The longest continually active Cal Bear blog

Archive for June, 2008


2008 Season Preview Podcast: 66 Days to Go

So what if it’s 66 days (we counted) until the first Cal game of this season? That didn’t stop Ken from predicting every game and every score, and it doesn’t stop us from yammering on and on about the forthcoming season — as well as the recent Stadium project court ruling — in this three-man Excuse Me for My Voice podcast.

In this episode, Ken Crawford, Jason Snell, and Philip Michaels sit in a room and figure out how to do a podcast together. The good news: We figured it out. The bad news: We recorded a whole podcast before we figured it out. Enjoy!

2008 game-by-game predictions

Each year I do my best to predict the score of each game for the upcoming season after Spring Practice wraps up. This year it has taken me a long time to decide how to go about it because there are more question marks about the team than any year since the beginning of the Tedford era. To resolve that, I’ve had to make a couple of assumptions:

The #1 assumption is regarding the quarterback. I really have no idea who is going to start. The way I have resolved this is to assume a “level of play” out of the quarterback. The level I have assumed is the play of Longshore pre-injury in 2007 and Riley in the bowl game. I believe these two levels of play to be about the same. There is a significant mobility difference, but since Tedford tends not to modify his game-plan for who is at QB, I suspect the difference will be minimal in the end.

The #2 assumption is that the running back situation is going to be about the same as with Forsett in the backfield. In many ways I believe this is selling the team short as the combination of Best, Vereen, Slocum and perhaps Deboskie will likely result in a 1-2 punch (if not 1-2-3 punch) that is stronger than what Forsett provided. In the end I think it balances out because I may be over-selling the quarterback situation.

The rest of the team’s starters are predictable enough that my job is to figure out not who will start but how those starters will perform against a bunch of teams that are themselves in flux.

Cal 41, Michigan State 27:
On paper, MSU looks to be a formidable opponent. Early pre-season polls have them ranked in the high teens to low twenties. The offense is also experience laden with senior quarterback, Brian Hoyer, in this third season starting under center, a senior running back coming off a nearly 1500 yard season and over 2700 yards in his career as well as an offensive line with 3 seniors and 2 juniors. On defense MSU doesn’t look quite as strong up front but will have a formidable secondary with all four spots manned by players with lots of experience. All of that aside, my gut says that this is a well over-appreciated team because of their noble effort, albeit a loss, in their bowl game versus Boston College. The team was 7-6 overall last year and 3-5 in a VERY weak Big 10. Call me an optimist if you wish but Cal will keep the MSU running game in check and that will be all that is needed to ensure a win with the offense clicking early.

WSU 13, Cal 35:
If for some miraculous reason WSU is able to pull the upset against Oklahoma State in their opening game, this game may not be the walk in the park I expect it to be. With a new head coach a big upset can fuel a team to play above its pay-grade. Since I don’t expect that upset to occur, I don’t expect this game to be a tough one and the Wougs will go down easy.

Maryland 10, Cal 45:
Maryland is a very young team going into 2008. Their presumptive starter at quarterback has never taken a snap. Their running back has only one year of experience under his belt and it wasn’t a very good one. The rest of the roster is full of freshmen and sophomores and the occasional inexperienced junior. Considering the team just snuck into a bowl game at 6-6 with their experienced roster last year and couldn’t pull off the victory despite Oregon State spotting them 14 points in the 1st quarter, I don’t think there is much to fear from Maryland, despite the fact they will enter the game undefeated after beating up on two patsies.

Cal 26, Colorado State 13:
If the Bears had not squeaked by versus Colorado State last year I would say that this game would have the potential to be a letdown game. Colorado State had a rough year last year, losing their first six games (including a 28-34 loss to Cal) before playing .500 ball to finish out the season 3-9. However, the team lost very little of its now ‘school of hard knocks’ battle tested squad and looks quite experienced coming into this season. Colorado State could themselves be undefeated if they can pull the opening week upset against Colorado before playing two patsies of their own. Nevertheless, the Bears won’t forget what happened last year and will be ready to show the home crowd why we have reason to be excited about 2008, even though the end score reflects a dirty, drag ‘em out victory.

Cal 30, Arizona State 24:
ASU will be fresh off having their teeth knocked out of their heads versus the highly regarded Georgia Bulldogs when they come to Berkeley. Nevertheless, they’ll still be 3-1 after beating up on two patsies and Stanford (who needs a whole different word for their weakness). The pundits are pretty high on ASU mostly because Rudy Carpenter is back under center and their experience on the offensive line. What is forgotten is just how much talent ASU lost to graduation, particularly on defense. Expect Cal to be out for blood against this finesse team and romp to an early lead before the resolve of ASU under Erickson tightens the score.

Arizona 27, Cal 21:
Normally I would say that Cal getting Arizona before November is a good thing. However, I think this is the year that Arizona breaks through from sub-mediocrity to enter the game versus Cal 4-2, losing only to UCLA and one of Washington and Stanford. Arizona will be desperate to get back on track versus the Bears to put them only one game from bowl eligibility before getting to the meat of their schedule. As much as I hate to say it, this is Cal’s letdown game on the road and the 5-0 curse continues. It’ll feel eerily like 2006 where it looks like the wildcats are going to go down early before clawing back into it in the 2nd half and taking the lead late in the game.

Cal 49, UCLA 27:
The quarterback situation at UCLA is one that should make every legitimate college football fan feel sorry for UCLA. How many QB injuries can one team sustain? There will be even more reason to feel sorry for them after their brutal schedule to open the season where they could enter the game as low as 2-5, although they could be as high as 4-3. Nevertheless, Cal won’t let a repeat of 2007 occur particularly with this game at home and the home win streak in this series will grow to 10.

Cal 20, Oregon 23:
Here’s a sure betting tip for all you gamblers out there: NEVER take the over for the Cal-Oregon game. This game is always lower scoring than everyone expects. If this game was early in the season I would expect Cal to win and win easily. By this point however, the inexperience that Oregon will have had early in the season, particularly at the skill positions, will be long gone and Oregon will be clicking on all cylinders. If the Bears can win this game it would set them up for the key showdown with USC the following week. Alas, the very experienced Oregon defense will stifle the Cal offense and Oregon wins this one in one that comes down to the wire yet again.

USC 27, Cal 20:
My gut says that USC will lose another uncharacteristic Pac-10 game in 2008. I’m guessing it is either Arizona or Washington because I don’t think WSU has it in them and Oregon and ASU wouldn’t qualify as ‘uncharacteristic’. Nevertheless, the one loss in conference play will ensure that this game is for all the marbles yet again and yet again the USC defense will be the deciding factor. Sorry Bear fans, no Rose Bowl in 2008.

OSU 13, Cal 41:
I don’t know if I’ll ever figure this out, but a trip to Corvallis may help me understand why the Cal-OSU series is the antithesis of the Cal-UCLA game. The home team hasn’t won this game since 2002 when the Beavers actually won at home in Tedford’s first year. That trend will continue this year as the Bears are desperate to get back on track after back-to-back loses to Oregon and USC. OSU will also be having difficulty filling all the holes in the depth chart as the usual injuries pile up this late in the season. Expect Cal to romp and romp early.

Cal 38, Stanford 3:
Two words: RE – VENGE! The Cal defense will be out for blood in this one and the offense will be back to clicking like early season form. Stanford will be fairing far worse than most with the injury bug depleting an already thin depth chart. With the ‘new coach’ and ‘we beat USC’ mojo long since faded from memory, Cal wins this one in a walk similar to the previous Tedford Big Games. The one difference is that Stanford’s offensive line should be good enough that Stanford won’t need 3 QB’s and Cal fans won’t find themselves answering the difficult question of whether it is more morally bankrupt to feel sorry for whoever is the next Stanford QB to take that beating or to show no mercy.

Cal 31, Washington 17:
The only reason to fear this game is if it was in Seattle, since it is now early December or if the Huskies are but one victory from bowl eligibility. However, my guess is that Washington will have likely found their 7th loss against UCLA two games prior because of their BRUTAL non-conference schedule. They may just have the nation’s toughest schedule two years in a row with non-conference games against Notre Dame, Oklahoma and BYU. Add in having to play the conferences three toughest teams (USC, Oregon and Cal) on the road as well as the Apple cup in Pullman and it’s going to be tough for the Huskies to get to their last game with only 6 losses. Expect Cal to grind this one out on the ground and only go to the air when necessary with the young defensive front being unable to hold off the determined Cal offense.

