Fill in the blank: This was the best California Golden Bears defensive performance since __________ because __________.
Ruey Yen: This was the best Cal defensive performance since the Utah win last year (October 1st, 2016) that resulted in the successful goal stand for the Bears to beat then No.18 Utah 28-23. Sure, the Utes didn't come in with the reputation of the Ole Miss offense. Then again, Ole Miss used their athleticism edge to compile some big numbers against nobodies. The Utes win is the clear (and lone) defensive highlight of the Dykes era.
Now if we solely just focus on the 2nd half of the Ole Miss game, I am sure that defensive performance can be traced back to further back in time to the Tedford glory days.
Nik Jam: There's only been a few good performances by the defense this decade. The Utah finish was very good, but as far as a consistent second half shutdown? Has to be the 2015 ASU game. Other memorable defensive second halves I was thinking of include Big Game 09, WSU in 2015, and most of Cal's victories in the unfortunate 2010 season.
ragnarok: The win over Utah last year has already been mentioned, and is the correct answer, although it's worth also mentioning the impressive defensive shutdown of San Diego State in 2015, where the Bears gave up an opening-drive TD to the Aztecs and then absolutely shut. it. down. after that, as the Bears would respond to win going away, 35-7. SD State might not be a program on the level of Ole Miss or Utah, but then again, they dropped 45 on the Bears last year and are currently 2-0 in the Pac-12, so some respect is due.
atomsareenough: Oregon 2010, because they are similarly eye-opening examples of a team playing up to its potential. Obviously the Oregon 2010 performance was a better actual accomplishment objectively, since that Oregon squad was one of the top teams in the country and would go on to the national championship game. In fact, Oregon led the country in scoring offense that year; it was a Chip Kelly offense at the height of its prowess. The Ducks had actually dropped 52 points on Jim Harbaugh's #4 ranked Stanfurd team earlier in the season, and Cal held them to just 15 points.
So while I won't say that Cal's defensive performance against Ole Miss was better than that (it wasn't), I think we need to factor in that the 2010 Cal Bears had an extremely talented defense with multiple NFL-caliber players on it, while the 2017 Cal Bears are coming off a year where they had one of the worst defenses in the country. So if you adjust for talent and ability, I think they're both examples of Cal playing just about the best defense it's capable of playing.