BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Just in case his teammates hadn't looked
at the scoreboard recently, Ryan Riddle stepped into California's
defensive huddle and reminded them of their big zero.
"Keep it going, keep it going!" the defensive end shouted.
The Golden Bears hung on for a historic shutout,
beating Arizona State 27-0 on Saturday night.
Cal (6-1, 4-1 Pac-10) forced five turnovers -- including Tim
Mixon's 58-yard interception return for a score -- and held Andrew
Walter without a touchdown pass while posting consecutive goose
eggs for the first time since 1968.
To the coaching staff, zero is just another number -- but not to
the Cal defenders accustomed to playing in the offense's shadow.
"I was definitely aware of it," said Riddle, who had one of
the Bears' five sacks.
"I was getting everybody aware that we had to keep it going on
that last drive," he said. "That means a lot to us. I didn't know
if you could do that in the Pac-10, but we did."
J.J. Arrington rushed for 188 yards and a score, but the Bears
won with defense. Cal (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) blanked Arizona 38-0 last week before shutting down Walter and the Sun Devils' high-powered offense.
Arizona State (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) failed to score inside the 10 in the closing minutes, and Cal ran out the clock on the Sun Devils' first shutout
loss since Sept. 30, 1995.
There might be even more good news for the Bears on Sunday:
After losses by Miami and Florida State, they
seem poised to reach the top five for the first time since 1952.
"Everything is going well," Arrington said. "I'm in awe of
everything. We're having a lot of great things happen to us this
Freshman Robert Jordan caught seven passes for 116 yards and a
touchdown in his second collegiate game, but Aaron Rodgers
struggled to connect with his injury-plagued receiving corps.
Rodgers threw a touchdown pass on the Bears' first play but was
held to 165 yards passing.
So Cal relied on Arrington, who had another impressive
performance. He reached 1,000 yards faster than any player in Cal
history with his school-record seventh straight 100-yard game, and
his 1-yard TD dive in the fourth quarter put it away.
Walter passed for 238 yards for the Sun Devils (6-2, 3-2), who
got their second blowout loss in three games after starting the
season with five straight wins. Walter also failed to throw a
touchdown pass, leaving him one TD throw behind John Elway's Pac-10
career record of 77.
"Our defense was by far the bright spot of the game," Arizona
State coach Dirk Koetter said. "They did a great job with some
excellent individual efforts, but we gave them no help. Cal's a
very good football team, but we did that to ourselves."
The latest-starting game in Memorial Stadium's history was
played under four stanchions of temporary lights. Cal's 52,652
chilled fans still packed the house for Berkeley's first meeting of
ranked teams since 1993.
The Sun Devils made just two turnovers in their first five
games, but they've made 10 in the last three. Arizona State lost
four of its five fumbles, and Walter's lone interception was
returned for a score that broke open the game.
"This is done. The game is over," a disgusted Walter said. "I
don't care what happened. We have a great chance to finish 9-2, and
that would be the most wins that we've had at ASU in quite some
With veteran receivers Chase Lyman and Burl Toler sidelined by
injuries, the Bears relied heavily on Jordan, a touted prospect
expected to redshirt the season until the injuries forced his
activation last week. Jordan made several mistakes, running
incorrect routes and dropping balls, but also showed off his
"There were some things that just didn't click tonight," Cal
coach Jeff Tedford said.
But while Cal's offense briefly sputtered, Arizona State's
offense couldn't reach Cal territory until early in the third
Walter and the Sun Devils got increasingly impatient with Cal's
steady defense, trying ever more difficult passes -- until Walter
lost sight of Mixon, who stepped in front of a pass at midfield and
returned it for the first touchdown of his career.
The Sun Devils got inside the Cal 10 on Hakim Hill's 57-yard run
moments later, but Jesse Ainsworth missed a short field-goal attempt. Hill
ran for 104 yards after his mysterious benching last week.
Turnovers plagued the Sun Devils from the opening kickoff in
Berkeley when Josh Golden fumbled -- though television replays
showed he was probably down before the ball came loose. Rodgers
immediately found Jordan in the right corner of the end zone with a
perfect scoring pass just 20 seconds in.
Cal got another break moments later when Tom Schneider's 48-yard
field-goal try bounced off the crossbar, hit the television camera
between the uprights and plopped back on the field. Officials
initially ruled the kick no good and then reversed themselves after
realizing what happened.