No. 8 Oregon (6-1, 4-0) vs. California (3-4, 1-3)
- When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, California
- How to watch: TV — FS1. Radio — KUJZ-FM (95.3), Sirius (133), XM (197)
- Latest line: Oregon is favored by 17.5 points
About the opponent
The Golden Bears are reeling at the moment, losers of three straight and struggling to put points on the board.
Cal opened the Pac-12 season with a 49-31 win against Arizona — their only Power 5 victory this season — but have followed with losses to Washington State (28-9), Colorado (20-13) and Washington (28-21) and are averaging just 23.3 points per game, 11th fewest among conference teams.
The Bears’ defense is legit, however, as they’re allowing 22.1 points per game and last week held the Huskies, who had the Pac-12’s No. 1 scoring offense at the time, scoreless in the first half.
Now they face Oregon, which is scoring 42.4 per game and has 39 touchdowns to Cal’s 20.
Freshman running back Jayden Ott gave a head-turning performance against the Wildcats when he rushed for 274 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. But in the three games since he’s rushed for just 155 and one score on 47 carries.
Starting quarterback Jack Plummer, a 6-5, 215 redshirt senior transfer from Purdue, has thrown for 1,754 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.
The last time Ducks, Bears met
It was a lackluster performance by Oregon in a 2021 game played at Autzen Stadium after the Ducks’ bye week.
Oregon trailed 17-10 in the fourth quarter but scored the final two touchdowns to win 24-17 as the No. 9 Ducks had to rally at home to beat a Cal team that dropped to 1-5 with the loss.
Oregon secured the win with a game-ending goal-line stand as Cal had first-and-goal from the Ducks’ 3-yard line with less than 20 second to play. A spike to stop the clock on first down, an incompletion by quarterback Chase Garbers and 1-yard run by Garbers that was stuffed by Noah Sewell and Bradyn Swinson set up fourth down. On the final play, Garber was pressured into an incompletion by Sewell with 2 seconds left.
What could’ve been with Justin Wilcox
Cal coach Justin Wilcox was offered the chance to return to Oregon last December when the search was on to replace Mario Cristobal.
But the former Duck player and Junction City High grad turned Oregon down and it immediately followed with an offer to Dan Lanning.
“If we continue along this path, we can do some great things here,” Wilcox said about Cal last December when it was first reported that he turned down an offer from Oregon, “and things that haven’t been done before.”
After being recruited to Oregon as a quarterback in 1996, Wilcox moved to defensive back during his career as a Duck.
Wilcox comes from a long line of Ducks. He’s the son of former Oregon linebacker Dave Wilcox, who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His brother Josh was a standout tight end who was a key member of the 1994 Rose Bowl team, and his uncle John also was a Duck.
Wilcox, 45, is in his sixth season at Cal and has an overall record of 29-32.
Other Bears with local ties
Wilcox isn’t the only coach on the Bears’ staff with an Oregon connection.
Their offensive coordinator is former Ducks’ QB legend and Oregon athletic Hall of Famer Bill Musgrave. Their defensive coordinator is former star linebacker Peter Sirmon, who was teammates with Wilcox at Oregon in the late 1990s.
Sirmon’s son Jackson is also a starting linebacker for Cal. The redshirt senior who transferred from Washington is the third-leading tackler in the Pac-12 this season with an average of 9.0 per game.
There are also a pair of former Sheldon High School players on the Bears team, including redshirt junior linebacker Orin Patu, who is the son of former Oregon defensive end Saul Patu and softball player Alana (Burns) Patu.
Senior safety Raymond Woodie III, a transfer from Florida State, was an all-state defensive back for the Irish during his one season in Eugene while his dad was a coach on Willie Taggart’s staff with the Ducks in 2017.
What they’re wearing
The Ducks’ uniform combo will be revealed later this week.