Cal 35, Kansas 19:
The Holiday bowl is not a happy camper faced with a Texas vs. Cal match-up “by the numbers”. Unwilling to pick below their ranking on both sides, they pick Cal because of their good historical showing in San Diego and because Texas was just there the prior year. Instead they go for Kansas who has taken the #2 spot yet again in the Big-12 north. Their other choice was Texas Tech. in third place in the Big-12 south but they didn’t want a rematch of 2004.

Expect to see an update of these predictions at the end of Fall practice.

Prediction on ground breaking

‘The Duke’ asks in the comment section for my prediction on when the University will be able to break ground now that the ruling has come down and been analyzed. I could just do the Oregon game thing and say ’31-24 Bears’ relying on my keen instinct and prediction skills. (Of course the appropriate response would be ‘Cal 24, UCLA 13′, but I digress.) But in this case my crystal ball is pretty murky so instead I’ll give a more nuanced answer.

In the end it all comes down to three things:

  1. How quickly judge Miller rules on the Writ
  2. Whether the Writ includes a recirculation or re-approval of the EIR
  3. Whether the injunction is maintained upon appeal

Judge Miller will have all of the paperwork she need to rule on the Writ before the end of the month. That’s the best news there is. Unfortunately, she gets up to 60 days to actually finalize and publish the Writ. Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s going to take a LOT for me to fall for the “Oh, but we expect the judge to rule far more quickly than the deadline” mantra again. Somehow releasing the ruling at 6:30 PM on the day of the deadline doesn’t feel ‘early’ to me… but that’s just me.

So I’d say the path that allows for the earliest ground breaking is the end of August. That assumes that judge Miller rules in Cal’s favor so that no recirculation or re-approval of the EIR is necessary and the judge who hears the appeal that is an absolute certainty refuses to re-institute the injunction.

In mid-April I wrote about the likelihood that the injuction will be lifted. I believe that logic to still be accurate. However, I believe the likelihood that the judge rules in a way that causes a significant delay is much lower now, say 25%, bringing the likelihood of the project being further delayed beyond August down to 38.75%.

So, the best way to say this is:

“When football season starts we will have either just broke ground (62.25%) or we will have found out that we’ll be spending the off-season in the spring of 2009 discussing how long this appeal is going to take (38.75%).”

And since I’m making predictions… Cal 41, Michigan State 27. (More of that to come later this week.)

Court ruling article published

After I wrote my court ruling blog post I re-edited it up, added a few more details and then submitted to the Rivals gang to be published there:

What The Ruling Means

In this case the information in it is nearly identical to what I wrote in the blog post (I work very hard not to do that most of the time so that I’m actually providing value to the subscribers that they can’t just get for free here), so you won’t gain much in the way of new knowledge by reading it. What I find more interesting about it is the difference in how one writes an article and a blog post. A side-by-side comparison shows all kinds of little differences (all personal references are gone, reduced use of sarcasm and derision, etc.) that I made so that the content would be appropriate for an article.

If you’re interested in that it might be worth a look. (No subscription required to read this article)

Grading the media coverage

I’m not going to worry about the 5 PM and 6 PM news coverage (which was horrible in the rush) but what is available this morning:

KTVU: C- (Did alright minus grossly exagerating the EIR short-comings in one spot the middle)
KPIX: B (No glaring errors but refused to state any facts, just what both sides were saying)
KGO-TV: B- (No glaring errors but not equal time for both sides, although the previous night’s video is far better. I’d give that video a B+.)
NBC11: F (video is from before the ruling)
KRON: D (No later update after 6:30 PM (at least on the web) and that one was entirely one-sided)
KCBS: C+ (Starts with the tree-sitter side and only “rebuts” it with University side)
KGO: A- (Very balanced. Starts with the facts and then puts protestors as sidebar)
SFGate: B+ (Reasonable balanced with enough details to make it clear what is going to happen)
CC Times: A+ (On headline alone “Judge rules in UC Berkeley’s favor” but it also has the real details)
Daily Cal: B+ (Generally strong but over quotes the PHA rep. and her bogus arguments)
Oakland Tribune: A+ (same article as CC Times)

For what it’s worth, a couple of reports indicated that they’ve managed to force the tree-sitters into one redwood tree, which is really good news. The bad news is that Dumpster Muffin has a death wish. I work with wood a lot and the problem is that it breaks down relatively quickly. If she keeps shaking that platform, it’s only a matter of time before it structurally collapses. I pray to God (quite literally) that she comes to her senses and stops this suicidal activity.

And now my feeling on salt in wounds

In my previous post I focused pretty much solely on the ruling itself and ignored the “controversy” over both sides declaring victory and particularly that the very first news reports reported it as a huge and DECISIVE victory for the tree-sitters.

What I have a very hard time getting my head around is how people can be as disingenuous as they clearly are. I mean, I understand how the news media, particularly when they’re rushing to get something on the 5:00 news doesn’t do the due-diligence to understand what the ruling says before reporting on it. I even understand how the protestor crowd who was celebrating could not understand the all the details of the ruling and just understood “the injunction is still in place”.

But what I don’t get is statements like this from Stephen Volker:

“We are ecstatic,” said Stephan Volker, attorney for the California Oak Foundation, which sued the university two years ago. “We believe this project is now dead.”

Say WHAT!?!

I mean, this guy is a lawyer. He KNOWS (or should) that the project is in NO WAY dead. Even if my analysis is correct and they’re going to try and show that Memorial stadium is value-less and they believe victory is theirs once they prove that, that hasn’t happened yet. At a minimum he needs to put in some future tense in his statement like “this ruling allows us to kill this project”.

Going beyond the being disingenuous, perhaps even with himself, I further loved his victory statement:

“The university’s petty provocations are no match for the rule of law.”

I can’t help but snicker at that one. There was page after page after page after page in that ruling where the judge said, in legal terms, that the ‘petty provocations’ came from Volker. With just about every instance the judge said his legal arguments were pretty ridiculous. The difference is that in a legal document you don’t say “that’s stupid, you numbskull!” you instead say “legal precedence X made it clear that the court did not have to consider Y” or something like that.

Today starts where the tree-sitters pick up their disingenuous tactics. They’ve of course got a long history of it. Lying about what the cops and the University are doing. Purposefully provoking an incident and then claiming they were attacked. Lying through their teeth about the nature of the grove claiming it is whatever they think will sway public opinion (native burial ground, old growth, WWI memorial, etc.).

I’ll go on record and predict that they meme they’ll be using starting today will be along the lines of “The University lost in court and is directly violating the judge’s order by (doing whatever they’re upset about).” Yesterday I can forgive them for thinking they’ve won. I don’t expect them to understand the legal nuances in such short order particularly when they’ve got a lawyer who is disingenuous.

Today they’ve got no such excuse.

My thoughts on the ruling

Well, I’ve finally read the whole thing thoroughly. Here are my thoughts:

Alquist-Priolo: (AP)

The court ruled that the University is subject to the AP as just about everyone expected. This is no big deal in the end because the University’s plans/case did not rely on ruling that way. However, what occured to me is the PR aspects of this. This sounds like a big victory for the City of Berkeley and the tree-sitters. Particularly since this is the first thing discussed in the ruling and takes a bunch of pages, for the weak of heart who aren’t willing to read the whole thing, all they’ll ever see is the court focusing on the COB being right. While in the end I think it’ll all come out in the wash, it was probably a poor decision to advance this argument by the University because it allows the COB an avenue to claim a major victory.

The good news is that all the stuff that was actually meaningfully debated in court went the way of the University including that the stadium and the SAHPC are separate structures. The one fly in the ointment was that, and this was even admitted by the University in court, there were a few very minor alterations to the stadium as part of the SAHPC:

  1. A Grade Beam to be installed along base of the Stadium’s west wall.
  2. Alterations to existing staircases
  3. Holes in the foundation for wiring

What this means is that the AP is triggered for these alterations and therefore the University must do the math/work to show that the improvements are less than 50% of the value of the stadium. This means getting the court to approve a value for the stadium and getting cost estimates for the alterations. The alterations will be pretty cheap, so there’s no issue there. The issue is what Memorial is worth.

There’s been a lot of discussion regarding this on a number of forums overnight and what has been pointed out is that if the COB can prove that the value of the stadium is very low, then that becomes a problem. The way they do that is to use a “depreciation method” where you take the cost of construction and then depreciate the value of the structure for each year it was used. Since Memorial has been around and used forever, Viola!, it’s worth $0. Of course the University contends that a “replacement value” should instead be used. This of course would result in a very high value because construction costs are so high these days.

