Cal moves up to 8th in poll after 2nd blowout

Sep 13, 2009 - 7:20 PM By JOSH DUBOW AP Sports Writer

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Kevin Riley knows that California has only proved so much with its two blowout victories to open the season.

The eighth-ranked Golden Bears scored at least 50 points in their first two games for the first time in their history, following the season-opening 52-13 thrashing of Maryland with a 59-7 victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday.

Those wins came against a team that needed overtime to beat a Football Championship Subdivision team in the Terrapins and an FCS team in the Eagles. The real tests of whether this truly will be a breakthrough season for the Bears (2-0) are still ahead of them, starting next Saturday at Minnesota.

"We've won two games. We won convincingly," quarterback Kevin Riley said. "We'll start playing some better teams now on the road. Every loss we had last year was on the road. We'll have to improve on that and win some road games."

The Bears have lost four straight road games. In fact, their only road win a year ago came against Washington State, which was one of the worst teams in major college football.

But Cal feels it will be in better shape leaving home this season. If the results from the first two games are any indication, they could be right.

The Bears have topped 500 yards in each of their first two games, committing no turnovers and only eight total penalties in the span. The defense has allowed just one touchdown in each game, recording nine sacks along the way.

"We felt like we've done a lot of great things," star tailback Jahvid Best said. "We still have things to clean up but we're happy with where we're at right now."

Best is a big reason for the success. He's opened his Heisman Trophy campaign in impressive fashion, carrying the ball 27 times for 281 yards and three touchdowns the first two weeks. He has also caught a touchdown pass, while staying fresh for this upcoming difficult stretch.

Following the game against the Golden Gophers, Cal travels to Oregon and then hosts No. 3 Southern California before getting a week off. That's why it was important to iron out any potential problems these first two weeks at home.

The success of the running game was expected coming into the season with Best and Shane Vereen returning from last season behind a strong offensive line. The questions were about Riley and the passing game.

Riley struggled at times last season while sharing the quarterbacking duties with Nate Longshore. But he has looked like a different player ever since beating out Brock Mansion and Beau Sweeney for the starting job in fall camp.

Showing more poise in the pocket, Riley has completed 30 of 46 passes for 446 yards and five touchdowns. He has also run for another score while playing mistake-free football.

"Kevin's doing a nice job staying poised and didn't turn the football over," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He's running the offense the way we want him to run the offense. He has a good grasp of it and is doing a nice job. We just didn't throw the ball all that much today."

The question on defense was about a linebacking corps that lost seniors Worrell Williams, Zack Follett and Anthony Felder. But this year's group of Eddie Young, D.J. Holt, Mychal Kendricks and Mike Mohamed has even more speed than last year's and is showing the ability to make adjustments on the fly.

After struggling early against Eastern Washington's no-huddle offense and quick passing attack, the Bears dropped an extra man into coverage and essentially shut the Eagles down. They allowed no points after the first quarter and only 42 yards in the second half.

"I think it's great that we played this kind of offense," defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. "This is going to come up again. No huddle, a fast-pace, one back. We're going to see that. The more we see it the better we're going to do against it."

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