by Rob Moseley
With two fumbles, No. 2 Oregon's streak of three games without a turnover ended in Saturday's 55-16 win over visiting California.
The UO defense, however, did more than enough to keep the Ducks' turnover margin in the black. Oregon intercepted a pass and recovered four fumbles — all on Cal's first six possessions of the night — to chase freshman quarterback Jared Goff and dominate what had been one of the nation's most prolific offenses.
The Golden Bears entered Saturday with the nation's No. 2 passing offense, and ranked ninth in the country in total offense with 555.7 yards per game. Against Oregon, Cal managed just 325 yards, a third-quarter touchdown after the Ducks muffed a punt and another in the fourth after a UO penalty negated a fifth Cal fumble.
"I knew we were going to force a lot of turnovers, but the weather definitely helped," UO linebacker Boseko Lokombo said of a game played in near monsoon conditions. "I thought overall the defense played pretty good."
Lokombo had one of three forced fumbles for the UO defense, while DeForest Buckner both forced one and recovered another. The Golden Bears fumbled on each of their first four possessions of the game.
A year after leading the country with 40 takeaways, the Ducks have 11 through four games in 2013. That total includes Ifo Ekpre-Olomu's interception Saturday, his first pass defended of the season.
Last fall, Ekpre-Olomu had 20, sixth nationally and first in the conference.
"It feels great to make a play for your team," said Ekpre-Olomu, who nearly had one at Virginia earlier this season. "I got the first one out of the way; that's always the tough one.
"This time I just wanted to make sure I was able to pull the ball in and finish the play."
Goff, who led the nation with 433.7 passing yards per game entering Saturday, played only four series against the Ducks. He was 3-of-6 passing for 11 yards, was sacked twice and lost two fumbles.
Zach Kline replaced Goff and finished 18-of-37 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. He led Cal to a field goal on the final play of the first half to make the score 41-3, directed a 25-yard touchdown drive after a UO fumble in the third quarter and threw his scoring pass with 3:02 left in the game.
Cal's big-play receiver tandem of Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs combined for just five receptions for 46 yards.
"They put them in situations where if we were able to run to the ball, we'd be able to make plays," Ekpre-Olomu said. "They run a lot of screens, and I thought we were able to take advantage."
Lokombo said the Ducks didn't do anything special to disrupt Goff in his first career start on the road.
"Our job was just to maintain and eliminate big plays," Lokombo said.
Backup linebacker Joe Walker led the Ducks with nine tackles, recovering from a couple of missed tackles in Oregon's previous game against Tennessee. True freshman Torrodney Prevot also had a couple highlight moments, twice tipping passes after charging into the Cal backfield.