What doesn’t seem to be discussed in all these places is that on page 35 of the ruling, the judge states what she thinks is the right way to value the stadium:

“(the cost of replacing the existing improvements [commentary: which means the structure and not the land] less whatever depreciation or obsolescence the improvements have suffered) may be more likely to serve the purposes of the Alquist-Priolo”

That to me sounds about right. She’s saying, look, if you build this thing from scratch, you’re going to have a building that is worth more than the old one. The lack of chips and cracks and the longer period of time it will be before aspects of it (like wood seats) have to be replaced make it worth more. So, while replacement value is a good starting point (and that’s the key), you have to reduce the value by a bit to take into account the fact that the building isn’t brand new.

And the key as stated above is that you get to start with replacement cost. I’m sorry, the depreciation because it’s not new is NOT going to devalue the building to the degree that the 3 items listed above couldn’t be done nor “phase 2″ the retrofitting of the west side. (And “phase 3″ has always been in doubt and is less critical.)

So to summarize, all that the University needs to do is get a reasonable valuation of the stadium, by the judge’s own proposed method, and everything is in compliance for the AP.

California Environmental Quality Act: (CEQA)

The thing to note here is just how many things went the University’s way:

  • The Regents were allowed to have the EIR reviewed by a sub-committee
  • The Regents did not prematurely approve the EIR
  • The University did not need to recirculate the EIR with the late breaking siesmic reports
  • The EIR did properly analyze the impact of removing the trees (suck on that one tree-sitters!)
  • The EIR did properly analyze the impact of potential native burial plots (it’s sucking time Mr. RunningWimp!)
  • The EIR’s project description was sufficiently detailed
  • The EIR did properly analyze the impact of the geological and seismic impacts
  • The project will not worsen emergency access to the Panoramic Hills neighborhood (yeah, you rich snobby home-owners get to do your sucking too!)
  • The project doesn’t violate the 2020 LRDP EIR’s requirement for mitigationg impacts to “cultural resources”
  • The EIR was reasonable to join all of the projects together instead of having a separate EIR calling out the SAHPC’s purpose and impact.
  • The EIR addressed the necessary project alternative sites and scopes.
  • The proposed lighting does not harm the historical character of Memorial stadium

Item after item went the way of the University. Every ridiculous claim was rebutted. While I am a bit harsh on the University for advancing a singular agressive claim (AP is not applicable to the University), the COB and their cohorts advanced one ridiculous claim after another and the court shot all of them down.

The one surprising little note towards the end of it all was the court was rejecting the EIR’s statement that the additional impacts from doubling the number of events at the stadium was unavoidable because there was nothing in the EIR that showed why doubling the number of events was unavoidable. However, what the court did NOT do is say what the implications of their conclusion was, which leaves me scratching my head as to what the University will have to do to rectify the situation.

The ruling then wraps up saying that based on all of the above, a ‘Writ of Mandate’ will be issued. To the best of my knowledge the ‘Writ’ is the statement of what explicitely will have to be done to rectify the problems in the EIR (and perhaps the AP valuation as well). The judge gave the COB and cohorts until June 24th to propose the ‘Writ’ and until the 27th for the University to respond.

So, what this means to me is that the COB is going to write a proposed writ that says something along the lines of “AH! MY GOD! If the doubling of the events in the Stadium is not UNAVOIDABLE, then this whole project is completely bogus and you should halt it NOW! NOW! NOW! And if you won’t do that, at a very minimum, the EIR is FOUNDATIONALLY inaccurate and therefore the University has to redo the WHOLE thing and re-submit it for public comment AND get it reapproved by the Regents. Furthermore, the stadium should be for sale at the $0.99 store and therefore the alterations will well exceed the value of the stadium and you MUST, MUST, MUST halt the SAHPC on the AP’s 50% rule.”

The University will respond with “Ummm, why don’t we just change the word ‘unavoidable’ to the phrase ‘desireable in the context of the proposed project’, no recirculation and no re-approval necessary. Oh and the stadium is obviously worth hundreds of millions and the alterations won’t even cost one million, so we’re cool on the AP.”

But the fly in the ointment is that this whole discussion/process will have to happen and the judge will have to rule on these things and she could end up taking a very long time again (she’s shown a tendency to do that after all). While all of that is happening, the injunction is still in place and the ‘End of Bancroft Zoo’ is still open for business.

In that sense, that’s why the ruling was a victory for the tree-sitters. All of the activities I live blogged, were likely for not. It’s going to take weeks if not months to get this all cleared up. The University is not going to want to have to have round-the-clock security while that is happening to prevent the tree-sitters from re-entering the trees and so they’re not going to remove them from the trees until this is all resolved. Of course, in the intervening time, the tree-sitters will rebuild all of their platforms and rope bridges and everything that was just taken down. They’ll force the University to go through the same shenanigans when the final approval is pounded out.

However, that HUGE grain of salt notwithstanding, this was a victory for the Bears. There’s nothing in this ruling that is not resolvable. It’s just going to take a bit more time. I have a hard time believing the judge is going to require a recirculation, particularly considering how she ruled regarding the COB’s objections regarding late changes to the EIR that did not get recirculated. So I think we’re talking on the order of weeks and that before the season starts, the injuction will be lifted.

I’ll let you decide if that’s good enough to call this a victory.

Court Ruling: Eye of the Beholder Edition

UC Berkeley says the ruling is a “major victory.”

The oak people “are ecstatic” and “believe this project is now dead.”

Who do you believe? I’ve read most of the ruling and it sure sounds like the university has won most of the major points. However, it may take time for Cal to amend the plans for the SAHPC, and of course as soon as they do there will probably be more court shenanigans.

So for me, to sum it up: The university has won more than it lost, but it’s not a complete victory, and at this point any delay is a victory for the anti-stadium crusaders.

I do hope this means they can start cutting down trees, though. Because I am an evil tree-hater. Who rides the bus.

Court ruling in PDF form

Frustrated by the terrible Java image-viewer provided by the County of Alameda, I’ve ripped out all the TIFF images and made a PDF for easy viewing.

Stadium Ruling PDF

(Updated to include OCRed text for searchability.)

LIVE BLOGGING – DAY 2: Court ruling day activities

(Starting at 10:00 AM)

So far no ruling. Nobody knows when to expect that it appears. I thought it would be posted first thing in the morning. It is not on the Alameda County court case webpage yet. I’ve also checked just about every news source I can think of: BearInsider, CalBears.com, SF Chron, CC Times, KCBS, KGO, KTVU, KGO-TV, KPIX, NBC11 and a bunch of blogs. So far all of the coverage, and it is substantial, just surrounds the activities at the grove and the tree sitters.

UPDATE as of 11:00 AM:

For the record, here are the latest news links, KTVU video, KGO-TV (two good videos), KPIX video, NBC11 article, KGO audio, KCBS article and podcast and SF Chronicle. Still no signs of a ruling. Word on the street is that it will be faxed to the lawyers. I’m sure it’ll be an hour or two between when they get it and when the first word of what it says leaks to the public (they need to read it first).

UPDATE as of 11:15 AM:

I haven’t been monitoring the Daily Cal this morning until now. Here is their latest article from last night.

UPDATE as of 11:45 AM:

The YouTuber bcitizen has posted a new video. In addition to the usual ramblings, it has video of the actual extraction of the tree-sitter and associated screaming.

UPDATE as of 1:30 PM:

Still nothing. We’re all waiting. I can’t understand how this wouldn’t have been released at 8:00 AM this morning. Is the judge really still working on this? Does it take the courts half a day to push send on a fax machine? What’s the story!?!

I’ll post as soon as I know anything.

UPDATE as of 3:30 PM:

Well, still no ruling, but there has been one notable update to come out of the media around a midday incident. The tree-sitters have built what looks like a new platform well above the tree-line that they’re calling the “God pod” and looks like a crud crows-nest in an old ship well above the sails. My guess is that it was done overnight. In any case, the point of this platform is to put the tree-sitter in a precarious position where any attempt to either compromise the platform or to remove the tree-sitter will likely result in a VERY long fall. There’s no other branches or ropes or anything to prevent a disasterous collapse/fall. With the arborists working in the vacinity the tree-sitter got very aggitated and started vigorously shaking her little platform. It’s a “no lose” situation for her. If it collapses, she can attempt blame her fall on them getting to close. It’s a bit like holding a gun to one’s head and saying “don’t come any closer”. Here is some video of the incident: KTVU has weak footage. ABC’s video has a better angle.

