- Associated Press - Friday, October 20, 2017

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - It says something about California’s progress this season under first-year coach Justin Wilcox that the Golden Bears are already two wins shy of becoming bowl eligible for only the second time in the last six seasons.

It says even more that Wilcox and his players greeted the news with a unified yawn.

With five games left, California isn’t content with anything just yet - including last week’s upset of Washington State.

“We have to get better from the last week and there are things we have to get cleaned up,” Wilcox said. “We have to continue to get better and, really, that’s all we’re focused on.”

Wilcox’s reasoning makes sense. The Golden Bears (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) have a slim to no chance of winning the conference. Consecutive losses to USC, Oregon and Washington took care of that.

For a team that made it to only one bowl game in four seasons under former coach Sonny Dykes, though, the possibility of making it to the postseason remains a legitimate possibility.

California can take a step closer to bowl eligibility with a win Saturday against Arizona.

“A lot of people slept on them early and they’ve shown to be a good team,” Bears linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk said of the Wildcats. “We have to treat Arizona the same we treat every single team.”

Arizona (4-2, 2-1) is also closing in on bowl eligibility after making a quarterback change. Khalil Tate has rushed for 557 yards and passed for 302 in two games since replacing Brandon Dawkins.

“I’m not totally surprised but at the same time this is the healthiest he’s been in a month and he’s playing better even than we anticipated he would,” coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He’s still learning. We’re not going to expect 200 or 300 yards rushing every week . but I love the way his mindset is right now.”

The Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in scoring (42.8 points per game) and rushing yards (342.2) while the Bears counter with a much-improved defense that tallied nine sacks and seven turnovers in the win over Washington State.

“It was unbelievable how impressive they were,” Rodriguez said.

Here are a few other things to watch for when California hosts Arizona on Saturday in the first game between the two schools since 2014:

MISSING PARTS: The Bears will be without another of their key players after learning inside linebacker Davante Davis suffered a season-ending lower body injury against the Cougars. Davis led the Pac-12 in tackles and was the conference’s only two-time player of the week this season. “We’re not going to lose his leadership,” running back Vic Enwere said. “He may not be out there but he’s still going to be just as much of a vocal leader as far as helping that side of the ball as he’s been so far.” Cal has already lost its top running back and wide receiver to season-ending injuries.

FLIPPING FOR FUN: Cal quarterback Ross Bowers gained national attention for his short touchdown run against Washington State. Bowers, whose mother was a gymnast and a college gymnastics coach, rolled to his left then leaped from the 3-yard line and flipped over a pair of defenders into the end zone. Wilcox would prefer his quarterback stay on his feet but was more than happy with the results.

EXPECT A CLOSE ONE: Arizona has won three straight against California but those victories came by a total of 10 points. In 2014, Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon threw a 47-yard Hail Mary to Austin Hill for a game-winning score as time expired.


More college football coverage: http://collegefootball.ap.org and www.Twitter.com/AP_Top25

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