Bears Roll Past Buffs, 26-3
BERKELEY – A college football season is short enough that a singular victory can significantly change a team's perspective.
But after Cal's thorough 26-3 win over Colorado on Saturday at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium, the Golden Bears refused to take the long view.
"Beat Oregon State – that's what I'm thinking about right now," said Cal senior Elijah Hicks, referring to Cal's next opponent. "That's what my focus is. We're going to get ready for Oregon State."
Cal (2-5, 1-3 Pac-12) registered its first Pac-12 victory of the season Saturday and second overall. But with four of its five losses coming by seven points or less, a performance like Saturday's could have the Bears thinking big for the rest of the season.
But Cal also knows that a subpar performance next Saturday at home against the Beavers would render any big-picture approach meaningless.
"We understand what's in front of us – there's a ton to play for," Travers Family Head Football Coach Justin Wilcox said. "But most importantly, we have to have a great week of practice and prepare for Oregon State. We're focused on the right here and right now."
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) October 23, 2021
The Bears have played well enough to win in most of their games this season, but Saturday they made sure of it with a complete dismantling of Colorado on both sides of the ball. Cal held the Buffaloes to just 104 yards of total offense, the team's best defensive performance since limiting Presbyterian to 48 total yards in a 63-12 victory in 2011 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Bears also prevented an opponent from scoring a touchdown for the first time since a 37-3 win over Washington State in 2017.
Cal was remarkably balanced on offense with 225 passing yards and 213 on the ground. Quarterback Chase Garbers was a model of efficiency, hurting Colorado with both his right arm and his feet. He was 22-of-29 for 225 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions while also rushing for a career-high 96 yards.
In the process, Garbers became Cal's career leader in rushing yards by a quarterback with 1025, passing legendary Joe Kapp's total of 931.
"It's truly an honor to be a record-holder of some sort, but all the credit goes to the other 10 guys on offense," Garbers said. "They are the reason why I can run, why I can throw, the reason why I'm successful at this school and in this offense."
Hicks had arguably his best game at Cal, registering a team-best six tackles with a sack, an interception and a career-high 2.5 tackles for loss. The Bears sacked Colorado quarterback Brendon Lewis six times overall, their highest total in two seasons.
"Elijah has been playing good football for us for a long time," Wilcox said. "That may have been the best game he has played since he's been here. He was very productive. He did a great job."
Kicker Dario Longhetto made a career-high four field goals, including a 51-yarder, one short of his career-best.
The Bears scored on all five of their possessions in the first half, with three field goals by Longhetto and touchdown passes from Garbers to tight ends Keleki Latu and Gavin Reinwald. It was the first career catch for Latu and the second straight game in which Reinwald has caught a scoring pass. Garbers completed passes to 10 different receivers.
"We have a lot of pride in what we do," Hicks said. "We practice hard. We have guys who love to compete and want to win. We just have to keep it up and end on the winning side."
The Bears remain home next Saturday when they host Oregon State at 4 p.m. The game will air on Pac-12 Network.