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BERKELEY -- This is the exhale weekend on Cal's football schedule, a game against FCS-level Portland State in a detour from the steady diet of FBS opponents.

Since 2005, the Golden Bears have played six teams from what once was called NCAA Division I-AA and have won all six by a combined score of 307-72.

Still, first-year Cal coach Sonny Dykes said his team won't sleep on the visitors from the Big Sky Conference. "There's not any layups in football anymore," he said.

Coming off a 44-30 opening loss to Northwestern, the Bears need a victory to validate what they did well against a Top-25 opponent. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 450 yards -- more than any true freshman in Pac-12 history and five more than he had Saturday after official statistics were updated this week.

The Bears also need some momentum headed into the toughest two-game stretch of their season -- at home vs. No. 3 Ohio State next Saturday and at No. 2 Oregon two weeks later to open Pac-12 play.

"It's a huge game ... just to find a way to win," Dykes said. "When you had a disappointing year, like these guys had last year, and you're young, it's a process learning how to win."

Dykes insists his respect for Portland State is more than a motivational ploy. He points to last weekend, when seven FCS teams knocked off FBS opponents, headlined by Eastern Washington's 49-46 upset of No. 25 Oregon State.

EWU became just the third FCS team to defeat a ranked FBS team.


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Dykes, who won 17 games the past two seasons at Louisiana Tech in the football backwater of Ruston, La., said there are enough good players for everyone. Singling out Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, who accounted for six touchdowns against Oregon State, Dykes said, "Tell me that guy couldn't play anywhere in the country."

Portland State coach Nigel Burton's team opened with a 57-17 win over NAIA opponent Eastern Oregon. But he isn't sure the success of other FCS teams will help Saturday.

"Not much, unless Eastern Washington is going to come play a half for us," said Burton, who was impressed by Cal's opening game. "You saw in the early stages what Coach Dykes wants to do. They have the weapons and the speed to be very scary in that conference."

For more on Cal sports, see the Bear Talk blog at ibabuzz.com/beartalk. Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.