“Escape” doesn’t even begin to describe the Cal Bears’ win at Washington State on Saturday night. The defense allowed Connor Halliday to throw for an FBS record 734 yards, no interceptions and six touchdowns and Cal still won. The Bears were a missed 19-yard field goal away from averaging almost 55 points for the past three games and going 1-2.
And the Bears might not have even been in a position to win had Trevor Davis not run back two kickoffs for touchdowns in the third quarter. In both cases, the Cougs had just gone on drives of less than three minutes to take 11-point leads. Davis ran it back 100 yards and 98 yards to cut the margin back to four both times. Davis also caught Cal’s first touchdown as well as the game-winning touchdown, meaning he may have had the quietest ever 280-total-yard, four-touchdown night.
Once again, the defense made exactly one stop when they absolutely had to. Under a minute to play, the Cougs moving the ball at will, like they had all night, Halliday found Vince Mayle who looked to be headed for paydirt, but Cedric Dozier jumped on him at the four. After that, the Cougs half-heartedly ran the ball to run the clock down for the field goal try, and we know what happened there.
But the way this game was going, even if Wazzu had made the field goal, Cal would have had about 15 seconds to try for their own last-second score for a win. And Cal QB Jared Goff knew it. Asked what he was doing when the Cougs had the ball, he said:
“When we were waiting for the field goal I was just preparing to go back on the field.” –@JaredGoff16
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) October 5, 2014
Speaking of Goff, he set a school-record by throwing for 527 yards, completing 37-of-53 passes with five scores. In this space last week I mentioned that the two quarterbackss could set the record for most combined passing touchdowns in a game, considering Cal and Colorado set the record last week with 14. Well, they didn’t do that, but they set the FBS record for most passing yards in a game with 1,263, and were three tries away from setting the record for most passing attempts without a pick.
All that means the Bears are 4-1, in first place in the North Division at 2-1, and receiving votes in the polls for the first time in three years. And yes, they’re a missed field goal from being 1-2 in the conference, but they’re also a Hail Mary away from being undefeated. If the defense ever figures out how to stop anybody, they might not have to escape games anymore. Next week at Memorial Stadium is a good checkmark here. Washington (6 pm Saturday, Pac-12 Network) is last in the conference in total offense, averaging 370.2 yards a game (Wazzu is the no surprise leader with 579.5). Cal, expectedly, is last in the conference at total defense, giving up 427.8 yards a game. The Huskies and Bears have had some very interesting games throughout the years, and the way this college season has been for the Bears, it’ll probably be another boring finish.