Top 5 upsets in recent Cal football history

Alice Langford/File

On Saturday at Memorial Stadium, the Cal football team pulled off an upset over previously No. 11 Texas. But how does this win stack up against other unexpected Bear victories? Check out our top five upsets in recent school history:

  1. Oct. 6, 2012: Cal beats No. 25 UCLA 43-17

Hindsight is 20/20, and with an offense led by C.J. Anderson and Keenan Allen, any Cal fan in 2016 would call this a gimme. But that wasn’t quite the case in 2012, as the Bears had kicked off the season just 1-4, making UCLA the prohibitive favorite in the matchup. The defense did a number on UCLA redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, however, picking him off four times and sacking him five times. Conversely, Cal quarterback Cal Zack Maynard threw for four touchdowns, two of which were caught by Allen.

  1. Oct. 5, 2002: Cal beats No. 12 Washington 34-27

After a losing streak that lasted 25 years and 19 games, the 2002 Bears finally bested Washington. That day in Husky Stadium, Cal quarterback Kyle Boller threw for a career-high five touchdown passes, as compared with Cody Pickett’s — the number two passer in college football at the time — two interceptions. Boller called it “the best game I’ve ever played, high school or college”. This unlikely win seemed to catalyze a short era of dominance for Cal in this matchup, as they won five of the next seven in the following years.

  1. Sept. 17, 2016: Cal beats No. 11 Texas 50-43

In case you stayed inside all day Saturday, looking at no social media whatsoever, Cal beat No. 11 Texas at home. Cal running back Vic Enwere was the source of some late-game controversy with what was very nearly a fumble recovery for Texas, but the Bears managed to hold on. Not only was this game the Longhorns’ first loss of the season, but also Cal’s first victory against a ranked opponent since UCLA in 2012 (see number 5). On top of that, this loss for Texas causes a significant disruption in the already messy Big 12 playoff picture.

  1. Nov. 22, 1986: Cal beats No. 16 Stanford 17-11

In just about every way they could be, the odds were stacked against Cal in the 1986 Big Game. Head coach Joe Kapp had been shown the door three weeks prior, and true freshman quarterback Troy Taylor was manning the starting spot for the first time all season. Stanford, meanwhile, was 7-2 and bound for the Gator Bowl, led by head coach Jack Elway, son of John Elway. In the fourth quarter, Cal went up 17-3 on a pitch play for a 47 yard touchdown. Stanford’s subsequent touchdown and two-point conversion proved not enough to pull out the win.

  1. Sept. 27, 2003: Cal beats No. 3 USC 34-31

This game had all the makings of a wild upset — turnovers, missed field goals and injuries to key players. After Cal took a 21-7 lead into the half, USC fought its way back, blocking two Cal field goals and scoring one of its own to send the game to overtime. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had gone down with a variety of injuries, but replacement Reggie Robertson led the Cal offense to a quickly answered touchdown in second overtime. Finally, in triple overtime, Cal kicker Tyler Fredrickson seized his opportunity at redemption from his previous blunders, sending the Bears up 34-31 and solidifying the greatest recent upset in Cal football history.

Contact Adriana Ghiozzi at [email protected].