Justin Wilcox

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No. 23 Cal gets crazy last-second goal-line stand as time runs out on Ole Miss

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How many teams have beaten a top 25 team on the road and added a road win against an SEC team this season? No. 23 Cal (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) has after picking up a 28-20 victory at Ole Miss on Saturday. Chase Garbers passed for 344 yards and four touchdowns. But this one was all about how the game ended.

With no timeouts, Ole Miss was held short of the goal line on the final play of the game. Clock management, to put it kindly, was not ideal for the Rebels. Ole Miss ran successive running plays without a chance to stop the clock in the final minute. Without a chance to dial up a different play, Ole Miss tried pushing across the goal line for a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion, but the Bears stood firm.

The biggest blow of the game from Cal was a 60-yard touchdown to a streaking Jake Tonges midway through the third quarter. Cal had taken a 21-13 lea don Ole Miss on their previous offensive series, and the defense forced a quick three-and-out to get the ball right back. On 2nd & 10 from the Cal 40-yard line, Garbers and Tonges connected on the pass attempt and Tonges ran away from a pair of stumbling Ole Miss defenders and had enough gas to reach the end zone before anyone could catch him.

Ole Miss had a chance to make things closer in the fourth quarter but opted to try a 29-yard field goal from the Cal 2-yard line on 4th & Goal. Similar to the decision of Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi last week against Penn State, this decision by head coach Matt Luke backfired in a big way when Luke Logan missed the short field goal attempt.

Cal is now 4-0. They have completed their non-conference schedule with a 3-0 record against UC Davis, North Texas and Ole Miss. Cal also picked up a win on the road against Washington (who was No. 14 at the time). Next up for Cal will be a home game against Arizona State in what is suddenly a fairly significant game in Pac-12 play. Arizona State also entered this week 3-0 with a game against Colorado coming up later tonight). Cal’s defense gave up some yards and plays against Ole Miss, but Cal is looking to be a team to keep an eye on in the Pac-12. Cal is 4-0 for the first time under head coach Justin Wilcox and the first time since 2015.

Ole Miss will get a bye week to rest up for their next game on the schedule. They’ll need it. Ole Miss travels to Alabama in two weeks.

Cal DB Bryce Turner hospitalized for medical emergency

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Cal defensive back Bryce Turner is in a hospital after a medical emergency, according to a statement from Turner’s family, as of Thursday afternoon.

“Bryce has been hospitalized after suffering a medical emergency near his family home in southern California,” a statement from Turner’s family said, as relayed by Cal’s football program via Twitter. “We are grateful to those who have cared for Bryce and the doctors who continue to closely monitor him in the hospital.”

“Our positive thoughts, prayers and energy are with Bryce and his family,” Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said in a released statement. “We are thankful to the medical professionals who have cared for Bryce and continue to monitor his condition. We will do everything we can to support Bryce and his family during this difficult time.”

A tweet shared by Cal cornerback Traveon Beck from New Year’s Eve noted he was visiting “my guy Bryce” in the hospital. The nature of the circumstances revolving around the emergency have not been disclosed as the Turner family is asking for privacy at this time. A report from Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com says the emergency occurred during a workout on Sunday.

Turner, a redshirt sophomore last season, appeared in one game against Idaho State and recorded one tackle.

Air quality concerns grow for Friday night game between Cal and Washington State

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Raging wildfires in California continue to do serious damage in northern California. Concerns about the air quality are on the rise and that poses a threat to the health and safety of anyone attending Friday night’s Pac-12 game between Cal and Washington State. For now, there is no reason to call of or reschedule the game or transplant it to another location, but the Pac-12 and Cal are monitoring the situation as best they can to be prepared to make any adjustments necessary.

“There’s a level that they keep us updated on and what’s appropriate to work out in, so we were good,” Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said, per The Mercury News. “Obviously, (we’re) watching that and monitoring constantly.

According to NCAA guidelines, all athletes should be removed from the field if the air quality rating is 200 or above. As of Wednesday, the AQI in Berkley, California was 187. Per the NCAA, all athletes should be closely monitored in environments with an AQI rating over 150.

Stanford is also paying close attention to the air quality as they prepare for a Saturday night game against Oregon. As of now, Stanford expects their game to be on as scheduled against the Ducks.

Air quality issues were monitored earlier this season on the west coast, but no Pac-12 teams needed to adjust their schedules, although Oregon did re-locate a practice to a safer location.

The wildfires sweeping through northern California have claimed 24 lives so far.

Former USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox joins Wisconsin staff

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Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator role is no longer vacant. The Badgers have announced the hiring of Justin Wilcox to be the new defensive coordinator under Paul Chryst. The hiring is pending approval from the Board of Regents, which is just a formality at this point. Wilcox spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator at USC, the program the Badgers beat in the Holiday Bowl last season.

“During my many conversations with numerous football people that I trusted, one name kept surfacing, Justin Wilcox,” Chryst said. “I am very happy that we were able to get a quality coach like Justin to join our staff. I think he’s a great fit for Wisconsin and this program is a great fit for him. His addition makes us better. He has tremendous experience at some big-time schools and has coached some really good players. He does a great job putting his players in the best situations so they can be successful.”

Wilcox will replace Dave Aranda, who was hired by LSU to fill the same role in Baton Rouge. Wilcox will take over a Wisconsin defense that has tended to be very solid over the years but always seems to be overlooked by splashier teams. Wisconsin ranked second in the nation in total defense and led the nation in scoring defense last season. Wisconsin’s defense may not have many household names, but the Badgers have established a track record of having solid defensive skills, although those defenses have been overpowered against top opponents like Ohio State in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game and by Alabama in the 2015 season opener. Wilcox should be able to do some good things in Madison though, and he should manage to have some early success in the Big Ten West Division.

Wisconsin adds an experienced defensive coordinator in Wilcox as well. Wilcox has served as a defensive coordinator for the past 10 years between four programs; Boise State, Tennessee, Washington and USC.