BERKELEY — Twice in the opening 16 minutes, California was on the verge of scoring a touchdown when a fumble near the goal line ended a promising drive.
For a team with a porous defense and shattered confidence, that proved far too much to overcome.
Connor Halliday threw for 521 yards and three touchdowns in the second most prolific passing game in school history and Washington State used its highest scoring conference game in 10 years to snap an eight-game skid against California with a 44-22 victory Saturday.
The early lost fumbles by Daniel Lasco and Brendan Bigelow put the Golden Bears (1-4, 0-2) in a hole they could never escape.
“We are a fragile football team,” coach Sonny Dykes said. “When you are a fragile football team and you fumble your first possession of the game after putting a decent drive together, it takes a toll on you.”
It's been a rough start to Dykes' tenure at Cal as his only win has come against lower-division Portland State. The Bears have lost nine straight games against FBS opponents since beating Washington State Oct. 13, 2012 — longest skid of any team in a BCS conference.
“After a game like this, our confidence is going to be low,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “That's just how it works.”
Goff threw for 489 yards and two touchdowns for his third 400-yard passing game already this season and Chris Harper had 13 catches for 216 yards and a score. But it wasn't enough nearly enough on a day that saw Cal's thin roster get even more depleted.
The Bears began the day by announcing that starting center Chris Adcock was out for the year with a knee injury and safety Alex Logan retired for medical reasons. Then the Bears lost cornerback Stefan McClure (knee) and linebacker Jalen Jefferson (head) in the first half and cornerback Joel Willis was taken off on a stretcher after the opening kick to the second half.
Halliday bounced back after getting knocked out of last week's loss to Stanford to lead TD drives on the first two possessions for the Cougars (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12).