Justin Herbert’s final on-field reunion with longtime family friend Justin Wilcox will be in the national spotlight.
No. 13 Oregon’s game against No. 15 California on Saturday, Oct. 5, is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start at Autzen Stadium on Fox.
The Ducks (3-1, 1-0) have some extra time to prepare for the Bears (4-0, 1-0) with a bye this week. Cal hosts Arizona State on Friday at Memorial Stadium (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
Herbert, the former Sheldon High standout, completed 79.2 percent of his passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns during Oregon’s 21-6 road win at Stanford last Saturday.
“I think we’re a much more mature team. We’ve got some guys that have been around here before and they know how it works,” Herbert said when asked about the Ducks bouncing back from the devastating loss to Auburn on opening night. “It’s just a mature group of guys that are playing this year.”
During last year’s 42-24 win over then-No. 24 Cal in Berkeley, Calif., Herbert passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Both Travis Dye (115 yards, one touchdown) and CJ Verdell (106 yards) rushed for over 100 yards.
“He’s such a fantastic player, arguably the best quarterback in the country,” Wilcox, who is from Junction City and used to play in backyard football games with a young Herbert during the holidays, said at the Pac-12 media day event in July. “He really doesn’t have a weakness in his game. It’s exciting to play against guys like that. We know it will take our best.”
Wilcox, a former Oregon defensive back, has consistently outperformed outside expectations since being hired as Cal’s coach before the 2017 season.
The Bears, picked to finish fifth in the North Division in the preseason media poll, are the Pac-12’s only undefeated team.
Cal’s defense is allowing 17.3 points per game (27th in the FBS) and 366.5 yards per game (61st).
Quarterback Chase Garbers passed for 357 yards and four touchdowns during last week’s 28-20 win at Mississippi.
Oregon’s defense is off to a historic start under first-year coordinator Andy Avalos, ranking eighth in points allowed (10.5 per game), 13th in yards allowed (262.8 per game), 10th in tackles for loss (8.25 per game) and fifth in interceptions (six).
The Ducks haven’t allowed a touchdown in the 42 drives since Auburn, now ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, scored the game-winning touchdown with nine seconds left.
Herbert is completing 74.4 percent of his passes this season with 1,127 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Oregon is 22nd in passing yards (304.0 per game) and 27th in scoring offense (38.5 ppg).
“Well, they’re having fun now. They’re having fun but having fun because they’re executing,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said of his team. “That’s part of it. They’re having fun with their performance, their intensity, but having fun because they’re having a lot of success.”
Two Oregon players earned Pac-12 awards at their respective positions — left tackle Penei Sewell is the conference’s offensive lineman of the week and Gus Cumberlander is the conference’s defensive lineman of the week.
Sewell, a sophomore, was the highest graded offensive lineman in the Pac-12 for the second consecutive week by Pro Football Focus and tied for the team lead with five knockdown blocks against Stanford.
Cumberlander, a senior defensive end, finished with 1.5 sacks and three tackles as Oregon held its third consecutive opponent out of the end zone.
Cal linebacker Evan Weaver is the Pac-12 defensive player of the week after tying the program’s single game record with 22 tackles against Ole Miss.
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