UPDATE as of 3:45 PM:

A small note, CBS says the expect the ruling “before 5:00 PM”. It’s not exactly coming from a very authoritative source (not being the judge or the courthouse), but at least something to keep our weakening hopes, as the day drags on, alive.

UPDATE as of 5:00 PM:

Still no word… the Alameda County Courthouse website has been brought to its knees. One can only assume that’s from all of us Bear fans.

UPDATE as of 5:30 PM:

Word on the street is that the University will be having a press conference at… take your finger off the big red button Mr. President… 7:00 PM tonight. The webpage for the court case has not been updated and it’s now well after closing hours for them, so I fully expect that IF we hear word today, it’s going to be via the University or the tree-sitter supporters. My guess is that we’ll hear from the tree-sitters first if the University really is going to wait until a press conference to say anything. The bad news there is the quality of the information received will be less than reliable.

UPDATE as of 6:30 PM:

The ruling has been released and it looks like it is a mixed decision, which means it is a loss as far as I’m concerned. I’m reading it and will post more shortly.

UPDATE as of 7:00 PM:

OK. It is indeed a mixed decision, but the VAST majority of it is favorable to Cal. I don’t know what this all means yet, but it seems like it will mean some sort of a delay, potentially a short one (although this is very unclear to me at this juncture) while Cal goes through the process of correcting the errors and getting the court to sign off on them. The big question, one I don’t have an answer to yet, is whether it will have to go through public comment again and whether the Regents will have to re-approve it. Those are the two things that would turn a short delay into a long delay.

I will post a detailed analysis later tonight.

LIVE BLOGGING: Tree-Sitters being removed… er… maybe not…

Word on the street from the Oak Grove is that the Tree Sitters are being removed RIGHT NOW at 8:00 AM on Tuesday 6/17. It looks like the University has decided to remove them the day before the ruling, which is a big surprise to most. That of course makes it a wise strategy as the element of surprise is key.

UPDATE as of 8:45 AM:

According to KTVU, they’re just doing pre-emptive cleanup of the surrounding trees and removing ropes and the such: “While claiming they will not be forcibly removing any of the protesters, police told reporters they were “cleaning up the mess” created in the trees and on the ground underneath.”

The Daily Cal has a short article as well that suggests the University really is trying to take the sitters out today.

UPDATE as of 9:00 AM:

KCBS’s report suggests the same thing, that they’re not actually removing the sitters right now, just all of the surrounding structures and stuff. The Contra Costa Times is more vague still.

UPDATE as of 9:30 AM:

The SF Chronicle has their first article up. That article is the only one I’ve found with a direct quote from a University official confirming they’re not actually intending on taking the sitters out right now: “Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for the university, said, “We are removing gear and removing lines. We are not removing people.”

UPDATE as of 10:00 AM:

The news reports seem to be slowing down at this point. I’ve checked just about every local source to see if someone has an inside scoop that the others don’t and everyone seems to have the same basic storyline: A bunch of University police as well as a bunch equipment and a working crew came to the grove early this morning in what looked like the University deciding to remove the tree-sitters. The tree-sitters paniced and sent out their “all-hands” messages trying to get all of their supporters down there. The University then clarified that they were in clean-up and preparation mode. They were going to be removing structures and ropes and the such, but the tree-sitters would get to stay… for now.

As for my thoughts on these actions, it seems to me it would have been wise to just do the deed now. What has happened instead is that this has raised everyone’s awareness of their intent to do it sometime soon and that means the protest and the such that will result will be larger. Perhaps their thinking was that by cleaning things up ahead of time, when they get the ruling tomorrow AM, they’ll be ready to rock and roll right away. They seem to be sticking to the philosophy that there is no reason to remove them until the injunction is lifted. I’ve agreed with that philosophy while we were in the long waiting period. It seems to me that it would be wise at this point to either do it right away or wait another week or so. My prediction was that they’d do it next Monday or Tuesday if the injunction was lifted. That’ll give the protestors their chance to protest but allow it to die out after the intervening weekend. When most of them went back to their regular lives next week, that’s when they would act. Perhaps that is still the plan but they wanted to get things as cleaned up as possible now, before the protests start in earnest, so that when next week comes, they’ll be that much more ready.

UPDATE as of 11:00 AM:

All the articles out there are slowly adding updates (the above links are still accurate) to fill in some of the minor details. The one thing I found notable in the updates was this statement for the reason for the actions: “Mogulof said the operation was timed to “keep a small element of surprise” and to try to keep more protesters from ascending the grove of oaks and other trees when Judge Barbara Miller issues her decision Wednesday.”

I’m not so sure I agree with the “element of surprise” aspect, because you only get to use that once, and now it’s used up… at least for a while, but the “keep more protesters from ascending” argument is a great one. I hadn’t thought about that aspect in my above analysis. Right now only the hard-core 4 people are up there (at least that’s the best guess). They’ll stay up there no matter what. However, there is a whole 2nd tier that would consider going into the trees for a shorter period of time, particularly once the “creature comforts” of ample platform space and a network of ropes were in place. Take away those comforts, make them share a very limited amount of platform space (only the spaces that the current 4 could protect) and make them climb up under their own power without the assistance of ropes, and it’s far less likely that 2nd tier are going to go up there. That’ll ensure that come removal day there are only 4 to remove, not 10-20.

UPDATE as of noon:

Just about all of the major articles were updated, most keeping the same links. The Contra Costa Times article is at a new link as is the Daily Cal’s article and the ABC/KGO article is now long enough to be worth linking.

The long and short of it is that the previous storyline is still accurate. They’ve just been rounded out to include more quotes from all the relevant parties.

In all of the updates, the comment that stuck out to me was good ‘ol RunningWimp: “In response to the campus’ move to remove the protesters’ supplies from the trees, RunningWolf said he is planning to file a formal complaint against the actions of UCPD officers and arborists at the grove. “You’re treating these protesters like criminals,” he said. “We’ve had four people that have had their lives in danger.”” Um… RunningWimp… they ARE criminals! It’s been to court and the court ruled that they were criminally in violation of the law and could be forcibly removed if the University so desired. So, I repeat, they ARE criminals.

I expect there to be a few videos available to link to from the 12:00 news shows before too long.

UPDATE as of 3:00 PM:

KTVU has posted the on-site press conference with Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof. What is most notable about the press conference is that he said “there are no plans to forcibly remove” the tree-sitters. I don’t know if that’s just a delay tactic to not address the issue if they don’t come down voluntarily (yeah right), or if they’re really going to play the waiting game and just under-cut their support until they come down themselves. ABC has a news report from their midday news program. It is associated to the article linked above.

UPDATE as of 3:45 PM:

CBS now has a couple of videos on the sidebar of their latest article. There are some WHACKED out people in this world… as noted by the first video. The second video is from the same press conference that was on KTVU.

UPDATE as of 4:15 PM:

The Tree-Sitter supporter who goes by the YouTube login ‘bcitizen’ has posted a YouTube video of today’s activities. It’s the standard Ayr and RunningWimp tirades where they exagerate and lie about what is being done. Nevertheless, it’s worth posting.

UPDATE as of 10:30 PM:

All of the stations had video updates for the evening news. I thought the KTVU video was the best, but here is NBC and CBS (video on sidebar) (no ABC video right now).

The only real notable update is that one of the tree-sitters was actually removed from the trees. However, it wasn’t a trial-run or something like that. The woman actually bit one of the arborists. Yes, you read that right. Bit. As in using her teeth to take the flesh from another person. As in what my three year-old son is old enough to already stop doing. In any case, apparently that’s were the University’s very generous line is, because that crossed it and she was pulled down from the trees and arrested.

That’s it for the updates today. Expect full analysis of the ruling tomorrow as soon as it is available, which I am hoping/expecting will be very early in the day.

SAHPC court ruling to be released on Weds. 6/18!

Well, so much for the “the ruling will likely be out early” thoughts as Judge Miller has announced that the ruling will be announced on the deadline for her to issue a ruling, Wednesday June 18th. What the ruling will say… that’s still anyone’s guess. I’ve heard some say that her taking so long to deliberate means it must be good for us, because she couldn’t have anything that was a red-flag for her that would have caused her to rule against us quickly. Personally, I take the opposite approach to think that she must have found the case compelling enough that she had to think about it for an extended period of time. The likelihood that in all of that thinking at least one of the claims made by the prosecution wasn’t good enough to slow the project seems small to me.

So count me in the pessimist crowd on this one.

In any case, we’ll see on Wednesday.

