Here's a list of good things that happened on Saturday night:
- Cal blocked both of Oregon's punts.
- Stanford didn't clinch the Pac-12 North.
- That hook and ladder near the end was kind of cool.
- My ESPN2 stream worked great, so I could watch this trash fire in stunning high definition.
And, because we at CGB believe in fair reporting, here's a list of bad things that happened:
- Oregon outgained Cal 777 yards to 432.
- They rushed for 477 of those yards.
- Royce Freeman carried for 180 yards. Tony Brooks-James ran for 101. Kani Benoit had 94.
- The Ducks scored on eight of their 12 drives.
- Kenny Lawler is broken, as is most of Cal's defense.
- Jared Goff is broken, but in a different way: he was 18-41 for 329 yards, with two TDs and a pick.
- The Bears actually could have gotten back in it at the end, were it not for some questionable choices to punt/kick away.
- The Ducks started running the clock down with 12 minutes left so that I could finish this recap and go to bed sooner.
Cal fans had been hoping for a hot start from their team, and they got one. The Bears forced a three and out on the Ducks opening possession and then set themselves up with good field position when Ray Hudson blocked the punt. Tony Franklin took the opportunity to take a deep shot, but Goff underthrew Maurice Harris on the first play. That was no problem though, as he found Khalfani Muhammad, Darius Powe, and finally Steven Andersen on the way to a quick touchdown.
The Ducks began to show signs of life on the next possession. Vernon Adams flashed his elusiveness with an eleven yard scramble, and then Taj Griffin did the same on a 25 yard catch and run. The Ducks quickly got to the red zone, but Adams threw behind his target on third and goal, directly into the hands of Griffin Piatt.
Vic Enwere capitalized on the interception, dragging defenders 29 yards on the following play. Goff found Trevor Davis on a third and long to get into the red zone. The drive would stall there though, forcing Matt Anderson on for a field goal try when Goff missed behind Ray Hudson on third down. It looked like Hudson may have been held by the defender, but no flag was thrown and the Bears settled for a 10-0 lead.
Just as Cal fans were starting to get comfortable, the Bears' D started to reveal its secrets. Royce Freeman converted two third and shorts before Kani Benoit came in to gash the defense for a 22 yard carry. Tony Brooks-James got in on the fun with a 12-yard run of his own, but Vernon Adams couldn't escape Hardy Nickerson on third and five. The Ducks made the 41-yard field goal and promptly got the ball back with a Cal three and out.
This was the drive that started to give me that familiar sinking feeling. Adams scrambled away from pressure on third and six to avoid reciprocating Cal's three and out, but the Ducks found themselves in another third down hole thanks to a clipping penalty followed by a false start. Then, with Cal's pass rush politely waiting for him to locate his receiver, Adams found Darren Carrington alone downfield for 46 yards. Adams finished the job himself, vaulting into the end zone for a touchdown, evening the score at 10.
Jared Goff couldn't match that showing, although his offensive line didn't give him much help. He was pressured on all three plays, and could therefore be excused for throwing wide of Trevor Davis on third down. The Bears punted.
This was the drive that made the familiar sinking feeling a lot worse. Fortunately, it was over quickly. Freeman ran for 19 yards. Then he ran for another 19 yards. Then Benoit ran for 15. Then Adams, again taking his sweet time to do so, found Bralon Addison for a 28 yard TD. That's the whole thing.
Cal almost got something going on the next drive, as the Bears managed to convert a pair of third downs (one on an Oregon penalty) despite Goff completing just one of his five passes on the drive. Luke Rubenzer set up in the wildcat on fourth down at midfield, but it was only a ruse as he pooch punted back to the Ducks.
Royce Freeman reeled off another big gain, followed by a flea flicker to get the Ducks across the 50. Devantae Downs was called for pass interference down near the end zone on the following play, moving the Ducks into the red zone. Adams then hit the annoyingly-named Dwayne Stanford for a short TD. The Bears quickly punted, giving the Ducks a chance to extend their 24-10 lead before halftime. They capitalized on the opportunity with a two minute drive, capped off with a short pass to Bralon Addison who shed Stefan McClure on his way to the end zone.
Having allowed 31 consecutive points to slip away from them, the Bears made one last effort to get some back before halftime. Aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Charles Nelson, the Bears quickly drove to the red zone. With nine seconds remaining, Goff rolled to his right and fired for Lawler in the end zone. The pass was broken up on a big hit that left Lawler and the defender on the turf, and the clock expired leaving the Bears scoreless in the quarter. Lawler would not return.
At the half, Oregon was outgaining Cal 441-196 (231-67 rushing). The Ducks led 31-10.
Matt Anderson put the Bears back on the scoreboard coming out of halftime. Goff completed his first long pass of the night, hitting a streaking Maurice Harris for 57 yards, but the offense stalled there and settled for a 48-yard field goal. The defense did its part to bring some late hope to Cal fans, holding Oregon to its second (and final) punt of the night. Hamilton Anoa'i blocked this one, giving Cal the ball at the opponent's 45. Vic Enwere made an appearance on the next drive, cutting for 22 yards into the red zone. He then converted a fourth down and one, fighting his way in for an eight-yard score. Goff converted the two point conversion on a QB keeper, narrowing the score to 31-21.
Not content to let us revel in our moral victory, the Ducks scored on their next two drives. On the first, Vernon Adams and Royce Freeman marched down to the goal line, but Freeman couldn't punch it in and the Ducks kicked the short fielf goal. On the second, Brooks-James continued to give the Cal defense trouble, running for 21, 26, and six yards to get his offense downfield quickly.
The first play of the fourth quarter finished off that drive and essentially the game. Adams connected with Charles Nelson, who had mostly been playing on defense in recent weeks, for a 20 yard TD on a wheel route. The five play drive took only 54 seconds of game time.
I would go into more detail about the rest of the game, but it's very late and I spent most of it crying, so I'll be brief. With under eight minutes to go, Treggs hauled in a tipped pass and ran it in for an 80 yard TD. The Ducks kicked a field goal to make the score 44-28, and Goff's last effort was intercepted by Khalil Oliver to make that the final score.
Most of the important statistics were covered above in the "bad things that happened" section, but here are some more for your perusal. Don't miss those rushing totals!
I think I've been fairly transparent throughout this recap. Goff was bad, though his offensive line couldn't do anything to slow down Oregon's three and four man rush. His wide receivers did little to bail him out, and his running backs couldn't do all that much once the Bears fell behind. The defensive play was somewhere between awful and nonexistent, and will only ignite further debate about the merits of the three man rush. There are valid questions to be asked about game management at the end of the first half as well as the continued decisions to kick away late in the game.
Oregon looked like a pretty average team with some good running backs. Vernon Adams didn't do anything special, but he performed more than well enough when the Cal secondary played as loose as it did against Texas. This game was just an ugh-worthy performance by the Bears, who should be taking the game against the Beavers very very seriously if they want to get bowl eligible. The problems that we were willing to overlook on the way to 5-0 were exposed against better competition, and not much obvious progress has been made to rectify them. Let's hope that changes.
I'm sorry if this got negative, but this one was hard to watch. I don't know what happens from here on out (and feel free to see my performance in this week's pick-em post to prove it), but the Cal team that played the last 50 minutes of this game isn't going to get very far. That's all I got. Go Bears.