10:00 PM ET, October 30, 2004
Memorial Stadium, BERKELEY, CA
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 year."
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 time."
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 potential.
"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 quarter.
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.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-15||9-19|
|4th Down Conversions||2-3||0-0|
|TD||14:50||ROBERT JORDAN 24 YD PASS FROM AARON RODGERS (TOM SCHNEIDER KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 24 yards.
|FG||9:00||TOM SCHNEIDER 48 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 41 yards.
|FG||0:10||TOM SCHNEIDER 42 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 47 yards.
|TD||11:13||TIM MIXON 58 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (TOM SCHNEIDER KICK)||0||20|
|TD||10:43||J.J. ARRINGTON 1 YD RUN (TOM SCHNEIDER KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 13 yards.