Looking back on ’05: Wrapping it up

In the last 6 1/2 weeks I’ve written 24,000 words of blog posts on the 2005 football season. (For what it is worth, an average book is between 50,000 and 100,000 words, so I wrote (and you have read) about 1/2 a short book.) In all of those words, did we learn anything?

First of all, I found that Ayoob wasn’t as bad as I had remembered except for a couple games. Tedford’s analysis that he lost his confidence was more true than I remembered. In his worst games he was tenative, throwing late and without any authority. In contrast, he showed signs of being a solid QB at other points in the season. While I think going with Longshore for the 2006 season was the right choice, I think those with an open mind (of which there were few after 2005) would have been pleasantly surprised if Ayoob was given the reigns in 2006. Sometimes an off-season is very valuable to recover from confidence problems and also to help the game slow down. All of that said, he would never have been as consistent as any of us expect.

The other thing I saw regarding the quarterbacks was that Levy was both every bit as good a replacement as I remembered and somewhat limited in his ability. I’m pretty confident that if Levy was forced into the position Longshore was in 2007 (a difficult to play through injury), he would not have had the fall Longshore did. Levy was a no-excuses, we’re going to get this done, QB. I’m pretty confident he’d be one of those QB’s who could have willed his way through just about any injury. On the other hand, I don’t think he has the talent to ever be a Rodgers or even a Boller.

As for other observations, the offensive line, although very good, was not as dominant as I remembered it being. I remembered it being just a beast of a line, unequaled in Cal history. Now I don’t quite think that was the case. Their pass-projection was not the best and they could have opened more holes for Lynch if they were really the beasts my memory had pinned them as.

Who had more of my respect than before I watched was the defense. Minus the corner problems against WSU, they played a solid season and always kept the Bears in games they never deserved to be in. It was clear that they were expected to carry the load and they rose to the occassion. Unlike 2007 where the defense was just supposed to keep the bleeding to a minimum and the offense was expected to put the Bears over the top, in 2005 there was no doubt the defense was the strong suit.

But more than anything, I spent a lot of time comparing 2005 to 2007 in my mind. The similarities are too hard to ignore. Both seasons started 5-0 and both had their first loss at the hands of an inferior opponent in a game that came right down to the wire. Both seasons went downhill fast from there, losing 4 of the next 5, with the only victory being an at home victory over a weak WSU squad that made all too close of a game of it. Both seasons ended with a bowl victory that went a long way to saving face.

With the similarities, it naturally begs the question, which season was worse? I’m going to go on record and say 2007 was far worse. There was no excuse for losing to Stanford last year. In 2005, the turn-around at the end of the season wasn’t just the last three quarters of the bowl game. It was a full two games including a convincing win over Stanford in Palo Alto. Additionally, while both Air Force and BYU were over-achievers for the bowl games they were slotted in, there is no doubt in my mind that BYU was the better of the two teams. Despite being the better of the two teams, Cal played a much more dominant game against BYU and never looked as vulnerable as they did against Air Force.

To further the point, it seems to me that the 2007 team was a much more proven team when the collapse happened. In 2005 the Bears suffered from a very back-loaded schedule. None of the non-conference opponents was very challenging and the slide started with the first capable team on the schedule. In 2007 the Bears however had beaten two very good teams in Tennessee and Oregon, the latter being on the road.
In addition, the quality of opponent during the slide was vastly different in the two seasons. In 2005, 3 of the 4 losses were to the best teams in the conference, USC, Oregon and UCLA. The 4th loss to Oregon State, was a loss to a very capable team. In 2007 the six losses included a crummy UCLA, a way over-rated ASU who the Bears had against the ropes and a ridiculously beatable Washington. Add in an inexcusable loss to Stanford and there’s no comparing the difficulty of games between the two seasons in the slide.

Vote in the new poll on the right with your opinion and tune in a day or two with my 2008 game-by-game predictions before I start my 2007 review next week.

Looking back on ’05: The Las Vegas Bowl

After the reversal of fortunes at the Big Game, confidence was high for the Las Vegas Bowl. Not only was it thought that Levy would improve on his more than acceptable performance against Stanford, but also that BYU would be an easy opponent to beat, not measuring up to the average quality of Cal’s opponents throughout the year. However, those who watched football closely knew that it was dangerous to underestimate BYU who had played an impressive season despite playing in a mid-major conference. There was also that fear in the back of all Bear fan’s minds that the Bears would not come to play, just as they had the previous year in the Holiday Bowl.

While the announcers seemed to indicate that the stadium was packed with BYU fans, the reality was that although BYU had more than half, both teams were well represented. Neither team had a substantial crowd advantage. Additionally, Bear fans were desperate for a reason to cheer after such a disappointing second half of the season.

Cal got the ball to start the game, getting the ball on the 35 yard-line after the kick sailed out of bounds. Lynch didn’t waste any time generating some offense getting the ball into BYU territory on the first play with a 22 yard catch and run. Two relatively easy 1st downs later with a couple of out patterns and the Bears were in the redzone. A personal foul on BYU for a late shove out of bounds and an offside penalty again on BYU gave the Bears a 1st and goal from the 3 yard-line. Lynch was able to run it in from there giving the Bears an all too easy touchdown to start the game, up 7-0.

BYU got the ball at the 20 after it was downed in the endzone. They proceeded to run three very ineffective plays, all intended to be passes, and although two were complete, none got more than a couple yards. BYU was given a reprieve when Harrison Smith ran into the kicker on the punt when he nearly blocked the punt. Nevertheless BYU made even less of the next series taking a sack, having a pass nearly picked off and an incomplete had BYU punting for a second time. Cal looked ready to romp.

On the Bears next drive they continued to show the domination they had on the first drive. However, after the Bears got a 1st down at the BYU 37 yard-line, the drive stalled. For the first time in his two starts Levy missed his targets on two consecutive plays setting up a 3rd and 10 where the BYU blitz was able to force Levy to pull the ball down and run, coming up well short of the 1st down. The Bears punted despite being in range for a 54 yard field-goal, pinning BYU at their own 6 yard-line.

BYU was able to generate some offense on their next possession, starting with a rush to the outside that went for 15 yards. Then on the next set of downs, Cal forced a 3rd and 2 before BYU’s leading receiver pulled down an amazing catch to extend the drive. On the next 3rd down it seemed like the Bears had BYU on the ropes when there were 4 defenders boxing in the receiver on the dump out pattern. Somehow the receiver managed to slip between two of them to setup a 4th and 1 that BYU was able to convert. After getting another 1st down on a broken play where the quarterback was able to scramble, BYU was all the way down into the Cal redzone where they completed a nice crossing route pattern to tie the game at 7-7.

Cal didn’t waste any time striking back. First they were able to get the ball out to the 48 yard-line on the kickoff. Then Jackson and Forsett were able to combine on two plays to get the ball down to the BYU 38. Then Levy threw a great pass to Jordan in the endzone where the defenders only option was to foul or give up the touchdown. After the penalty was assessed, Marshawn was able to run it in from just outside the redzone, breaking it outside when the inside seam didn’t open. The Bears offense was back on track, up 14-7.

All of the pressure the Bears had been putting on BYU quarterback John Beck bore fruit on their next possession when a rushed throw gave Harrison Smith an easy opportunity to intercept the ball. Unfortunately a botched handoff between Levy and Forsett set the Bears back on the resulting 1st down for the Bears when the ball retreated a few yards back in the pocket before Forsett could jump on the ball. After an incompletion setup a long 3rd down attempt, the Bears were forced to punt when the promising screen pass to Lynch didn’t get the 1st down with Lynch getting tangled with one of his blockers.

After BYU was forced to punt on a 3 and out, the Bears went back to work with the run game, picking up good chunks on each run. However, after picking up a couple 1st downs, a passing play was called on 1st down and Levy was sacked. With Cal playing behind the chains, BYU was able to force the punt.

BYU was pinned inside their own 10 yard-line again, this time from a block in the back penalty that negated a good return. BYU got away with one on 1st down when Beck was under great pressure. He tried to throw the ball away while he was falling down and it should have either been a safety if his knee was down (and it was close on the replay) or intentional grounding because the throw was to no one in particular and did not make it past the line of scrimmage. In either case, the refs missed the call and BYU got a second chance. Unfortunately for Cal, BYU made the most of the break on two plays. The first was a nice slant completion where the receiver was able to drag the corner for another 10 yards to the BYU 37. On the next play Beck aired it out to Todd Watkins for a 52 yard pass completion where he got well behind the safeties and was only tackled because the ball was under-thrown. The Bears seemed to have BYU in a bad spot when a holding penalty set 1st down and 20 from the 21 yard-line. However a busted play again resulted in a big gainer for Beck as he scrambled down to the Cal 6 yard-line. On 3rd down BYU was able to pound the ball into the endzone, tying the game yet again, this time 14-14.

