Cal offense explodes in 58-21 rout of North Texas
Cal blasted North Texas 58-21 on Saturday to open the 2023 season.
It was the best offensive performance for a Golden Bears team in years. In Jake Spavital’s debut as the Cal offensive coordinator, the Bears scored their most points in a first half (33) since 2016 — the last time Spavital served as the team’s OC. When it was all said and done, Cal had its best offensive output (669 yards of total offense) in eight seasons and it’s most points in a game since 2015.
“We expected to come out and play well,” said Justin Wilcox. “To say you’re going to have 669 yards of offense every week is not realistic, but we have some good players and we felt like we matched up well and should have been able to move the ball on them. Spav and all of those coaches and players on that side of the ball contributed today. It was a big day for them.”
First-year quarterback Sam Jackson V threw his first career touchdown pass on his first pass attempt for the Bears — a 23-yard dart to Jeremiah Hunter.
On the board first. 🎯
— Cal Football (@CalFootball) September 2, 2023
The former TCU quarterback transferred to Cal this offseason and quickly cemented himself as the top option. But Jackson was forced out of the game early in the second quarter following a short run.
Jackson was replaced by NC State transfer Ben Finley, who kept the offense humming the rest of the day. Finley completed 24 of his 34 passes for a career-best 279 yards and a touchdown. Jackson finished with 33 yards on 3-of-4 passing and added 18 rushing yards.
Sophomore running back Jaydn Ott exploded for 188 yards rushing with two touchdowns. That included a 66-yarder up the gut in the second quarter. Ott’s understudy, Isaiah Ifanse, tied a career-high with three rushing touchdowns in his Cal debut.
The game was back-and-forth through the first half, but Cal’s defense really settled in after the halftime break. In the second half, North Texas produced just 9 yards of total offense on 17 plays.
Cal’s offense helped. It ran 50 plays, gained 303 yards, and scored 25 points. The Bears held the ball for 24 of the 30 second-half minutes and blanked North Texas. The Mean Green had six possessions — two ended in interceptions, two ended with three-and-outs, and two ended on downs.
The Bears host Auburn next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.