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Golden Nuggets: Weathering the Storm

A reality check for Cal Football.

NCAA Football: UCLA at California John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Football

  • If you’re looking to read some folks airing out frustrations over Saturday, you can find a few here at Golden Blogs... but you can also read Nam’s thoughts in his weekly Novel.

After another 3-0 start – this one, accompanied by a bye week to mark the accomplishment! – the increasingly offensively-challenged Bears have managed to largely fumble away their hopes of becoming a bowl team already, a strangely impressive feat when you consider they began the month halfway toward a postseason game to begin with.

Losing on the road to a beatable opponent, as they did last week in Tucson, was an unexpected treat to Arizona in itself – a fun-sized W, if you will – but the Bears outdid themselves for UCLA, by delivering up the whole bag of candy to a previously winless team.

Sometimes, field imitates life, and with the offense already a Choose Your Own Adventure of silly outcomes that eventually end up in the hands of the opponents, just about the only thing left to give away at this point is the game ahead of us. Oregon State stands as the lone probable win on the back half of the schedule, and that is a prospect getting less probable with every passing snap.

Right now, for Cal to take the proverbial next step as originally hoped, will require the tall task of knocking off several favorites, which, while not impossible, feels exceedingly unlikely when the team is routinely being outscored by opposing defenses and asking their third quarterback of the year to throw the ball 40 times a night.

  • Then there’s this editorial from the Daily Cal’s Josh Yuen about the difficulties of winning for Cal (throughout history).

My biggest takeaway, though, is that the past three weeks have been a reality check for not just players, but for fans too. The anger and frustration is evident in the reactions — whether it’s a #WeWantBowers thread or premature calls for Beau Baldwin and Justin Wilcox to lose their jobs on the spot. Additionally, these fans were the same ones who were calling Wilcox the leading candidate for Pac-12 Coach of the Year just two weeks ago.

For the record, there’s no formal proof released by the program, but it’s evident that Bowers’ services are not available at this point.

That said, I understand all of the frustration. The last time Cal competed in the Rose Bowl Game? 1959. The last time the Bears won “The Granddaddy of Them All”? New Year’s Day, 1938, when FDR himself roamed the west wing of the White House.

And after earning a second straight 3-0 start followed by back-to-back-to-back losses against conference foes derailed Cal’s dreams of competing at the top of the Pac-12 North, everyone has come back down to Earth.

Throughout Saturday’s struggle against the previously winless Bruins, the finger-pointing began, and fans seized the opportunity to roast all three facets of Cal’s team — an all-too-familiar sight for the past 60 years.

Does this mean they’ve given up hope? Not necessarily, but for all the talk of “we aren’t satisfied with just going to a bowl game” dialogue that players expressed throughout fall camp and into the first portion of the season, everyone is rightfully disappointed at what’s transpired over the past couple of weeks.

If anything, it’s a reminder of just how difficult winning has been for this program.

  • Cal’s bowl chances look very slim after the loss...
  • So now what? How do the Bears fight through what Wilcox calls a “storm”?
  • Although maybe far away from the worst turnover rate in college football history, they are near the worst team in the country in keeping the ball safe. Changing that is key to saving the season.
  • So how are the Beavers doing this year? Find out here.

Misc.

  • Cal MBB got a new point guard recruit in Joel Brown. Find out what he brings to the table here.
  • Fitting in the theme of this article (the headline I took directly from this one), the Women’s Crew team withstood literal storms to become a championship team.
  • Find out how Madison Roberts of Women’s Lacrosse is using her status as student-athlete to convince people in the campus community to vote this November.