On Saturday, the lights will finally turn on at Memorial Stadium. The players will grace Kabam Field after the sun has gone down and will give Berkeley its first night game in 12 consecutive home matches.
A 2-7 Oregon State football team.
A team that Cal should quite easily defeat. “Should” being the key word.
Last week in Oregon, the Bears lost to a mediocre Ducks team, 44-28. But not only did they lose to them, but they allowed the Oregon offense to gain 777 yards — a school record for the Ducks.
Let that sink in.
The Cal defense did so poorly Saturday that it allowed the Ducks to steamroll their way to one of the most impressive offensive performances in school history. And to add on to the woes of the defense, which was certainly banged up prior to the game and didn’t get much help on that front as the game went on, the offense was entirely unproductive. Junior quarterback Jared Goff’s light has barely burned a spark as the season has progressed. He was unable to get the ball to his receivers with drops all over the field. Despite their lack of efficiency, the Bears somehow out passed the Ducks, throwing for 300 yards to Cal’s 329.
It was the running game where the Bears truly struggled, only managing 103 yards to Oregon’s 477. But that doesn’t fully describe the failures of Goff and Company.
The Bears only had 20 first downs and held the ball for just more than 22 minutes. That’s to Oregon achieving 36 on a mind-boggling 37 minutes.
Now, this game was an especially bad performance by a Bears team that started the season on a high, 5-0 and ranked in the top 25, but is now on a four-game losing streak desperately searching for an elusive sixth win to give them bowl-game eligibility.
But needing this win so late in the season was a sign that this group has truly become desperate. Despite having a quarterback that was the talk of the town, Cal’s offense has been overall disappointing and unproductive this year. This is an offense led by Goff, who was supposed to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NCAA this year. This is an offense that has senior wide receivers Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler and more. It’s also a group that has seen tight end Stephen Anderson have a breakout season in an offensive system that is not built for someone at his position to have success.
With the wounded defense combined with the less-than-satisfactory offense, the special teams had arisen as the best unit on the team. With two blocked punts against Oregon, their success was the only bright note from the game last week.
Cal will most likely win Saturday against the Beavers. The Bears will find their bowl game in the flood of a team that has gone 0-6 in the Pac-12. But Cal has an incredibly tough matchup against No. 7 Stanford in its near future. And it is incredibly likely that the Bears could end the season only one win better than the year before. What a waste of this team that would be.
Most predictions say that Cal will win and by a significant amount. And they will most likely be correct. But the time for watching film and figuring out the improvements that can be made has passed. There aren’t any more excuses to be made.
But as Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said, “Good people are harder to beat than bad people.” With the “bad people” in town this weekend, the Bears will have their best shot at winning in months.
Even with this win, the best this team can conceivably be is 7-5, which isn’t even guaranteed. This team is nowhere near what it should be and with an uncertain future ahead for this program, all that can be done is to wonder what could have been.
Alaina Getzenberg is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]