(Written by Ken Crawford)
After the last two weeks you won’t be seeing from me any delusions that the Bears are going to win tonight. It was really disappointing to see the Bears not win a game that was turning into a shootout. It has appeared that the Bears are built to win those sorts of games. Maybe it was just bad luck/bounce of the ball. Or maybe it was deceptively a shootout due to the turnovers. But my gut says that the less-than-horrible quality of UCLA’s defense was the main culprit in why the Bears weren’t able to hold-serve in the shootout last Saturday.
With that revelation, it’s hard to think the Bears can beat Oregon.
Cal’s defense has yet to show it can meaningfully stop anyone. We haven’t given up less than 31 points to anyone since Sac State. And while the defense is slowly improving, there’s no reason to believe that the trend ends tonight against Oregon’s high powered offense.
So the only question that remains is can the Bears score at will tonight and turn this into another shootout?
A very strong argument can be made that no, Cal’s offense will find itself more frustrated than successful against Oregon’s defense. While they haven’t been great, Oregon has yet to give up more than 31 all season, even in a loss. To compare, let’s look at how the last two defenses Cal played compares to Oregon’s defense:
…er… nevermind that. Can you believe Oregon, UW and UCLA have no common opponents yet? (minus playing each other, which doesn’t help from a comparing defenses perspective (because a team never plays their own defense).)
So I guess I’m stuck with comparing them qualitatively, and from that perspective my gut says that Oregon’s front 7 isn’t as good as UWs, but is probably about the same as UCLA’s, although they might just be a tad weaker. However, Oregon’s secondary is the fastest and likely the best of the three, even thought statistically they give up a lot of yards. A lot of that has to do with the scheme because they also give up the fewest points of the 3.
What that all leads up to is I don’t expect the Bears to “drop 50″ tonight. If they improve on last week’s performance and everything goes their way, they could score 40+ in a shootout, but more likely in the 20′s or 30′s.
And frankly, I fear even the 40+ won’t even be enough. Unless something changes radically, or Kaufman has something up his sleeve (which all evidence of how vanilla he schemes suggests to the contrary), I expect Oregon to score in the 40′s.
So the Bears lose this one in all probability. The only question is whether the Bears can put up enough points to make a game of it.
Cal 30, Oregon 45