Cal faces 'unbelievably impressive' Ducks

November, 8, 2012
11/08/12
5:30
PM ET
California is 3-7, has lost three games in a row, and coach Jeff Tedford -- have you heard? -- is on a decidedly hot seat.

The Bears' starting quarterback, Zach Maynard, won't play Saturday because of a knee injury suffered last week against Washington. The Bears' best player, receiver Keenan Allen, also won't play because of a knee injury. The Bears' best offensive lineman, right tackle Matt Summers-Gavin, is doubtful with a knee injury.

[+] EnlargeAllan Bridgford
AP Photo/Rob HoltAfter spending most of the season on the sideline, Allan Bridgford will start against Oregon on Saturday.
Oregon, fresh off decimating a USC team that beat Cal by 22 points, comes to town on Saturday.

Just FYI, Saint Jude is the patron saint of desperate or lost causes. Of course, Cal could prop up its hopes on what happened in 2010.

The Ducks and their high-powered offense were also unbeaten and headed for the national title game when they arrived in Berkeley, Calif., on Nov. 13, 2010. They had scored more than 50 points in each of their six previous games. Cal was headed toward a losing, bowl-less season, just as it is now.

But the Bears' defense held the Ducks to just 317 yards, and Cal nearly pulled off the upset before succumbing 15-13. It was Oregon's second-lowest point total and third-lowest yardage total under coach Chip Kelly.

Of course, that was two years ago. Oregon blasted Cal 43-15 last year. And the present matchup doesn't look terribly favorable.

Tedford has been watching Oregon game tape, including the 62-51 victory at USC, in which the Ducks rolled up 730 yards. It was the most points scored and yards gained ever against a USC defense.

"Unbelievably impressive," Tedford said. "It will keep you awake at night watching that. They are prolific with what they are doing now. It's amazing how they are executing and the team speed they have, the way their quarterback is playing. There's really no holes. To do that against USC, which we all know is talented and athletic, was a real eye-opener."

It seems fair to suggest that Cal is going to have to score a lot of points to have any chance of pulling the upset. The problem with that is the Bears are ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring offense (24.5 points per game), while Oregon is No. 1 at 54.3 points per game.

Yes, if the Bears double their season average, they still will be well short of what Oregon typically scores.

Further, there's the quarterback issue. While Cal fans haven't been thrilled by Maynard through the past two seasons, there's a reason backup Allan Bridgford never won the starting job. For one, Bridgford, who is 4-for-16 for 32 yards this season, lacks Maynard's foot speed. That could be a problem for an offense that has yielded 39 sacks and has added to its already long list of injury woes on the line.

"We don't have a ton of tape on Allan," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "Seems like he's a little more of a passer than a runner. But I don't know how much you drastically change your offense at this point in the season."

That's pretty much what Tedford said: Bridgford will run the Bears' offense.

Some hope for Cal could lie in the Ducks' beaten-up defensive front seven, which could be down three D-linemen, including end Dion Jordan. Or it could hang on the Ducks having a post-USC letdown.

There's always Saint Jude, who might take a sad Cal song and make it better.

Ted Miller | email

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