Cal and Oregon seeking bowl eligibility on Saturday night
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) His injury trouble behind him, Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams is back to having fun.
The heralded senior transfer got off to a disappointing start with the Ducks after breaking his index finger in the opener against his former team, Eastern Washington. Adams struggled with the injury in subsequent games before he was relegated to the sideline to heal while backup Jeff Lockie and newcomer Taylor Alie stepped in.
Adams returned two weeks ago against Washington, throwing for 272 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-20 Oregon victory. Last Thursday, he threw for 315 yards and four TDs in a 61-55 triple-overtime win at Arizona State.
Adams was named the Pac-12 offensive Player of the Week for his performance. He'll look to continue the comeback on Saturday night when the Ducks host California.
''It was definitely the best game I played here fun-wise,'' he said. ''It was really fun for myself and the team, I think. We had a great time enjoying that but now we're moving on to Cal.''
Oregon (5-3, 3-2), with losses to Michigan State, Utah and Washington State this season, sits in second place in the Pac-12 North standings with the Cougars. The Ducks will have to catch No. 9 Stanford (7-1, 6-0) if they hope to defend their Pac-12 title, but time is running short.
Oregon visits the Cardinal next week.
Like the Ducks, Cal (5-3, 2-3) needs one more victory to be bowl eligible, but the Golden Bears have lost three straight after a promising 5-0 start.
''We have to come out this week with our hair on fire and want this one like we haven't wanted any other game, and that's how they'll get it. Because I know they want this one just as bad,'' defensive lineman Mustafa Jalil said. ''Actually I take that back. They don't want this one as bad as we do. This game means a lot to us.''
Other things to consider when the Golden Bears visit the Ducks on Saturday:
SO MANY YARDS: Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns in last weekend's 27-21 loss to USC, which put him in the 10,000 yards-passing club. Goff has 10,018 yards passing and is the 92nd player in FBS history to reach the mark. He's also got a school-record 75 touchdown passes.
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said this week that he met with Goff on a recruiting visit years back. The teenager was wearing a Cal sweatshirt.
''Never a good sign,'' Helfrich said.
OTIS! MY MAN!: Otis Day and the Knights, of ''Animal House'' fame, will perform before the game on Saturday night. The classic comedy was filmed at the University of Oregon, and Autzen Stadium plays ''Shout!'' between the third and fourth quarters of every home game. Earlier this year, Nike released an ad that pays homage to the toga party scene in the movie that featured the song, with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota in John Belushi's role.
HISTORY: The series hasn't gone Cal's way of late. Oregon has a six-game winning streak over the Golden Bears, who haven't defeated the Ducks since a 26-16 victory in Strawberry Canyon in 2008. Oregon has outscored California 273-105 over that span.
ROYCE ROLLS: Oregon sophomore running back Royce Freeman has amassed 1,109 yards rushing this season, becoming the fourth RB in school history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He ranks eighth nationally with 138.6 yards a game.
''He's a great back, a step above what he did last year. They use him really well for what they do,'' Jalil said. ''Big back, hard running but I think we have a pretty big defense that's a little bit harder hitter than he is.''
THE LAST TRIP TO EUGENE: In 2013, Goff went into the game against Oregon as the nation's leader with an average of more than 435 yards passing a game, but after completing just three of six passes for 11 yards in the first quarter, he was replaced by Zach Kline. The Golden Bears lost 55-16.
But what Goff remembers most was the rain.
''I think they said it was the worst they'd ever seen. It was the worst rain that I've ever seen. I'm excited to go back up there and have another chance in Autzen and have a chance to do something special and hopefully get a win,'' he said.
By the way, the forecast calls for rain on Saturday.