Even before Cal quarterback Zach Maynard was injured in the Bears’ loss to Washington last week, there was little reason to believe Cal could beat No. 2 Oregon, even though the game Saturday will be played in Berkeley.
Now that Maynard won’t play against the Ducks, the Bears’ chances decrease even further. With Maynard nursing a knee injury, Cal’s quarterback will be Allan Bridgford, who has completed just 4-of-16 passes this season and has given no indication he’s capable of moving the Cal offense.
It won’t help that the Bears will again be without their best player and top offensive weapon, wide receiver Keenan Allen, who is expected to miss his second straight game with a knee injury.
With a healthy Allen and Maynard, Cal would still be a significant underdog, even at home.
The Bears have lost three in a row and now that they are eliminated from bowl possibilities, they have no tangible motivation. Most of the discussion heading into the Oregon game is whether coach Jeff Tedford will be fired after this season, which is not an uplifting situation for the team.
The bigger problem is Oregon and the Ducks’ offense. The Ducks lead the nation in scoring, and no team has been close to slowing down their up-tempo, spread option attack.
Oregon blew by USC 62-51 on the Trojans’ home field on Saturday in what amounted to their closest game of the season.
The Ducks rank second in the nation in rushing, with Kenjon Barner coming off a school-record 321-yard rushing game.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is the kind of dual-threat quarterback who has given the Bears problems, and De’Anthony Thomas is a big-play threat for which Cal has no defensive answer.
The only bit of optimism for Cal springs from the fact that it had great success against the Ducks the last time they came to Berkeley. If Cal can duplicate its performance from that 15-13 loss in 2010, Cal fans would feel pretty good about the team. Whether that would improve Tedford’s job security is another question.