Bears appear bowl-bound, but not blue-ribbon

Get ready for a December road trip, ladies and gentlemen — Cal is going bowling again.

This is not a shocking projection, as the Bears are not going to a high-level bowl. No, this team is shaping up to be a sliver above average, which is enough for the players to still get free electronics and other assorted swag.

A month ago, someone could have easily glanced down the Bears’ schedule and predicted a three-game losing streak. Sure, it was the first time a Jeff Tedford-coached team had started off conference play 0-3, but that wasn’t a damning indictment of this team.

Cal’s Pac-12 slate kicked off with Washington (a team that is about to have its best season in over a decade), Oregon (a team that is better than all but four or five others in the country) and USC (a team that has had Cal’s number for nearly a decade).

The Bears will not have to go above and beyond to ensure a bowling trip. (The overwhelming number of bowl games means that not many teams in the country do, but that’s another matter entirely.) They will be favored to win their next three games — they need only two for eligibility.

Let’s look at the rest of the schedule.

Oct. 29, at UCLA: Brawl suspensions mean that the Bruins will be missing four receivers from a barely existent pass attack. Cal just stuffed the Pac-12’s third-best tailback to two yards through three quarters. ESPN Gameday is going to Los Angeles, not Pasadena — local TV has yet to pick up this 4 p.m. thriller.

Nov. 5, vs. Washington State: If the Bears lose again before the Big Game, this could be the game. The Cougs have two good-not-great quarterbacks and were just run over by what was a one-win Oregon State team, but they simply feel like a team that will sneak up on someone at some point. Dim playoff hopes mean Paul Wulff’s squad could get up for this one after letting Cal escape Pullman last year.

Nov. 12, vs. Oregon State: For a while, the Beavers looked like the worst team in FBS football. They’re better than that, but unless Mike Riley really does have some special magic against Cal — he’s 6-2 against Tedford — the Bears could have a tough time blowing this one at home.

Nov. 19, at Stanford: In the Cardinal’s 65-21 decimation of Washington, Andrew Luck passed for fewer yards than Zach Maynard. This is scary for the fact that, A) the world now makes slightly less sense, and B) Stanford can blow out ranked teams without relying on its best player.

The Cardinal just broke a school record with 446 rushing yards against the Huskies, and a defense that no longer has its best player stifled one of the higher flying offenses in the Pac-12. Cal will probably keep the score closer than Big Game 2010, so there’s that.

Nov. 25, at Arizona State: Vontaze Burfict is a scary, scary man for a multitude of reasons. (YouTube his name with the terms “Idaho State” or “Katz” for reference.) The Sun Devils’ star linebacker is a 230-pound tornado that can toss your backfield apart at any time. If he doesn’t break Maynard, that’s a small victory for Cal.

That ASU also has a decent quarterback/giant in the 6-foot-8 Brock Osweiler makes it the Pac-12’s third-best team.

Dec. 2, Pac-12 Championship Game: Nope.

Dec. 22, MAACO Las Vegas Bowl: This bowl gets the fifth pick out of the Pac-12 and the first pick out of the Mountain West. Cal probably matches up with a rebuilding TCU. The Bears haven’t won a bowl game since 2008, while TCU hasn’t missed a BCS bowl since 2008. But hey — what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?

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  • Zensailor76

    Cal will probably loose against Arizona St and Stanford and have wins over the sub par Washington St. and Oregon St. That means we will be 6 and 6 if we are lucky.  And not a single win against winning team in our conference. These Bowls require that Cal pay the Bowl promoters for all the seats (allocated) first and then we have to sell all the tickets we buy. In all but the 4 major Bowls, most schools loose $ in this process. I think we should just stay home, and save the school’s $ for somethng more beneficial like a new coach.

  • Guest

    Such is the danger of prediction, my friend.  After the 3 blowouts this year, even IF Cal received a bowl invitation they should decline because *this* is a terrible, awful team.

    More to the point, though, it’s a little hard to see the pathway to 6 wins from here. WSU? Cal loses because they are a better, more disciplined team. OSU? Riley has Tedford’s number, especially in Cali. Cal loses. Furd? Please. ASU? With post-season hope gone, the team will have quit on Tedford long ago; as they have in the past. Plus you’ve got the whole they are better than us thing.

    Nope. Cal goes 4 – 8 for the season

  • Anonymous

    Tedford had his chances and it came down to short yardage situations and the inability to win when we must.  These are two factors that distinguishes bad teams from good teams from great teams.  Critical plays fail due to lack of execution.  Execution failure is due to a lack of attention to detail and it starts from the top.  A play that comes to mind was the way Taylor Mays stopped Jahvid Best on third and short.  Carroll’s coaching staff knew Best was our go to guy in those situations and we run him wide for the short yardage.  SC had Mays cover the sidelines and it wasn’t a contest.  That was a momentum changing play – SC got the ball back and drove on us for its first TD in the game.   If Tedford’s staff paid attention to details, they would have know the size and speed of Taylor Mays and in that situation, they should have put a wide receiver in motion or roll a TE over to help block Mays.  You can call it hindsight – but its all about attention to details.

    We had good teams now we have bad teams in the past few years.  We will never have great teams because we don’t have great coaching.  I just don’t see Cal as a Rose Bowl contender with Tedford at the helm.  I hope I’ll eat my words but I doubt it.

  • Guest

    “Oh Gee wiz guys, we might make the Vagisil Feminine Itch Cream Bowl this year!”

    How about a Rose Bowl, its the least these thugs can do for us after we gave them admission. What the hell are these guys good for if they can’t even win football games?

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      Falling down on signal from coach.