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October 7, 2006
No. 16 Cal cruises to 45-24 win over Oregon
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BERKELEY, Calif. -California passed like a Duck, tackled like a Duck and even dressed like a Duck - and the Golden Bears did it all much better than Oregon.
DeSean Jackson caught one of Nate Longshore's three touchdown passes and returned a punt 65 yards for another score, leading No. 16 Cal to a 45-24 victory over the 11th-ranked Ducks on Saturday night.
The Bears (5-1, 3-0 Pac-10) took control almost from the moment they ran out of the Memorial Stadium tunnel wearing new, garishly gold jerseys. The surprising shirts looked just like something the fashion-forward Ducks (4-1, 2-1) would wear - but the Bears backed up that bold color with another series of big plays in their fifth straight blowout victory.
These West Coast powers have similarities ranging from their intertwined coaching staffs to their high-octane offenses, but Cal coach Jeff Tedford easily landed his second victory over former mentor Mike Bellotti in front of a raucous sellout crowd.
Robert Jordan and tight end Craig Stevens also caught TD throws from Longshore, who passed for 189 yards and rushed for a score in Cal's fifth win since its season-opening loss at Tennessee, when the Bears were ranked No. 9.
Cal has scored 171 points in the first halves of those five victories, and the Bears raced out to a 28-3 lead in the second quarter against Oregon, which had none of the offensive potency from its first four wins.
Lynch rushed for 50 yards and caught a 23-yard pass, but hurt his lower back in the second quarter. Cal kept rolling with Forsett, his more-than-capable understudy, in just the Bears' second win over Oregon in the schools' last 10 meetings.
Pac-10 rushing leader Jonathan Stewart managed just 25 yards on 18 carries for the Ducks, whose spread offense never managed to find consistent holes in Cal's defense.
Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, who grew up 15 miles away in San Leandro, had an awful game in front of 60 friends and family members. Taking hits from Cal's pass rushers on most downs, he finished 20-of-35 for 263 yards and three interceptions after throwing just two picks in the Ducks' first four games.
Cal's Brandon Hampton intercepted Dixon's terrible off-balance throw on the Ducks' first play, and Stevens scored moments later.
Jackson then made a 36-yard TD catch when his defender fell down late in the first quarter. Longshore threw an interception on a tipped pass inside the Oregon 5 on Cal's next possession - but after Stewart fumbled, Lynch's 24-yard run set up Longshore's TD on a keeper.
Cal then went up 28-3 on another unbelievable return by Jackson, the sophomore with sticky hands and track-star speed. He caught the punt near the Oregon sideline, ran two-thirds of the way to his own sideline and reversed field before breaking through the coverage team and steaming to the end zone.
Oregon's offense repeatedly stalled until an outstanding fake field goal set up its first TD on Stewart's 3-yard plunge 1:04 before halftime.
But Cal scored 10 points on its first two possessions of the second half, including a clock-killing 80-yard drive ending in Jordan's TD catch. Dixon threw long TD passes to Jaison Williams and James Finley in the final 16 minutes, but Forsett scored on a 23-yard run with 6:24 to play.
Tedford has turned Cal into a football power - but it's still Cal. Cosmologist George F. Smoot, who won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday, was introduced before the game to the cheering student section, which chanted "Nobel Prize! Nobel Prize!"