With only 38 seconds left in the half, it seemed unlike the Bears could strike back before halftime. However, when the kickoff was returned to the 42 yard-line and a 15 yard pass-interference call got the ball into BYU territory with over 20 seconds left, there was reason to hope. Two incompletions later, Levy threw a nice out pattern to Jackson that was designed to get the ball past the 1st down marker and out of bounds to setup a field-goal attempt. However, the defender over-pursued and Jackson was able to cut it back inside and sprint to the endzone with 3 seconds left putting the Bears back up by a touchdown going into the locker room.

Summing the half, the Bears had been the dominant team and looked somewhat in control. However, the score was far tighter than the play on the field would suggest. BYU it seemed was making the most of their few opportunities as well as threading the needle when a tight play was needed. On the other side, while the Bears were executing on their opportunities, they seemed to only barely be taking what BYU was offering. It seemed that Cal should have been exploiting BYU more than it was. Nevertheless confidence was high that Cal could and would take control of the game in the 2nd half.

After BYU got the ball to start the 2nd half and could only muster one 1st down, the Bears went back to the run game on the first two plays. With BYU expecting more of the same on the next play the completion to Jackson for 19 yards was all too easy. Two plays later Lynch busted what was one of his signature plays of his Cal career. Slipping up a seam in the middle he was hit by two defenders 15 yards out from the endzone. He then dragged them both down to the 5 yard-line where he dove into the endzone with the two defenders being sloughed off. The Bears were up by more than a single score for the first time, up 28-14.

BYU was able to get a couple of 1st downs on their next possession, again threading the needle on a couple of critical and drive sustaining completions. However, the Bears were able to force a punt on the third set of downs. The downside of having given up those 1st downs was that BYU was in position to punt the ball deep in the Cal redzone, forcing the Bears to start from their own 4 yard-line.

The bad field position didn’t bother Lynch who dragged BYU defenders for a 9 yard gain on the 1st play and then squirted through a small hole for a 25 yard gain on the second play. Two plays later DeSean Jackson turned what was supposed to be a quick out-pattern into an inadvertent reverse getting the ball down to the BYU 22. Levy rewarded Jackson for his effort with a nice fade pattern to the corner of the endzone that Jackson was able to dive for, putting the Bears well ahead with just over a quarter left, up 35-14.

BYU was able to chip away at the Bears on their next possession. The Cal defense was clearly determined to keep everything in front of them. Nevertheless, it was a disappointing drive because the Bears could never come up with the stop, with BYU able to complete the touchdown drive with a quick wide receiver screen for a touchdown pass from the 7 yard-line. The Bears were down to a 2 score lead just into the 4th quarter, the Bears up 35-21.

The Bears continued to move the ball on their next drive. An impressive tackle busting catch and run by tight-end Eric Beegun was partially called back by a downfield holding penalty taking nothing away from the impressiveness of the play but losing the Bears 14 yards. With the ball at midfield, Cal ran it on all three plays of the next series with Lynch being stuffed on 3rd and 5, forcing the punt.

Lonie was able to punt yet another one inside the BYU 5 yard-line, again forcing BYU to go the full length of the field if they were going to score. BYU got themselves out of the shadow of their own endzone on a swingout pass that went for 22 yards. They were then able to get out to midfield on a bogus personal foul against Bishop who shoved Beck out of bounds just as Beck was getting there himself. Three plays later, after Cal had forced an incompletion on 3rd and 10, BYU went for it on 4th down from midfield. For some reason, Mixon was playing way off the receiver and was unable to come back to the play giving BYU not only a 1st down but an 18 yard completion down to the Cal 31 yard-line. Then another bogus penalty on the Bears, a facemask penalty where the defender had grabbed the shoulder pad to whip the receiver around, got the ball down to the Cal 7 yard line and a 1st and goal. On 1st down, BYU’s run play was caught in the backfield for a loss of 2. On 2nd down the pass was deflected, setting up a critical 3rd and goal from the 9. The fade to the endzone was well defended and dropped incomplete. Cal had an opportunity to end the comeback on 4th down but somehow the out-pattern got around Mixon’s attempted slap-down and BYU was back in the game, the Bears lead now only a touchdown, 35-28.

With 5:35 left in the game, Cal went to the run game to try and run out the clock. Back to back runs by Lynch and Forsett went for 23 yards. After Lynch was held up on 2nd down, Levy completed another pass to Beegun who again ran it down the sideline breaking through a tackle for what would have been a 20 plus yard gain. However, yet again, a downfield hold brought the ball back to midfield. When Forsett ran for another 1st down, BYU started calling timeouts with 3:29 remaining. As if the BYU defense triggered on the timeout calls, they were finally able to slow the Cal running game and Cal was forced to try the 50 yard field-goal with 2:20 remaining to go up by two scores. For whatever reason, although the kick was true, it was well short and Schneider was unable to put the game away.

BYU was able to complete 4 consecutive passes, although one of them was called back for a holding penalty. Additionally, just as Cal had done on the previous possessions, they were able to keep the ball in front of them and only 1 of the 4 completions was for longer than 5 yards. On Beck’s 5th pass attempt, he made his second big mistake of the game, throwing the ball as he was grabbed from behind. The resulting wounded duck of a pass was easy pickings for Damien Hughes for his 5th interception of the season.

With that the game was over. Had Cal had someone checking the stats on the sideline, they would have run at least one down, giving the ball to Forsett to get him over the 1000 yard hump instead of his official 999 yards. But Cal didn’t and instead it was 3 consecutive kneel downs to end the game and the season.

Summing the game, the Cal offense finally got in gear in the 3rd quarter and likely would have been prolific throughout the 2nd half had it not been for the grind out the clock play calling in the 4th quarter. The defenses 2nd half performance, although good enough to get the job done, left something to be desired. In some sense they were just following orders and running the yet-to-be-named Bend But Don’t Break defense. On the other hand, they gave up two late touchdowns on long drives that should never have been. Nevertheless, after the mid-season struggles for the Bears, any victory, particularly over a team that gain the respect of many a Bear fan during the game, was one worth celebrating.

Tune in later today for a wrap-up of the 2005 season and later this weekend for my 2008 game-by-game predictions and the introduction to my 2007 season looking-back series.

Looking back on ’05: The Big Game

With Ayoob completely falling apart against USC, Tedford was left with little choice but to play Steve Levy at quarterback for the Big Game. Despite having a respectable showing in the few playing opportunities he had, Tedford had been very reluctant to make the switch. Stanford came into the Big Game with a great deal of confidence. After being picked to finished 9th in the Pac-10, they were 4-3 in conference play and only one win from bowl eligibility. They were actually ahead of Cal in the Pac-10 standings. Nevertheless it was assumed that Cal was the better team with Stanford having had some pretty unimpressive games in their record including a 17-20 loss to UC Davis. (Something Bear fans should never feel shy about rubbing in the face of CardinalNecks.)

Cal got the ball to start the game and decided to start with some trickery, a reverse to DeSean Jackson. However, Stanford’s lack of team speed worked to their advantage and their lack of pursuit left them in position to make the play. With Lynch able to get 5 yards on 2nd down, the Bears faced a 3rd and 3. Expecting Stanford to play the run against the inexperienced Levy, Tedford decided to call a quick slant which fell incomplete. The Bears were already looking weak.

Stanford had much better success on their first drive. They picked up one 1st down rushing the ball on both downs of the series, and another on a 15 yard pass to a wide open Mark Bradford. However, on their 3rd set of downs the Bears were able to clamp down and force the incompletion on 3rd down and the Cardinal had to punt.

On the ensuing series the Bears went back to the run game handing the ball off to Lynch on consecutive plays that both went for 9 yards. After a pass to provide some balance and a 5 yard rush by Forsett that gave Cal their third 1st down of the drive, Tedford decided it was time to test Levy’s arm calling for a deep pass down the sideline to Jackson. Cal fans everywhere went nuts as the under thrown ball was hauled in and doubly nuts when Jackson eluded the tackle of the corner and waltzed into the endzone. The Bears found themselves with a lead for the 1st time in 9 quarters, up, after the extra point attempt was blocked, 6-0.

