Going into Saturday night's season finale against Oregon State, I wondered if I would see a different Cal team than I had seen all season. With all the talk surrounding Coach Jeff Tedford's job security (or lack thereof), part of me expected the Bears to come out with a sharper focus, a sense of urgency, and maybe even an edge to them. Coming into the game 3-8 and 2-6 in the Pac-12, it very well may have been too late to save Coach Tedford's job, but, by golly, maybe the team would circle the wagons, rally around its embattled coach, and give a performance that would be worthy of a great sendoff if Saturday night was indeed Tedford's last game as Cal coach.
Well, not so much.
The same things that have plagued Cal all season long were present and accounted for on Saturday night. And all of the mistakes, penalties, lack of discipline, and generally poor play added up to an ugly 62-14 loss to Oregon State (8-2 overall, 6-2 Pac-12). How ugly was it? Historically ugly. The 62 points yielded to the Beavers marked the third highest total ever scored by a Cal opponent (behind 66 by Alabama in 1973 and 63 by Washington State in 1997). And for the first time since 1973, the Bears gave up 50 or more points in consecutive games. That's right: not even Tom Holmoe's horrific 2001 team gave up 50+ points in consecutive games.
How did it get to be as bad as that against an Oregon State team that had not beaten a Pac-12 opponent by more than 13 points all season before Saturday? As it turned out, it got that way pretty easily given the enormous amount of help the Bears gave to the Beavers:
- Cal committed a whopping 15 penalties for 172 yards, including an inexplicable seven personal foul penalties and two illegal hands-to-the-face calls on DeAndre Coleman alone. Perhaps the most facepalming penalty moment came in the fourth quarter, with the game already long decided in the Beavers' favor. With Oregon State itself flagged for a false start in punt formation, Cal special teams player (and former transfer from Oregon State) Kameron Krebs drew a flag unsportsmanlike conduct for apparently "taunting" an OSU player. Thus, the Beavers false-started themselves into...getting a first down! Unbelievable. Cal ends its season averaging more than eight penalties per game for 83 yards in losses.
- Turnovers...oh the turnovers. The Bears committed four more of them on Saturday, in the form of an interception and three fumbles. Cal finished the season with a minus-7 turnover margin.
- Failure to defend the pass: Oregon State quarterback and Bay Area native Sean Mannion torched the Bears' defense for 325 yards and four touchdown passes -- and he didn't even play for most of the fourth quarter. Though Josh Hill was able to intercept Mannion early in the first quarter to thwart an Oregon State drive, the Bears otherwise had no answer for the Beaver passing game.
- Failure to stop the onslaught: After Cal tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter, Oregon State scored 28 unanswered points to take a 35-7 lead at halftime -- Cal's largest halftime deficit of the season. The Beavers scored 21 of those points following Cal turnovers.
- Poor tackling: Oregon State running backs Terron Ward and Storm Woods got good chunks of yardage against the Cal defense, due in no small part to being able to get away after first contact. In the most embarrassing display, multiple Bears failed to wrap up -- or even show interest in stopping -- Oregon State's Terron Ward on a 47-yard touchdown run that made the score 49-7 in the third quarter. Ward ran through several Cal defenders like they were mere tackling dummies in a training camp drill.
When the game mercifully ended in a 48-point defeat --- the most lopsided loss of the Jeff Tedford era at Cal --- Oregon State had racked up 559 yards of total offense to Cal's comparatively paltry 322 yards. And although Cal quarterback Allan Bridgford completed more than 50 percent of his passes (18 of 31) for the first time in his career, he threw for only 132 yards, 40 yards less than the amount of penalty yardage Cal amassed in the game and a far cry from the 359 yards Oregon State passed for in the game. Cal did have a bright spot in Isi Sofele, who rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown in his final game as Cal Bear. Sofele finishes his career with nine career 100-yard games. In all, Cal rushed for 190 yards against an Oregon State defense that had yielded only 99 rushing yards per game during the season.
But while Cal's running game might have been a bright spot, it was not nearly bright enough to blind anyone from the rest of Cal's ineptitude on both offense and defense in this game. The performance was every bit as bad as any performance any long suffering Cal fan has ever seen during any era you can think of (even the Tom Holmoe era). The Bears looked like a team that was undisciplined, uninspired, and unprepared. As a result, Cal (3-9 overall, 2-7 Pac-12) not only completed its worst season in Tedford's 11 seasons as Cal coach, it lost nine games for only the seventh time in the Bears' 130-year history of the football program and only the second time since 1986. The Bears finished the season meekly with five straight lossses -- the first time since 1984 that Cal has lost five or more consecutive games to close a season. It was certainly not the type of performance that Coach Tedford wanted his team to have going into Sunday's meeting with Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour.
Asked if he expects to be back next season, Tedford said: "I don't know. My job is to develop players. We'll get back to work tomorrow and get ready to move on."
Barbour did not say what Tedford's future would be.
"Now that the season is over, Jeff and I will get to work (Sunday) on what the solutions are for us to get better," she said. "We will start the conversation."
Here is the full video.
The conversation may start and end with Coach Tedford being relieved of his duties as Cal football coach after 11 years on the job. After Saturday night's performance -- or non-performance -- any other outcome would appear to be an upset.