Golden Bears flattened by Ducks 42-24 behind six Nix TD’s

BY XAVIER JOHNSON

Cal’s nightmarish October came to an end with a 42-24 defeat against the 8th-ranked Oregon Ducks (7-1, 5-0) Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium, extending the Golden Bears losing streak to four.

Cal (3-5, 1-4), entered the matchup with Oregon on a skid, losing to Washington, Washington St, and giving Colorado its first win of the season. It was a big step up in competition coming in against an Oregon team fresh off a 45-30 victory over #12 UCLA.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix looks to pass during the Ducks 42-24 win over Cal Saturday afternoon. He finished 27-35 for 412 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another three scores on the ground.

For Cal, both sides of the ball struggled to get anything going until the final quarter and by then, they were already 18 points in the hole. Offensive struggles have been a common theme throughout the up-and-down season, however, the defensive performance proved to be a new sign of concern. Oregon put up 586 yards of total offense, which is more than Cal has given up in six seasons.

“We didn’t play good enough at all. It was really just the little things, especially in the back end like communication and doing your assignment. We didn’t get it done today,” Redshirt junior safety Craig Woodson said during the post-game press conference.

The defense struggled to find the quarterback and prevent big plays in part because Oregon’s stout offensive line was able to protect quarterback Bo Nix and give him time to make plays. Oregon came into the game having only given up one sack all season.

On the offensive end, quarterback Jack Plummer was benched in the fourth quarter finishing his day 20-33 for 214 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Redshirt freshman Kai Milner came in and threw for 8-11 for 114 yards with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, helping push the Golden Bears to 24 points on the day. One of those touchdowns from Milner was a 55-yard dime to junior receiver Justin Baker. It was Baker’s first collegiate touchdown.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Kris Hutson (1) attempts to break free from Cal’s Hunter Barth during the Ducks 42-24 win Saturday.

In response to Plummer sitting in the fourth quarter, coach Justin Wilcox in the post-game press conference reaffirmed that Plummer will continue to be the starter with a single word, “yes.”

Oregon continued to assert its status as the best team in the conference by dominating Cal on the back of a golden performance from Auburn transfer Nix. He notched six touchdowns and 471 total yards; finishing the game 27-35 for 412 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. This was supplemented with 12 rushes for 59 yards and three touchdowns. He’s the first Oregon quarterback since Jeremiah Masoli in 2009 to go for three passing and rushing touchdowns in the same game.

This was Oregon’s seventh 40+ point finish and furthers the fight to earn a playoff spot. The team’s lone blemish came in a season opening 49-3 drubbing at the hands of the top ranked Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta.

Oregon had a characteristically slow start struggling to get their offense going despite a defensive performance that included an interception on Plummer’s second pass of the game. Right on time, Oregon jumped out to a lead on the first play of the second quarter on a third and-goal touchdown run from Nix. Oregon is number one in the nation in second-quarter offense, scoring an average of 15.5 points in the second quarter coming into the game. Cal responded quickly with a Plummer dime to redshirt freshman J.Michael Sturdivant to push the score to 10-7 in favor of Cal, but that was the last time they would see the lead.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Cal’s Jaydn Ott fights for extra yardage against Christian Gonzalez (0) and the Oregon Ducks
Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

The momentum clearly got away from Cal through key moments toward the end of the first half and was unable to be wrestled back.

Oregon kept their foot on the gas with a one-yard rushing touchdown by Nix with just over four minutes remaining followed just over two minutes later by a 12-yard scoring pass to sophomore Bucky Irving to go up 21-10 at the half. Coming out of the locker room, Cal couldn’t muster a response, instead giving up another touchdown. By the time the Bears could put up points, the game was well out of reach.

“There’s some things that happened at the end of the first half, at the start of the second, that if we would have performed a bit better we could have made that game very competitive. We didn’t do that and the game finished like it did,” Wilcox said.

The season doesn’t get any easier for Cal as they prepare for a two-week road stint before closing out the year with back-to-back home games. First, the Bears travel south to face the 10th-ranked USC Trojans on Nov. 5. Following that is a collision with the Oregon State Beavers on Nov. 12.

About Daniel Gluskoter

Daniel Gluskoter is the Martinez Tribune's national music and sports editor and a Bay Area photojournalist who's work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2008 Presidential campaign as a correspondent for United Press International and has travelled worldwide covering events ranging from numerous Super Bowls and Olympics to Live Aid and the Grammys.

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