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What was the best Cal football performance this year, given quality of opponent?

A different spin on the Cal opponent review.

NCAA Football: California at Stanford Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

There’s one game left to rank, but let’s jumpstart this conversation now because I do not want to think about that bizarro Pasadena funk we always contract. What are the best California Golden Bears performances of the year, judging by quality of opponent?

Let’s take a look.

11. Colorado (5-6. Cal lost 44-28): The most disappointing performance of the year, Cal came out flat and finished flat. Colorado hasn’t been good in conference either, with their other Pac-12 win coming in a squeaker to Oregon State.

10. Washington (9-2. Cal lost 31-7): Every deficiency in the Cal offense was exposed that night in Seattle. Which made what happened next Friday all the more astounding.

9. Weber State (9-2 in FCS, made playoffs. Cal won 33-20). Weber State actually made the FCS Playoffs, so they turned out to be pretty good! But this was still a frustrating performance where the Bears were in real danger of seeing their season teeter the other way.

8. Oregon (6-5. Cal lost 45-24). Oregon lost half their football team by the end of the first half and Cal still could not make a game of it. That was frustrating, even if the Bears made a last minute comeback.

7. Oregon State (1-10. Cal won 37-23): Oh we won this one, but it wasn’t exactly the prettiest of wins against a really bad football team. I have three losses ranked over this one, because games against the like of the Beavers should not be two-score games.

6. USC (10-2. Cal lost 30-20): I’d rank this higher if not for the turnover fest.

5. Arizona (7-4. Cal lost 45-44 in double OT): Khalil Tate could not be stopped and Cal STILL nearly pulled out an incredible come-from-behind win. They had plenty of chances to give up and did not.

4. North Carolina (3-8. Cal won 35-30): The Tar Heels who are now 3-8 are not the same UNC team we had to deal with. That team was made of tougher stuff.

3. Ole Miss (5-6. Cal won 27-16): The Rebels aren’t very good this year. But they have decent enough fight where they put up 24 to 40 points most night. Holding the Rebels down to 16 and winning this with defense against an SEC program was very satisfying.

2. Stanford (8-3. Cal lost 17-14): Cal lost to the likely Pac-12 North champs because the Cardinal were all three inches taller, a field goal doinked off the uprights, and Ross Bowers threw a pass he will regret for quite awhile. Otherwise it was a thrilling, inspiring performance.

1. Washington State (9-2. Cal won 37-3): I’ve written about this game extensively. But it made me happy, it made you happy, and for one night Cal was the toast of college football once again.

I’m looking forward to more of those nights. They’re coming.