Oregon-Cal game features two of the Pac-12's brightest young QBs 

click to enlarge Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff has no reservations facing off with Oregon's Marcus Mariota on Saturday. "Just a regular game," he said. - THEARON W. HENDERSON/GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images file photo
  • Cal freshman quarterback Jared Goff has no reservations facing off with Oregon's Marcus Mariota on Saturday. "Just a regular game," he said.

EUGENE, Ore. — If Cal quarterback Jared Goff has any jitters about his first start on the road, he sure isn't showing it.

Goff was cool about playing No. 2 Oregon in what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.

"Just a regular game in front of a bunch of crazy people," he said.

The freshman quarterback is having a sensational start to his college career, steering first-year Cal coach Sonny Dykes' "Bear Raid" offense. He leads the nation and the Pac-12 with an average of 435.3 yards passing.

He's second in the Pac-12 with 1,306 total yards passing and he's completed 61.3 percent of his passes in three games. In his last game, a 52-34 Cal loss to No. 4 Ohio State on Sept. 14, Goff passed for 371 yards with three touchdowns.

Those numbers both impress and concern Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.

"He's playing great. He's been virtually lights out," Helfrich said. "They've done a really good job managing things for him."

Goff became the first freshman to start his first game in school history after beating out redshirt freshman Zach Kline and junior Austin Hinder in fall camp. The last true freshman to start a game for Cal was Kyle Boller, who came off the bench in his first game in 1999 before getting his first start a week later.

Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota, only a sophomore himself, is a seasoned veteran compared to Goff.

Known for his scrambling ability, Mariota is ranked fifth nationally with an average of 383.7 total offensive yards per game. He's averaging 296.3 yards passing a game in an offense that's scoring 61.3 points per game.

By showing his versatility this season with the pass as well as the rush, Mariota has been getting ever-increasing Heisman Trophy buzz. But he calls such talk "outside noise."

"For me, that's individual accolades," he said. "That's something that around here, we don't really talk about."

With both players seeing success with the pass so far this season, it is expected that Saturday night's game could stretch very late. Despite Goff's passing prowess, the Golden Bears are more than 35-point underdogs to the Ducks.

Goff is, as usual, taking it in stride.

"We're going to take it as a challenge and go up there and do what we do every day," he said. "We really feel our offense can score on anybody."


Cal vs. Oregon

WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore.

TV: Pac-12 Network


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