EUGENE, Ore. — Brady Leaf's first career touchdown pass was a winning one.
Leaf threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to James Finley in overtime and No. 15 Oregon beat No. 23 California 27-20 on Saturday.
The Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) played their first game without starter Kellen Clemens, who is out for the season with a broken ankle. Dennis Dixon started, but it was Leaf who led them to victory in a game played in constant rain and unpredictable winds.
"They told me I'd get a series here or there, maybe, so I just prepared myself to play," said Leaf, who got the word as regulation ended that he would be playing in overtime.
California (6-3, 3-3) had a chance to win, but Tom Schneider missed a rushed, 53-yard field goal attempt as time ran out in the fourth quarter. The Bears have lost three of their last four games.
The only loss for Oregon (8-1, 5-1) has come against top-ranked USC.
Leaf, the younger brother of former Washington State star Ryan Leaf, completed 9 of 13 passes for 93 yards, while Dixon was 15-for-26 for 139 yards and a score. He threw one interception.
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti hesitated for a time when asked after the game if Dixon was still his starter after Saturday.
"I would say yes right now. I haven't seen the film. But my gut feeling is yes," Bellotti.
Marshawn Lynch ran for 189 yards on 25 carries, but it wasn't enough to carry the Golden Bears. Joe Ayoob completed just 10 of 26 passes for 88 yards. He was intercepted three times.
"They looked like two young quarterbacks, but Oregon did a good job protecting them and they made some good plays at times. They did enough in the passing game to win," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said.
Dixon hit Demetrius Williams with a 23-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter to give the Ducks a 7-0 lead. Cal evened it up after a blocked Oregon punt on Lynch's 1-yard run.
After Paul Martinez put Oregon back out in front with a 29-yard field goal, Schneider made a 21-yard field goal with 44 seconds before the half to tie it at 10.
Martinez, who missed a 37-yard attempt in the first half in wet and windy conditions, hit a 49-yard field goal to cap the first series of the second half.
After Ayoob fumbled and Oregon recovered on the Cal 18, Terrence Whitehead ran it in on the next play to make it 20-10.
Schneider's 45-yard field goal narrowed it again for Cal, before Lynch broke away with a 52-yard touchdown run to tie it at 20. Schneider's miss as time ran out sent the game into overtime, and Cal was unable to move the ball after Oregon scored.
"I got it up. I didn't quite get a line from the wind," Schneider said of the miss. "It started up the middle and fell off at the end."
It was Leaf's first touchdown pass, and Finley's first TD catch.
"James calls himself 'The Fat Man,' he says he catches anything around him," Leaf said. "I knew if I got it in his area he'd get it for me."
Watching from the sidelines on crutches was Clemens, who has been made an undergraduate assistant coach so that he can help Dixon and Leaf.
Clemens fractured his left ankle in Oregon's 28-21 win at Arizona on Oct. 22 and underwent surgery. He finishes with 61 touchdown passes for his career, one short of Danny O'Neil's school record (1991-94).
Bellotti believed Dixon was shaken on his first touchdown pass, when he was hit hard. He also thought the sophomore had some first-time starter jitters.
"I think anytime you get the first start and you're ordained 'the guy,' there's a little bit more pressure," Bellotti said.
Ayoob was heckled by fans after the Bears lost 23-20 at home to Oregon State, but the next week he completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins with 1:50 left for 42-38 victory on Oct. 22 over Washington State.
Both Oregon and Cal were coming off byes.
Lynch and Justin Forsett were both averaging 108-plus yards rushing going into the game. But Oregon held Forsett to just 32 yards on six carries.
Whitehead ran for 119 yards, for his 10th game with 100-plus yards, and caught eight passes for 72 yards.
The Golden Bears have not won in Eugene since 1987. They had a seven-game losing streak overall until a 28-27 home win over the Ducks last season.