Published January 13, 2015
California quarterback Jared Goff literally couldn't get a grip against No. 2 Oregon.
A driving rain spoiled the promising freshman's first road game and thwarted Cal's new "Bear Raid" offense under coach Sonny Dykes, leaving the Golden Bears with a 55-16 loss on Saturday night.
Goff went into the game as the national leader with an average of 435.3 yards passing a game. He completed just 3 of 6 passes for 11 yards in the first quarter before he was replaced with backup Zach Kline.
"I was just having trouble gripping the wet ball and they made a decision to put Zach in and it was probably the best decision," Goff said. "He came in and did his thing."
Kline completed 18 of 37 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown for the Golden Bears (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12)
The ball was slipping out of (Goff's) hand. We're not quite sure why but it was," Dykes said. "So we felt like were having a hard time getting anything done. Couldn't throw it at all. We needed to make a change and it felt like it gave us a better chance to move the football and score some points."
The Ducks, as it turned out, were much better at handling the water.
Marcus Mariota threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, while Bralon Addison returned two punts for touchdowns and Byron Marshall ran for 130 yards and two more scores for Oregon (4-0, 1-0).
Mariota, mentioned as an early Heisman Trophy candidate, completed 11 of 24 passes for 114 yards and ran for another 33 yards before coach Mark Helfrich sat him during the third quarter.
Almost the entire game was drenched by a strong storm that swept across the Pacific Northwest, cutting power to more than 26,500 customers in Oregon. It was a sloppy mess on the field, too, with 10 fumbles — four for Cal and six for Oregon.
"Oregon put the ball on the ground six times tonight and we recovered two of them. We put it on the ground four times and they recovered four," Dykes said. "That was a big difference in the ballgame, especially early. We just gave them short fields and put the defense in a bind."
Oregon opened the game with Marshall's 14-yard scoring run. Mariota threw two touchdown passes, a 19-yarder to Josh Huff and a 14-yarder to Daryle Hawkins before Marshall ran for a 25-yard score to make it 27-0.
But the start of the game was also costly for Oregon. Running back De'Anthony Thomas was hurt while returning the opening kickoff. He grasped his lower right leg and had to be helped off the field. He reappeared after the half on crutches, but because Oregon does not discuss injuries it is unclear how serious it is.
The speedy junior leads the Ducks with 338 yards rushing and six touchdowns. He has 485 all-purpose yards through Oregon's first three games.
Mariota ran 2 yards to score in the second quarter before Addison's 75-yard punt return for a touchdown. Cal finally got on the board as time ran out with Vincenzo D'Amato's 46-yard field goal.
Addison's 67-yard punt return for a score early in the second quarter made is 48-3. The only other Duck with two punt returns for touchdowns in a game was Cliff Harris against New Mexico in 2010.
Thomas Tyner ran for a 21-yard touchdown for the Ducks before Jeffrey Coprich pushed in a yard for a TD for Cal to make it 55-10. Kline hit James Grisom with a 7-yard scoring pass for the final margin.
Both teams were coming off bye weeks.
The Bears' last outing was a 52-34 loss to No. 4 Ohio State on Sept 14. The Ducks are the third ranked opponent that Cal has faced; the team also lost to then-No. 22 Northwestern in the season opener. All three teams are undefeated.
Oregon put up easy nonconference victories over Nicholls State, Virginia and Tennessee. The Ducks have averaged 61.3 points per game, ranked second nationally, while allowing opponents just 9 points a game.