Stanford’s next possession only buoyed the excitement of Bear fans. Although a good kickoff return got the ball out to the 37 yard-line, Stanford’s entire offense consisted of quarterback Trent Edwards scrambling for his life. Twice he avoided the rush and was able to run for a positive yards, including picking up a 1st down. However, the trend wouldn’t continue and Edwards was sacked on their second 3rd down, forcing another punt.

The Bears next offensive series was a dud with a screen on 3rd down not working, giving Stanford back the ball. Again, Stanford couldn’t make any progress and again Cal didn’t make the most of their possession, with both teams trading punts a total of 2 times each. However, Stanford had been winning the punting and hence the field position game, getting the ball on Cal’s 47 yard-line at the end of that exchange of punts. All it took was a couple of 1st downs by Stanford and they were in field-goal position. After Cal was able to stuff a rush by J.R. Lemon, Cal was able to pin their ears back with Stanford playing behind the chains. A dump off pass and an incompletion later, Stanford converted the 37 yard field-goal shirking the Cal lead to 3, up only 6-3.

After the Bears had another 3 and out without finding any significant success, Bear fans began to worry that the long pass from Levy to DeSean had been a fluke and the Cal offense would be meager at best. The upside was that Stanford was fairing no better. In fact, as with previous years, the Stanford quarterback found himself getting hit and hit hard play after play, taking yet another sack before punting back to the Bears.

On the Bears next possession, the punishing run style of Lynch started to bear some fruit, picking up big chunks on consecutive plays. After Levy ran for the second 1st down of the drive, the ball was out to near midfield. However, on the next set of downs, Stanford clamped down on the run. They stuffed Lynch on 1st down and Levy was sacked on 2nd down and then took a coverage sack on 3rd and 17. Nevertheless, even though the Bears had to punt again, the offense was showing signs of life.

After Stanford was forced to punt again, Cal got the ball back with 46 seconds left on the clock. While Cal was content to run out the clock, Stanford insisted on trying to get the ball back one more time. After Cal was unable to get the 1st down, it looked like Stanford had played things right, getting the ball with about 30 seconds left. However, a roughing the kicker penalty negated the plan and Cal was able to go to the locker room without any more damage done.

Summing the 1st half, the Bear offense had been less than inspiring. However, there were signs that the running game was starting to bear fruit because of Lynch’s bruising style. Also, although he had made his share of mistakes, Levy looked to have more promise than Ayoob and had not make the critical errors that had crippled the offense. The defense on the other hand had played remarkably well. The pressure on Trent Edwards was unrelenting and Stanford was unable to generate any offense of note.

Stanford’s first possession of the 2nd half was also Trent Edward’s last. The pounding he had taken all 1st half finally caught up with him and he limped off the field with a shoulder injury. Without Edwards, Stanford was forced to go to the ground and was soon forced to punt.

Cal continued with their strategy of pounding the ball to Lynch. After working somewhat effectively, Stanford forced a 3rd and 5. When Levy dropped back to pass and saw the linemen over-pursue, he took his experience as a fullback with him as he ran not only for a 1st down but for 21 yards down to the Stanford 34. Levy then ran a designed quarterback draw on the next play for another 10 yards putting Cal just outside the redzone with a 1st down. Forsett capped the drive with Stanford now on their heels on a 21 yard touchdown run. While Cal fans were hoping for a bunch more offense from their Bears, with the lack of Stanford offense, there was great hope that the 13 points the Bears had scored at this point would be enough, the Bears up 13-3.

After Stanford was forced to punt again, Levy made two big completions, the bigger of the two being a 26 yard pass to Craig Stevens taking the ball well into Stanford territory. Unfortunately Levy made the kind of mistake that inexperienced quarterbacks are known to make, trying to pass the ball back across the field after rolling out. Instead of hitting Stevens for another 1st down, it was intercepted, for Levy’s first big mistake of his Cal career.

Stanford was unable to make anything out of their possession off the turnover. Cal, with the 3rd quarter winding down, went back to the run game to run down the clock. After getting one 1st down, the Bears were saddled with a 10 yard penalty that had the Bears playing behind the chains and the Stanford defense was able to hold the Bears and force the punt.

Stanford was able to get two big plays on their next possession. The first was a 22 yard pass to the outside that got the ball onto the Cal side of the field for the first time in a long while. The second was a marginal catch along the sideline that got the ball down to the Cal 15 yard-line, the Cardinal’s first visit of the game. At that point the Cal defense stiffened and forced the field-goal attempt. Luckily for the Bears, the Stanford kicker pushed the kick and it sailed wide right, keeping intact the Bears’ two score lead.

The Cal offense found some life on the next series. Forsett escaped a facemask to run for a 29 yard run that with the penalty got the ball down to the Stanford 21 yard line. Then Robert Jordan had a nice catch and run for 13 yards down to the 8 yard-line, setting up 1st and goal. Marshawn then finished off the drive with a walk-in touchdown off the edge to put the Bears up by a commanding 20-3.

What slim hope their was for Stanford when, after crossing midfield, Ostrander was sacked yet again and the ball popped loose, giving Cal the ball back with less than 6 minutes left in the game. Cal continued to pound the ball with Lynch busting a 22 yard run down to the Stanford 17 yard-line. Cal then officially put the dagger in with a halfback pass from Terrell Williams to Craig Stevens for a touchdown, the lead up to 27-3.

After Stanford was unable to make anything of their next possession Cal was able to run out the clock.

Summing the game, Steve Levy had provided a spark that excited all Cal fans. However, it bears noting that although his performance was good enough to force the Cardinal to play Cal balanced, it was still an uneven performance. Minus the early long TD pass that will stick with long time Bear fans forever, farily little of the meaningful offense for the Bears was through the air. Although Ayoob’s last few games had been a disaster and there was no reason to think the Big Game would have had any better, his performance against some early teams, notably Washington, were better performances than Levy had against Stanford. However, Cal fans had lowered their expectations as the season had continued. This win really belonged to the defense getting the ball back to the offense time and time again, giving them ample opportunity to wear down the Stanford defense and easily win the game.

Would Levy’s performance be good enough to win a bowl game? Tune in on Wednesday to find out.

Looking back on ’05: USC

When the 2005 season started, every Bear and every USC fan had this game circled on their calendar. For that matter, just about every one in college football had it circled on their calendar. It was one of two games that might trip up the mighty Trojans. The last time USC had played in Berkeley they had lost in triple overtime. Additionally, the previous year had Cal nearly pulled the upset down in LA. If this was going to be the year that Cal broke their Rose Bowl drought, the day that was going to be accomplished was the day they beat #1 USC.

However, while USC had met their side of the deal and came into Berkeley undefeated, Cal, as has been well documented here, had not lived up to expectations. In fact, after the Oregon game, the ugliest game of the season for the Bears, there was little hope that the Bears would beat a rolling USC team. There were even student commentators who went so far as to say that it would be a good thing for the Bears to lose this game for the good of the conference.

Cal got the ball to start the game. What little optimism there was amongst Bear fans was buoyed on the first play when Lynch was able to run off tackle for a solid 8 yard gain. In 2003, it had been the dominance of the Bears on the line of scrimmage that had vaulted them to victory. After the fullback crash got more than enough yards to convert on 3rd and 2, there was reason to believe the offensive line had come to play. After Lynch got 6 yards on 2 rushes on the next set of downs, Ayoob crushed all Bear fans by throwing an interception. Ayoob and Jackson were not on the same page with Jackson cutting out and Ayoob throwing the quick slant right into the safety’s hands.

USC quickly showed Bear fans what their offense would look like if they had Matt Lienart instead of Ayoob. While the Cal defense did a great job of not allowing the big play, Leinart always found the open receiver including completing two 3rd down throws to keep the 47 yard, 9 play touchdown drive alive. Cal found themselves in a hole early against a team they could afford no mistakes against, down 0-7.

Cal went back to the ground game on their next drive. Forsett and DeSean Jackson on a reverse got a 1st down for the Bears and a 15 yard facemask penalty put the Bears quickly in USC territory. Lynch then busted a 12 yard run to the USC 29 yard line. USC’s defense then emphatically declared that they had had enough of the Bears man-handling them in the running game. Two consecutive rushes to Lynch were stuffed and then Ayoob’s scrambling completion was only good for a couple yards setting up the 49 yard field goal attempt which Schneider easily made, getting the Bears on the scoreboard now down only 3-7.

