Pac-12 football: Cal holds off Northwestern, 31-24

Pac-12 football: Cal holds off Northwestern, 31-24
California quarterback Jared Goff, attempting a pass in the second half, threw three touchdown passes against Northwestern on Saturday. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

Jared Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, Jalen Jefferson had a key interception, and California hung on to beat Northwestern, 31-24, Saturday in a season opener at Evanston, Ill.

The Golden Bears looked like they were on their way to an easy victory up 31-7 in the third quarter. Instead, they had to sweat this one out.


Northwestern got two touchdowns in a 25-second span late in the third to pull within 10. Jack Mitchell added a 24-yard field goal with 5:18 left in the game to make it 31-24, and the Wildcats were threatening to score again when Jefferson came up big.

With Northwestern on the California 27, he sacked Trevor Siemian for an 11-yard loss. On the next play, he picked off a tipped pass that was intended for Pierre Youngblood-Ary at the 15, and the Golden Bears came away with the win after dropping 16 straight to FBS opponents.

Coming off a 5-7 season, the Wildcats couldn't slow Cal's up-tempo offense or get anything going when they had the ball.

Goff, who threw for more than 3,500 yards as a freshman, completed 21 of 34 with an interception.

Trevor Davis caught a 76-yard touchdown. California racked up 414 yards to come away with the win after going 1-11 in Coach Sonny Dykes' first season.

No. 3 Oregon 62, South Dakota 13

Marcus Mariota threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns and ran for one more score for Oregon before sitting out the second half in Eugene, Ore.

Running back Byron Marshall was Oregon's top receiver with eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Royce Freeman, a five-star recruit out of Imperial, California, ran for 75 yards and two more scores.

The Ducks have won 10 straight home openers.

Mariota's 62-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Stanford on Oregon's first series of the game gave him the Ducks' career record for touchdowns with 79 (64 pass, 14 rush and one reception), surpassing Joey Harrington.

at No. 11 Stanford 45, UC Davis 0: Ty Montgomery returned a punt for a touchdown and caught five passes for 77 yards and another score, and the Cardinal tuned up for a date with USC next week by routing the Aggies.

The All-American kick returner, who was cleared by team doctors to play earlier this week after off-season surgery on his right shoulder, looked ready to be the Cardinal's do-it-all playmaker again. He ran his first punt back 60 yards for a TD and lined up all over the field, including once as a wildcat quarterback.

Stanford led 38-0 at the half and rested most of its starters the final two quarters.

Kevin Hogan threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns to help the two-time defending Pac-12 champions get off to a mostly smooth start. He completed 12 of 16 passes and had one interception.

Stanford's retooled defense held the Aggies to 115 total yards, forced three turnovers and sacked London Lacy four times to overwhelm the lower-tier Football Championship Subdivision team. UC Davis didn't crossed midfield until the final play of the game.

The Cardinal's first shutout since beating Colorado 48-0 on Nov. 3, 2012 showed just how far it has come since losing 20-17 at home to UC Davis in 2005.

No. 25 Washington 17, Hawaii 16

John Ross scored on a reverse and a 91-yard catch and the Huskies off Hawaii despite a weak second half in Coach Chris Petersen's debut.

The Huskies overcame late pushes from Hawaii and offensive problems late in the game, when their best accomplishment was running out the clock.

Jeff Lindquist threw for 162 yards in his first start for Washington after Cyler Miles was suspended for the game. But most of Lindquist's total came on the big play to Ross.

Washington's defense struggled early, spotting Hawaii a 10-0 lead on its first two possessions. The Rainbow Warriors lost the advantage in one quick second-quarter burst, turning the ball over on downs and then allowing the Huskies' second-longest pass play in school history.

Hawaii's Joey Iosefa rushed for 143 yards and a touchdowns.

at Oregon State 29, Portland State 14: Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion passed for 328 yards and one touchdown and rushed for another score as the Beavers rallied from a 14-13 halftime deficit to avoid a season-opening loss at home to an FCS school for the third time in four seasons.

Oregon State forced turnovers on five of Portland State's first six possessions of the second half and took the lead for good on Garrett Owen's 26-yard field goal with 10:58 to play in the third quarter.

Owens added field goals of 25, 25, 31 and 23 yards, Oregon State's Storm Woods had 16 carries for 126 yards rushing and the Beavers finished with 505 yards of offense to Portland State's 215.

Portland State backup quarterback Paris Penn finished with nine carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns for the Vikings of the Big Sky Conference, who managed only 40 yards offense in the second half.