EVANSTON, Ill. — There wasn’t much for California to celebrate last season, so after starting this one off with a tight victory, the emotions spilled out.
The locker room scene was a wild one.
“It was haywire, hectic,” quarterback Jared Goff said after Cal knocked off Northwestern 31-24. “We did the ‘Bear Territory’ chant about eight times. It was an unbelievable experience and I’m looking forward to more of them.”
Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns, Jalen Jefferson had a key interception, and California hung on to beat Northwestern in the opener.
The Golden Bears looked like they were on their way to an easy victory up 31-7 in the third quarter.
Instead, they had to sweat this one out.
Northwestern got two touchdowns in a 25-second span late in the third to pull within 10.
Jack Mitchell added a 24-yard field goal with 5:18 left in the game to make it 31-24, and the Wildcats were threatening to score again when Jefferson came up big.
With Northwestern on the California 27, he sacked Trevor Siemian for an 11-yard loss.
On the next play, he picked off a tipped pass that was intended for Pierre Youngblood-Ary at the 15, and the Golden Bears came away with the win after dropping 16 straight to FBS opponents.