The Cal football team does not have a lot of motivation for its final game of the season at Oregon State on Saturday, but it might take some inspiration from playing the Beavers.
Cal is 3-8, and its only possible motivation is to help save the job of coach Jeff Tedford and avoid ending the season on a depressing five-game losing streak.
Another loss would give the Bears a 3-9 season, a long way from what Cal, Tedford and all Bears fans had expected for this season.
But just a year ago, Oregon was 3-9, and the Beavers have turned it around to be 7-2, are 16th in the BCS standings and still with an outside chance to get to the Rose Bowl.
The suggestion is that perhaps Cal can make a similar turnaround next season.
“That’s what can happen,” Tedford told the Oakland Tribune. “There’s absolutely light at the end of the tunnel. Last year, they won three games, and they bounced back. Even though this is not the year we looked for, it doesn’t mean there is no hope in sight.”
If quarterback Zach Maynard can’t play again after missing last week’s game against Oregon, the Bears will again go with Allan Bridgford, who did all right against the Ducks as long as the Bears stayed close and could rely on their running game. But when Cal got behind by a few scores and had to play catch-up, Bridgford struggled. He was just 2-of-9 with two interceptions in the second half against the Ducks.
Either quarterback may be without the Bears’ best player, wide receiver Keenan Allen, who could miss his third straight game with a knee injury. Whether the Bears’ other starting wide receiver, Bryce Treggs, plays is also up in the air because of an ankle injury.
The Beavers have their own injury issues under center. Starting quarterback Cody Vaz injured his ankle in the closing minutes of the loss to Stanford on Saturday, and he is questionable for the game against Cal.
The difference, though, is that the Beavers have an experienced backup in Sean Mannion, who was the team’s starter when the season began and would start against Cal if Vaz if not ready.