BERKELEY -- Having emerged from its season-opening gauntlet with a predictable record but few style points, the Cal football team now must show it can beat a Pac-12 Conference opponent.

That starts Saturday at home against a Washington State team coming off a thrashing at the hands of Stanford.

The Bears will move forward without junior defensive end Chris McCain, dismissed from the team Sunday because of "conduct detrimental to the team," the school announced.

Coach Sonny Dykes said he would have no comment on the matter until after practice Monday. A source said McCain, an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick a year ago, was not let go because of academic issues or trouble with the law.

It's the latest hurdle for the Bears, whose 1-3 start is no surprise, given that their schedule included games against three Top-25 opponents, two of them ranked among the nation's five best teams.

But Cal's past three performances have been increasingly troublesome, and its' 55-16 drubbing at the hands of No. 2 Oregon at rain-soaked Autzen Stadium was never competitive.

"It was just about as bad a performance as you could have in a lot of ways. That falls on me," Dykes said Saturday night.

With the Ducks, Northwestern and Ohio State in the rearview mirror, the Bears begin a stretch of games that includes four home dates that at one time seemed manageable for this young team.


Advertisement

Now it's difficult to project what this team might be capable of achieving. Its defense ranks third-to-last nationally, allowing 45.3 points per game. Its special teams, solid for three games, allowed the Ducks two long punt returns for touchdowns.

And the Bear Raid offense, which produced 33.7 points per game through three weeks, didn't score at Oregon until Vincenzo D'Amato's 46-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

Freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who entered the weekend as the nation's total offense leader, could not even grip the football in the swirling rainstorm, accounting for two of Cal's four lost fumbles in the first quarter.

Dykes pulled Goff late in the quarter in favor of redshirt freshman Zach Kline, who was 18 for 37 for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Giving Goff a quick hook seemed like the right thing to do, Dykes said, but doesn't represent a permanent change.

"Just felt like we weren't getting anything done," he said. "I would think Jared would be our starting quarterback."

The Bears have other problems, including a growing injury list. X-rays on starting cornerback Kam Jackson's lower leg were clear, but his status is unsure. Freshman running back Khalfani Muhammad left the game woozy with a head injury that seems likely to shelve him for at least a week.