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Instant Analysis: Northwestern 44, Cal 30
Posted Sep 1, 2013

The CFNers weigh in on Northwestern's wild win over California.

E-mail Rich Cirminiello
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There are losses, and then there are losses.

Cal dropped a game to a very good Northwestern squad, a veteran Wildcats team that's going to make a lot of noise in the Big Ten this fall. But even in losing the fourth quarter, it's clear that this is going to be a very different Bears team than the one Jeff Tedford oversaw for the past decade.

Cal looked tonight as if it did a swift job of embracing new head man Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid system. It was potent and precise through the air, with true freshman Jared Goff at the controls. Goff, by the way , may have been the surprise choice of Dykes, but he clearly looks like the right choice to operate the system for the foreseeable future. Save for a costly late interception, the young quarterback was poised much of the night, pitching strikes to Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper, and showing good feet outside the pocket. Goff's two pick-sixes were on tipped balls.

The Bears lost a heartbreaker in Berkeley, yet all was not lost on this night. Cal finally looks to have a northerly direction, one that will keep improving as the young kids get more reps in a new system.

E-mail Bart Doan
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Dykes’ tikes put up fight, but falter

Football is at the crossroads at all levels. Paying out nearly $800 million in a concussion settlement at the highest level tends to have that trickle-down effect. No more was it on display than in the fourth quarter when Cal standout pass rusher Chris McCain was ejected for what would have been considered a fairly innocuous hit on Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian, backed up into his own end zone.

A bow later, McCain was gone, and Northwestern was inside the Cal 15, buoyed by some penalty yards digging them out of their own end. It led to a field goal. A few plays later, Collin Ellis turned in his second defensive touchdown, and the gas was fully siphoned out of the Cal crowd.

Calls in and of themselves don’t typically end games, but they do change the arc of them. The raucous Cal crowd and team were hopping in ways not seen in the later years of Jeff Tedford's tenure, and it’s clear Sonny Dykes has brought a more aesthetically pleasing, polished brand of football to Berkeley. The atmosphere was mostly electric. Until that call.

McCain, half blonde, half not, took a bow as he was ushered off the field for an ejection more befitting a rec league flag football game, and with it, Cal bowed out. No, the call didn’t win or lose the football game. Letting by a long bomb afterwards, allowing two defensive touchdowns allowed, and showing a bit of inexperience all played a role. But the more arbitrary, opinionated control referees have, the more games we see change not on a hard hit, a blown coverage, or a stripped ball … but by the deflating calls of the zebras. Damn shame. Campus Insiders