Cal Opens 2020 Season Against Washington
BERKELEY, Calif. - The California football team will open the 2020 season by taking on Pac-12 rival Washington on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN. This will be the 100th meeting between the schools, but will be unlike any other; fans will not be allowed in the stadium for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
RECENT SUCCESS VS. THE HUSKIES
- Cal takes on Washington for the 100th time in the program's history.
- Cal has enjoyed success vs. Washington over the past five years, going 3-2 vs. the Huskies despite the fact that UW has ranked in the nation's top 15 at the time of four of those meetings.
- Cal won a memorable, 20-19, contest in 2019 that ended at 1:22 a.m. after a lightning storm delayed the game at Husky Stadium early in the first quarter. Cal's Greg Thomas kicked a game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining to clinch the win over No. 14/12 Washington.
- Cal enjoyed a 12-10 victory in 2018 as the Bears pulled the upset over No. 15/13 Washington at California Memorial Stadium as Evan Weaver had the defining interception return for a touchdown, to give Cal its only touchdown.
- Cal has defeated Washington each of the last two times the teams have opened their Pac-12 slate against each other; 2015, 2019.
- In 2015, the Bears won, 30-24. It was the first victory for Cal in Seattle since 2005.
STARTING THE SEASON STRONG
- Cal is 87-45-5 all-time in 137 season openers and has a current win streak of six straight dating back to 2014. The six-game win streak in season openers is tied for the second-longest in school history behind only the 14 in a row from 1919-32.
- Cal is 13-3 in its last 16 season openers since 2004.
- Cal has won its last six consecutive home openers and is 16-2 in its home openers since 2002.
- 2020 will be the eighth time Cal has opened the season with a conference matchup, Cal is 3-4 all-time in that scenario. Cal has never opened the season vs. Washington.
- The most recent season opener vs. a conference opponent was 1993, when Cal beat UCLA, 27-25.
CAL ENTERS 2020 ON BEST STRETCH IN A DECADE
- Cal finished the 2019 season with a 8-5 record (4-5 in the Pac-12).
- Cal tied for second place in the Pac-12 North, the Bears highest finish in the division since the conference created divisions in 2011.
- Cal played in its third bowl appearance in last five years and the first back-to-back bowl appearances since the team went to seven straight bowl games between 2003-09.
- This is the first time since 2008-09 that Cal has secured both back-to-back winning seasons and bowl game appearances.
- Cal has been to 24 bowls in school history, but the team has only been to multiple bowl games in a row five times, including the past two years (1921-22, 1949-51, 1992-93, 2003-09, 2018-19).
- The Bears had back-to-back seasons of .500 or better records on the road for first time since 2004 (5-1) and 2005 (3-2) as they went 4-2 in 2019 after going 3-2 in 2018.
- Cal won at UCLA for the first time since 2009 during the 2019 season.
- The Bears reclaimed The Axe by defeating Stanford for the first time since 2009, as they won, 24-20, at Stanford Stadium.
- Cal won back-to-back road games in Los Angeles for the first time since 1970-71. The Bears also won in 1999-2000, but the 1999 win was later forfeited due to the use of ineligible players.
- 2018-19 is the first time that Cal has won on the road at all three of their California rivals (Stanford, UCLA, USC) over a two-year span since 1949-50.
- The Bears also secured road wins over No. 14/12 Washington and in SEC Territory by defeating Ole Miss in 2019 and are 7-4 in road games over the past two seasons.
- After starting the season with four straight wins, Cal moved up to No. 15 in the AP Top 25 Poll and No. 16 in the Coaches Poll. It was the highest Cal has been ranked since week 4 of the 2009 season when the Bears were No. 6/6.
CAL SHOWS IMPROVEMENT UNDER JUSTIN WILCOX
- Justin Wilcox enters his fourth season as the head coach at Cal in 2020.
- The Bears have improved during each year of Wilcox's tenure: 5-7 (2017), 7-6 (2018), 8-5 (2019).
- Wilcox has a record of 20-18 (.526) after three seasons.
- His career winning percentage currently ranks fourth amongst all Cal coaches since 1960. He only trails Jeff Tedford (.590), Bruce Snyder (.544) and Mike White (.538).
