Gophers defense exploited in first loss
By Greg Beacham
BERKELEY, Calif. -- DeSean Jackson almost chuckled as he lined up against Minnesota's single coverage. One play-action fake and 40 yards later, the speedy California receiver reached over his shoulder to grab Nate Longshore's perfect touchdown pass.
Cal's offense was supposed to score this impressively -- and after a false start in last week's season-opening loss, everything was just as good as the Golden Bears expected.
Jackson caught three of Longshore's four touchdown passes in the first half, and No. 22 Cal rebounded from its Tennessee debacle with a 42-17 victory over the frustrated Gophers on Saturday.
Marshawn Lynch rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and Jackson caught seven passes for 114 yards, including that 48-yard pass that fell straight into his arms. Jackson, the sophomore who led the Bears last season with seven TD catches, already has four in the first two games this year, along with a handful of spectacular nonscoring grabs.
"Our tight ends and receivers, you've got to respect us a little more than that," Jackson said. "(That catch) was like taking candy from a baby."
Indeed, the Bears (1-1) showed off all the offensive talent that attracted their highest preseason ranking in 54 years before their 35-18 defeat in Knoxville, knocking them 13 spots down the poll.
"You knew they were some good backs," Minnesota linebacker John Shevlin said. "I'm not an NFL scout, but these guys could be making millions soon."
Dominic Jones returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score for the Gophers (1-1), whose 17-game winning streak against nonconference opponents -- longest in the Big Ten -- ended.
The Bears were the first ranked nonconference opponent in coach Glen Mason's cupcake-filled 10 seasons at Minnesota, which beat lowly Kent State 44-0 last week and faces Temple and Division I-AA North Dakota State later.
Lynch fumbled and committed a foolish personal foul, but the Heisman-hyped tailback also had 27 carries while wearing down Minnesota's defense. The Gophers yielded 531 yards -- 371 in the first half -- in the schools' first meeting in 19 years.
"If you're going to play tackle football, then you have to tackle," Mason said. "That was our biggest mistake. We didn't get them on the ground. I can't remember when we tackled worse in a ballgame."
The offense wasn't much better, failing to get in the end zone after Alex Daniels' TD plunge capped a 71-yard drive just 3 1/2 minutes in. Daniels rushed for 78 yards and a score, while Bryan Cupito went 21-for-33 for 243 yards with two interceptions by star Cal cornerback Daymeion Hughes.