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Cal Football Season In Review: Oregon Ducks Show No Mercy

Cal football headed up to Eugene in November 2015 and got whooped during the Oregon Ducks’ second-half-of-the-season redemption campaign. There were no signs of our Bear Raid as Cal laid an egg. Let’s see how the Ducks did in 2015, review our Cal-Oregon game, and see what insights this game can give fans for the 2016 season.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Season Recap

For Ducks fans, the 2015 season was surely one to forget. In the preseason, the Ducks were ranked #7 in the AP Poll and #5 in the Coaches Poll--making them the top-ranked Pac-12 team. QB Vernon Adams had just transferred from Eastern Washington with hopes of (sort of, at least) filling Marcus Mariota's gargantuan shoes. It was supposed to be another season with the Ducks dominating the conference and sniffing at national title hopes.

The first game vs. Eastern Washington (yes, the same school that banned Adams after he bolted for greener pastures in Eugene) was pretty shaky--the Ducks won 61–42, surely not what a highly-ranked team should be showing against an FCS opponent.

But, it was the next game--an epic match-up at #5-ranked Michigan State--that began the downfall for the Ducks' 2015 season. The Spartans narrowly escaped with a 31–28 win, propelling their season to all sorts of new heights and sending the Ducks searching for what went wrong.

In Oregon's next four games, they would lose twice. First, a beatdown (at home!) against Utah 62–20. And then, at home again--this time against Washington State 45–38 in OT.  Vernon Adams was hurt, people were second guessing Mark Helfrich (again), and Oregon fans were secretly happy that Chip Kelly's struggles in Philly meant they might get their savior back.

Fortunately for the Ducks, they righted the ship for the back half of the season and won out, gaining momentum along the way. They picked quality wins against #7-ranked Furd and #24-ranked U$C and got a bid to the Alamo Bowl vs. #11-ranked TCU.

Alamo Bowl organizers got all they wanted and more with the high-profiled match-up between the Ducks and Horned Frogs. After TCU's star QB Trevone Boykin was suspended for the game for participating in a bar fight while in San Antonio two days before the game, most folks thought the match-up would be much easier for the Ducks. Oh, were they wrong. Oregon got up by as much as 31 points at one point, but TCU erased that deficit and and ended up winning 47–41 in triple overtimes.

The thud that was the Oregon 2015 season finally came to an end.

Cal vs. Oregon

Oregon played Cal up at Eugene in both teams' ninth games of the 2015 season. Oregon thoroughly won 44–28.  Vernon Adams was back from injury for the Ducks and dominated the Bears--completing 17 of 29 passes for 300 yards, 4 TDs & 2 INTs on his way to a whopping 91.5 QBR game rating.

RB Royce Freeman ran all over the Bears' defense with 29 carries for 180 rushing yards (including the longest run of 30 yards). RB Tony Brooks-James also added 101 rushing yards with just 7 carries. Through the air, WR Darren Carrington had 4 catches for 112 receiving yards.

For Cal, QB Jared Goff had an off night--completing only 18 of 41 passes for 329 yards, 2 TDs & 1 INT (for a lowly 42.7 QBR game rating). RB Vic Enwere had 9 carries for only 68 yards & 1 TD; WR Bryce Treggs led all Cal receivers with 2 catches for 112 yards & 1 TD.

It was an overall poor showing from the Bears. Oregon dominated all major game stats--amassing 777 total yards (an Oregon record) compared to Cal's 432 yards, 37:16 time of possession compared to Cal's 22:44, 2 turnovers compared to Cal's 1, and 36 first downs compared to Cal's 20. At no point in this game did Cal appear to have a chance, particularly after Oregon's four unanswered TDs in the 2nd quarter.

Cal's Takeaways Looking Ahead

Cal's team next season is going to look very different from this squad that got smashed by the Ducks. Goff will be in Los Angeles leading their new NFL team, the extensive wide receiving corps will be long gone, and OC Tony Franklin was replaced by Jake Spavital (formerly at Texas A&M).

Fortunately, Cal's defense was young and will have another year of experience under its belt. Against Oregon last year, Cal's defense couldn't make stops--rarely does a Ducks offense lead in time of possession against an opponent (or amass 777 total yards!), but that's how porous Cal was last November.

Next season, Cal's defense will have to put up a better fight to slow the Ducks offense down and give the Cal offense more room to explore its playbook rather than bombing it all day in hopes of playing catch-up.