- Justin Wilcox signed a new five-year contract extension after the 2018 season which extends through the 2023 regular season.
- The Bears are 9-0 in regular season non-conference games during Wilcox's tenure, including wins over UNC (Home & Away), Ole Miss (H&A), BYU (A), North Texas (H), UC Davis (H), Idaho State (H) and Weber State (H).
COACHING STAFF CHANGES
- Cal has added four new coaches to the staff for the 2020 season.
- Bill Musgrave takes over as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Musgrave has 20 years of experience working in the NFL including 13 seasons as an offensive coordinator. He was most recently the offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos in 2017-18.
- Angus McClure returns to the Bay Area as the offensive line coach for the Bears. He has 24 years of experience as an assistant coach in the collegiate ranks, spending 11 seasons at UCLA and the last two years at Nevada.
- Aristotle Thompson joins Cal as the new running back coach after spending 11 years in the same role at Cal Poly. While there he helped the program feature a 1,000 yard rusher in the past nine consecutive seasons.
- The lone personnel change on defense was the addition of Marcel Yates as the defensive backs coach. Yates has been a collegiate coach for 19 years, including eight years as a defensive coordinator. He is now the fourth coach on the Cal staff who has been a defensive coordinator, joining Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon and Tim DeRuyter.
- Sirmon and DeRuyter will be switching some of their roles for the 2020 season. Sirmon will now be calling plays and will be the defensive coordinator, inside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. DeRutyer will serve as the co-defensive coordinator, associate head coach and outside linebackers coach.
- Cal has four players on the squad from the state of Washington: Justin Baker (Bellevue), Matthew Cindric (Sammamish), Colin Hamilton (Edmonds) and Orin Patu (Seattle).
- Justin Wilcox was the defensive coordinator at Washington during the 2012-13 seasons while Peter Sirmon served as the Huskies' linebackers coach for those same two years.
- Peter Sirmon's son Jackson Sirmon is a redshirt sophomore linebacker for Washington.
- Peter Sirmon's nephew, Jacob Sirmon, is a redshirt sophomore quarterback with the Huskies.
- Chase Garbers' brother, Ethan Garbers, is a true freshman quarterback for the Huskies
- Jacob Sirmon and Ethan Garbers are two of the four quarterbacks battling for the starting job for Washington.
- Marques Tuiasosopo was a star quarterback at Washington, leading the team to a 11-1 record as a senior as he was named Rose Bowl MVP. He was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and finished eighth in the Heisman voting.
- Tuiasosopo served as the quarterbacks coach at Washington in 2013, he took over as the interim head coach at the end of the season and led the Huskies to a victory in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
- Torre Becton served on the strength and conditioning staff at Washington from 2011-15.
- Cal's C.J. Anderson, who serves as a volunteer quality control, offense, ran for 160 yards on 22 carries against Washington in 2012.
- Washington's special teams coordinator/inside linebackers coach Bob Gregory served as the defensive coordinator at Cal from 2002-09.
GARBERS RETURNS TO HELM OFFENSE
- Chase Garbers has led the Bears to a 13-6 record as the starting quarterback, but the Bears are 13-2 in games where Garbers has played more than half the game, including 7-0 in 2019. The Bears are also 7-1 when Garbers starts and plays more than a half on the road.
- Garbers ended the year with three-of-his-six best games in terms of passing yardage coming in Cal's final three games: Stanford (285), UCLA (230) and Illinois (272). He also accounted for eight touchdowns during that three-game span, the most he's had in any three-game span in his career.
- Garbers is the Pac-12's active career leader in wins (13) and starts (19).
- Garbers had career-highs in passing yards (357), touchdowns (4) and completions (23) vs. Ole Miss.
- Garbers had 285 yards passing, 72 yards rushing and two total touchdowns vs. Stanford in 2019. He has led the team to game-winning scores on their final drive at both Washington and Stanford.
- He was named Offensive MVP of the Redbox Bowl after passing for 272 yards and recording five total touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rushing).
- Garbers passed for 1772 yards and had 14 touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions in 215 pass attempts.
- The dual-threat quarterback also tallied 223 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in 2019.