Throughout the week, Da Windy City may have made light of the fact that the Northwestern Wildcats were facing an inferior team in the form of the California Golden Bears to start their season.
The Golden Bears did not play like an inferior team on Saturday.
At times in the game between Northwestern and Cal on Saturday, it appeared that the Golden Bears had control of the game.
After all, Cal knocked Wildcats’ starting quarterback Kain Colter out of the game in the first quarter.
At half time, the Golden Bears only trailed the Wildcats by a touchdown.
Every time Northwestern scored, it seemed as if the Golden Bears offense would respond with points of their own. That speaks to the general success that Cal quarterback Jared Goff had in his first career collegiate game.
Goff, at times, made mistakes that one would expect a true freshman quarterback to make; but, the Cal quarterback also showed the poise of a senior quarterback. That was no more obvious than when Goff threw touchdown passes on consecutive series in the third quarter to complete a 14-point swing for the Golden Bears as well as taking the lead from Northwestern 24-20 at the time.
However, after the two-touchdown swing, the Northwestern defense brought Goff back down to earth after Collin Ellis returned an interception for a touchdown giving the Wildcats a 27-24 lead.
Goff rebounded by orchestrating a 14-play drive that resulted in Cal tying the game at 27 with a field goal.
After opening the third quarter with a field goal, the Northwestern offense struggled in the second half. Wildcats’ quarterback Trevor Siemen threw for nearly 200 yards in the first half, however, struggled to get anything going for Northwestern in the early portions of the second half. Those struggles continued for Siemen in the opening minutes of the fourth quarters as the Wildcats offense suffered another three-and-out.
Siemen, though, proved why many view him as more than a backup quarterback. On the Wildcats second offensive series of the fourth quarter, the Northwestern quarterback led a 8-play, 82-yard drive that resulted in field goal to give Northwestern a 30-27 lead. During the drive, Siemen connected with wide receiver Dan Vitale for a 53-yard gain. The catch put Vitale over 100 receiving yards on the night.
After the field goal by Northwestern, Goff made perhaps his most crucial mistake of the game. Goff was picked off for a second time by Ellis, who returned that interception for a touchdown as well giving the Wildcats a 37-27 lead.
After a field goal by California brought game within a touchdown, Siemen was picked off by the Golden Bears defense giving the Cal offense an opportunity to tie the game. That opportunity was lost as Goff, who had over 400 yards passing on the night, threw his third interception of the game.
That turnover was converted into points as Wildcats’ running back Treyvon Green, who rushed for over 100 yards on Saturday, scored his second touchdown of the night, securing Northwestern’s victory.