and fifth-ranked Florida State, they seem poised to reach the top five for the first time since 1952.
Freshman Robert Jordan caught seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in his second collegiate game, but Aaron Rodgers struggled to connect with his injury-plagued receiving corps. Rodgers threw a touchdown pass on the Bears' first play, but was held to 165 yards passing.
So Cal relied on Arrington, who had another impressive performance. He reached 1,000 yards faster than any player in Cal history with his school-record seventh straight 100-yard game, and his 1-yard TD dive in the fourth quarter put it away.
Walter passed for 238 yards for the Sun Devils (6-2, 3-2), who got their second blowout loss in three games after starting the season with five straight wins. Walter also failed to throw a touchdown pass, leaving him one TD throw behind John Elway's Pac-10 career record of 77.
The latest-starting game in Memorial Stadium's history was played under four stanchions of temporary lights. Cal's 52,652 chilled fans still packed the house for Berkeley's first meeting of ranked teams since 1993.
The Sun Devils made just two turnovers in their first five games, but they've made 10 in the last three. Arizona State lost four of its five fumbles, and Walter's lone interception was returned for a score that broke open the game.
With veteran receivers Chase Lyman and Burl Toler sidelined by injuries, the Bears relied heavily on Jordan, a touted prospect expected to redshirt the season until the injuries forced his activation last week. Jordan made several mistakes, running incorrect routes and dropping balls, but also showed off his potential.
Cal's offense wasn't in its usual form all day, with Rodgers managing just 117 yards passing in the first half - but Arizona State's offense couldn't reach Cal territory until early in the third quarter.
Walter and the Sun Devils got increasingly impatient with Cal's steady defense, trying ever more difficult passes - until Walter lost sight of Mixon, who stepped in front of a pass at midfield and returned it for the first touchdown of his career.
The Sun Devils got inside the Cal 10 on Hakim Hill's 57-yard run moments later, but Jesse Ainsworth missed a short field goal. Hill ran for 104 yards after his mysterious benching last week.
Turnovers plagued the Sun Devils from the opening kickoff in Berkeley when Josh Golden fumbled - though television replays showed he was probably down before the ball came loose. Rodgers immediately found Jordan in the right corner of the end zone with a perfect scoring pass just 20 seconds in.
Cal got another break moments later when Tom Schneider's 48-yard field goal bounced off the crossbar, hit the television camera between the uprights and plopped back on the field. Officials initially ruled the kick no good, then reversed themselves after realizing what happened.