Those tuning in to the Armed Forces Bowl on Tuesday saw a quarterback who will soon be playing his football on Sundays. Jared Goff, the second-highest rated quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft had one last game to play for the California Golden Bears before preparing to play football for a living.
Goff threw for 467 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 55-36 victory over the Air Force Falcons. California finished 8-5 and the Falcons concluded their season at 8-6.
Goff demonstrated his complete package of short and long throws that prevented Air Force from getting within striking distance after the Bears had gained control. A decisive 5-minute span of the second quarter, led by Goff, set them on the path to victory.
With the score tied 14-14, Goff connected with Darius Powe for a 5-yard touchdown with 7:37 left in the half. After an Air Force fumble, Goff found Kenny Lawler for a 24-yard strike on the first play.
With two minutes remaining, Goff and Lawler hooked up again for a 14-yard TD and a 35-21 halftime lead. Goff had 277 of his passing yards and four touchdowns by halftime.
California’s biggest lead in the second half was 24 points and the Falcons were never closer than 16.
For the Falcons’ part, they did most of their damage on the ground with 285 yards rushing. Quarterback Karson Roberts had 69 of those, including a touchdown. He also passed for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
But it was just too much Goff. His performance broke the school record for passing yards in a bowl game. Aaron Rodgers held the previous record with 394.
“The guys got open and made it a lot easier for me,” Goff said. “And when they’re that open, I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it’s not as hard as it would be if you had to fit one in there.”
Draft projections have only Memphis quarterback Paxton Miller rated ahead of Goff. Soon the speculation will begin over which one will actually go higher. Could it be another Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota?
Tuesday’s Armed Forces Bowl performance gave the 6-4, 215-pound Goff 4,252 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. Goff passed for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns over his last two games against Arizona State and Air Force.
It is a safe bet the Miami Dolphins were watching the Armed Forces Bowl closely.