Improving California opens Pac-12 play at Washington

SEATTLE (AP) Another win and California might find itself back in the Top 25 for the first time in five years.

Looking to start the season with four wins for the first time since 2007, the Golden Bears visit Washington (2-1) on Saturday to open Pac-12 Conference play.

California (3-0) survived last week against Texas, and another road victory could land them in the Top 25 for the first time since early in the 2010 season.

”Anytime guys start having success I think that means you’re having a level of success as a program,” California coach Sonny Dykes said.

While the Pac-12 is filled with intriguing games this week, one of the best quarterback matchups could be Cal’s proven veteran, Jared Goff, and Washington’s young star Jake Browning. Goff is eighth nationally in both completion percentage and passing efficiency and has thrown three touchdowns in all three games this season. He’s two TD passes shy of tying Kyle Boller’s school record of 64.

Browning has gotten better since the season opening loss at Boise State. He threw for 368 yards last week against Utah State, the most by a Washington freshman, and completed 12 straight passes during the second half including two touchdowns.

”Jake reminds me a lot of Jared coming out of high school. He’s very well-coached in high school,” Dykes said. ”When you play in that kind of offense and you make all those decisions that quarterbacks make, that helps you play earlier as a freshman.”

Goff has the added motivation of erasing a miserable game last season against Washington when the Huskies rolled to a 31-7 victory. It’s one of the few times the past two seasons the Bears simply weren’t competitive.

”It was a letdown for us. That was a big game for us to come in and defend our home. Washington just beat us down,” Cal linebacker Michael Barton said. ”They physically just destroyed us last year. We’re looking for redemption for that this year.”

Here’s what else to watch as the Bears and Huskies meet for the 96th time:

GET MOVING: Browning’s performance as a passer has grabbed attention, but the Huskies run game needs to get going. The Huskies were held to 29 yards rushing against Boise State, and then managed 74 yards against the aggressive blitzes of Utah State. Dwayne Washington has 31 yards on 14 carries through three weeks after closing out last season with three straight 100-yard games.

”I really think it’s newness, newness of some guys being out there playing together,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.

CARRY THE LOAD: If Daniel Lasco makes it through pregame warmups, he’ll be California’s starting running back. Unlike years past, the Bears have options if Lasco can’t play. Vic Enwere will likely get his second straight start if Lasco’s hip keeps him sidelined. But the star last week against Texas was Khalfani Muhammed, who ran for a career-high 164 yards on just 10 carries. Enwere added 73 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Longhorns.

”I think that whole offense has taken the next step, next level . from last year,” Petersen said. ”The line’s better, they’ve got a bunch of backs that run really hard, and (Goff)’s good.”

HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS: Washington and California have been two of the best this season in the third quarter. California is outscoring its opponents 49-0 and Washington is outscoring its opponents 45-0 in the third quarter. They are the only two teams in the Pac-12 not to allow third-quarter points yet this season.

BEAR TRAP: Washington’s performance last year against Cal was unique. The Huskies and Stanford are the only two programs to have held California under 30 points in the past 15 games. In the 13 games against teams other than Washington and Stanford, the Bears are averaging more than 43 points per game.

AP college football site: www.collegefootball.ap.org