BERKELEY, Calif. -- Jared Goff is projected to be a first-round pick in the NFL if he decides to forgo his senior season at California.
For now the Golden Bears junior will have to settle for being one of the best quarterbacks in the college ranks -- and for getting Cal to its first bowl game since 2011.
Goff overcame a sluggish start to pass for six touchdowns and 453 yards to help California beat Oregon State 54-24 on Saturday night and end the Golden Bears' four-game losing streak.
Goff misfired on Cal's first two drives but bounced back nicely while helping Cal get the much-needed victory that makes Coach Sonny Dykes' team bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.
"The whole atmosphere is really awesome right now, I'm just trying to enjoy it," Goff said. "It's kind of a culmination of three years of hard work since coach Dykes got here, since I got here, since a lot of us got here. I've said a million times . all work we put in was going to pay off eventually. By no means are we done. "
The Bears' career leader in nearly every passing category, Goff completed 26 of 37 passes while helping Cal (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) pile up a school-record 760 yards in offense.
"It just shows how important it is for us to be able to protect him and keep him upright," Dykes said. "When we do that we're a very good offense. When we don't it's a bit of a struggle."
Oregon State struggled despite a solid game from backup quarterback Nick Mitchell. The redshirt freshman threw for two touchdowns and ran in another for Oregon State before getting knocked out of the game late in the third quarter.
The Beavers (2-8, 0-7) have lost seven straight.
"We had a hard time playing together as a team," Oregon State coach Gary Andersen said. "When one side was playing well, the other side played poor. It just kept going back and forth."
Goff, who had sub-par performances in back-to-back losses to USC and Oregon, completed only one of his first five attempts -- two of which were dropped -- before engineering three long touchdown drives in the first half.
Goff threw a 4-yard touchdown to Kenny Lawler, completed a 51-yard pass to help set up Vic Enware's 1-yard scoring run, then got a big lift from seldom-used running back Tre Watson on Cal's third touchdown.
Watson caught a short pass from Goff in the left flat, cut back across the field then raced down the sidelines and broke two tackles on his way to the end zone to complete the 45-yard score.
Goff padded his total in the third quarter with a pair of touchdown passes to Maurice Harris, from 13 and 29 yards, to push the Bears lead to 44-18. He rounded out his night with an 11-yard scoring toss to 300-pound, freshman halfback Malik McMorris in the fourth.
"We practice that play all the time, we just haven't had a chance to run it in a game," Goff said. "I kind of got excited because I knew with what they were doing defensively, he was going to probably be left alone."
It's the seventh time in his career that Goff has thrown at least four touchdown passes, and the third in which he has five or more.
The six touchdown passes in regulation tie Goff's school record. He had seven in a double-overtime win against Colorado on Sept. 27, 2014.
Matt Anderson added two field goals in the Bears' highest scoring game since a season-opening 73-14 win over Grambling State.
Cal needed it to pull out of its month-long tailspin.
Oregon State, which hadn't lost at Memorial Stadium since 1997, couldn't keep up.
Mitchell, making his fourth start in place of injured Seth Collins, threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Villamin just before the half to pull the Beavers within 24-10 before Cal pulled away in the third quarter.
It was a rough night all around for Mitchell, who was knocked out of the game following a helmet-to-helmet hit by Cal linebacker Jalen Jefferson. Mitchell had just thrown a 3-yard touchdown pass to Noah Togiai when he was hit.
AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org
Georgia State AD Charlie Cobb replaces Terry Mohajir on CFP selection committee
Georgia State AD Charlie Cobb has been added to the College Football Playoff selection committee on a one-year basis in place of Terry Mohajir, who is no longer on the panel after leaving Arkansas St. to become the athletic director at UCF.
Who will be the Mac Jones of the 2021 college football season?
Mac Jones' strong finish to 2019 foreshadowed big things for 2020, and the Alabama signal caller delivered beyond anyone's expectations. Who can fill that role in 2021?
Outfielder and ESPN Junior 300 QB Kaden Martin commits to play baseball at Miami
Kaden Martin, the son of former Tennessee quarterback and coach Tee Martin, is committed to the Hurricanes as primarily a baseball recruit, although he wants to try to play football too.
Despite no combine, NFL releases complete list of 323 prospects who merited invites
With the 2021 NFL combine canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league has released a list of players who would have merited invitations. Ohio State's 14 invites were the most for any school, followed by Georgia with 12.
Overlooked college football recruits who blossomed into stars
Breece Hall and Desmond Ridder weren't the only top college football players last season to outplay early expectations.
Texas president Jay Hartzell addresses song controversy, says those targeting players 'do not represent the values of the Longhorn community'
While a committee finalizes a report on the future of Texas' position on its much-debated school song, university president Jay Hartzell responded on Tuesday to critics "who target our students with hateful views."