On USC’s next possession, Lienart and LenDale White were able to again chip away at the Bear defense getting the ball down the Cal 36 with a 1st down. The Bears were able to nearly sack Lienart on 1st down, however Lienart was able to throw the ball away after slipping out of the first tackle. On 2nd down the Bears were able to finally get to Lienart as he struggled to pick up a bad snap. After offsetting penalties gave USC a second chance at 3rd and 14, the Bears had great coverage forcing Lienart to over throw his outlet receiver, forcing the punt.

After the 1st down run was stuffed run and Ayoob was tripped coming away from center on 2nd down, Ayoob ran on what appeared to be a quarterback draw on 3rd and 11. The play was only good for 5 yards and the Bears had to punt, giving USC the ball back far too quickly to give the defense a chance to rest. Nevertheless the Bears came up with a 3rd down stop after a couple of 1st downs. However, with the ball on the Cal 30, USC went for it on 4th down. Unfortunately a bogus pass interference call on Hughes both because his hand play was not enough to warrant the penalty and the catch would have been out of bounds regardless, kept the drive alive. USC kept chipping away at the Bears. The drive was capped on 3rd and goal from the 6 when the Bears had all the receivers well covered but Leinart was able to elude the pursuit and run it in for an easy touchdown. The Bears were in a sizeable deficit midway through the 2nd quarter, 3-14.

The Bears didn’t do anything to help their defense on the next offensive possession again going 3 and out with Ayoob again throwing a dangerous pass on 3rd down that narrowly avoided being intercepted. The Bear defense came up with a 3 and out stop of their own, getting the Bears the ball back. Unfortunately it was another 3 and out for the Bears with the boo-birds starting to come out when Ayoob missed two different receivers on 2nd and 3rd down.

Proving that you just can’t give USC this many offensive opportunities, they got their first big play of the game with Dwayne Jarrett catching a 44 yard pass setting up a 1st and goal from the 8 yard-line. On 2nd down Leinart, who is not known for his running skills, beat the Cal defense scrambling to the endzone. As much as the defense was accounting for all of USC’s weapons, it couldn’t additionally account for Leinart running the ball. The score was now a nearly unassailable 3-21.

Manderino gave the offense their first spark since the 2nd drive of the game, finding a nice seam down the middle to exploit on the fullback rollout pass. But just like the previous time the Bears seemed to get something going, Ayoob killed all of the little momentum the Bears had generated by throwing another interception. While this one was tipped, it was both a bad read, throwing into double coverage and off the mark.

With just over two minutes left in the half, USC was in position to really break the game open, giving the Bears no hope for recovery in the locker room. However, the Bears were able to force the 3 and out, giving the Bears one last chance with just under a minute left and the ball on their own 34 yard-line after the punt and short return. The Bears could only get the ball to the USC 41 yard-line when they had to throw their desperation throw into the endzond. While the interception that resulted hurt even further Ayoob’s stats and was not the hail mary pass that Tedford had wanted, instead throwing a bullet, it was not a play that was likely to have any success had it been executed properly.

Summing the half, Ayoob continued his decline in dramatic fashion. While in past games Ayoob had been a liability in the sense that he couldn’t do anything positive allowing the defense to focus on stopping the run, in this game just about every throw he threw was a disaster with two horrendous interceptions. On the positive side, the Cal defense had played pretty well against one of the best offenses in recent college football history. Only giving up 21 points in the 1st half when the offense wasn’t doing anything to shorten the game, was something to be proud of particularly their efforts to ensure that USC earned each of their touchdowns, refusing to give up the big play. For the 2nd year in a row they had held Reggie Bush in check, something no other team seemed to be able to do.

USC got the ball to start the 2nd half. Cal forced a 3rd and 10 early in the possession. Again another busted play hurt the Bears. This time it was Leinart buying time running sideways down the line of scrimmage instead of trying to run for the 1st down and finding LenDale White open past the chains who was not only able to get the 1st down but run the ball down a seam in the secondary for 49 yards all the way down to the Cal 6 yard-line. Two plays later USC had scored another touchdown and the game was more than effectively out of reach, Cal down 3-28.

The Cal offense seemed to have better rhythm on their first possession of the 2nd half. A screen pass to Lynch went for 22 yards and Ayoob completed two additional passes both designed to get Ayoob some confidence back. Lynch then dropped an acceptably well thrown pass that would have gotten the Bears into the USC redzone for the first time all game. Instead the Bears were forced to attempt a 41 yard field-goal. Unable to get a break, Schneider’s kick hooked late and just missed outside the up-right.

USC was again able to chip away at the Cal defense getting the ball down to the Cal 30 again. Again the Bears held on 3rd down and again USC went for it with the ball barely in long field-goal range. This time the Bears were not robbed by a bogus call as Cal was able to sack Leinart and get the ball back.

Unfortunately while Ayoob avoided another painful mistake, Forsett did not. After making a good gain up the middle, he fumbled the ball as he was hit right at midfield. However, for the first time all game, USC themselves made a mistake. Leinart made another good throw down the middle but the receiver let it bounce off his hands and into the hands of Harrison Smith who was able to run the ball back out to midfield.

Lynch then got the ball down into the USC redzone busting a nice run to the outside and out running a number of USC defenders on his 35 yard run. Another 1st down got the ball down to the 8 yard-line. After the teams switched ends to start the 4th quarter, Cal got the ball down to the 3 on two runs. Tedford called a passing play on 3rd down and after Ayoob scrambled to buy time, he refused to get rid of the ball when no one was open and took a sack back to the USC 11 yard-line. Being at the desperation point, Cal went for it on 4th down. Ayoob threw yet another terrible pass to a well covered David Gray that was easily intercepted, Ayoob’s 4th, ending what was the Bears best offensive opportunity to this point in the game.

USC again chipped away at the Bear defense. After USC had crossed midfield, the frustration of the Bears set in. They were hit with two personal foul penalties for late hits. In combination with another few rushing attempts, those penalties got the ball into the Cal redzone. The tired Cal defense was no match for the powerful USC rushing game and 3 plays later the Bears were facing their worst deficit of the season, 3-35.

With Joe Ayoob having completely lost his touch and his confidence, Steve Levy got his first shot at playing time in a long while. Levy completed his first pass on a rollout to Manderino. Unfortunately on the next play as Levy was scrambling forward for some yardage, he was stripped of the ball as he was being tackled. His inexperience had caught up with him and USC got the ball back.

With USC putting in their backups with less than six minutes left in the game, Cal was able to force the punt and get the ball back. Levy threw another completion on his next attempt, the first play of the next drive on a quick slant. Two consecutive completions later, the USC defense had to play the running game more balanced and the running game opened up. First Williams ran for 7 yards and then Levy ran for 19 yards on a busted play, getting the ball down to the USC 1 yard-line. From there Manderino got the touchdown on the fullback crash giving Cal their only touchdown of the game with 1:34 left, the score 10-35.

From there USC was able to run out the clock.

Summing up the game, Ayoob played by far his worst game, just when it seemed impossible for him to play worse than the Oregon game. Unlike so many other Tedford quarterbacks who were, after a painful learning curve, able to turn the corner and be a successful QB, Ayoob just continued to get worse and worse. But despite the ugly game, there were two significant positives. The first was the play of the defense. The final score of 10-35 reflected the Cal defense doing everything in their power to keep USC in check. There performance was perhaps their best of the season. The second positive was the play of Steve Levy who had come in after Ayoob flunked out and performed admirably.

Would Ayoob be replaced by Levy for the final game of the season, the Big Game? Find out on Sunday.

Maryland game to be on ESPN or ESPN2 at 9:00 AM PDT

Well the announcement is out on the game-time for the Maryland game (in Maryland). It will be on the ESPN network of stations with a noon local-time start (which means 9:00 AM here on the West Coast). This is not much of a surprise although the nice part it to know that the game won’t take a Thursday night slot. I’d really like to see two more games get selected for TV early, Washington State and Arizona. I say those two because those are the last two games I want to fly to and knowing the start time helps pick out what flights will work, particularly if I’m only hoping to stay one night. I’m hopeful that FSN will pickup the WSU game sometime here in the next month or so since it is so early in the season and their aren’t any good games that weekend that aren’t yet accounted for in the Pac-10.

See the article at CalBears.com for more info on the Maryland game TV contract.

Looking back on ’05: Oregon

The Bears instantly became a new nemesis of Oregon Duck fans when they took Oregon’s offensive coordinator as their head coach. Every Oregon game in the Tedford era had been a nailbiter including the previous year’s 28-27 victory in Berkeley. With the surprisingly difficult victory over WSU, there wasn’t much hope for a victory from realistic Bear fans until they found out that Oregon was going to be without their veteran quarterback Clemens who had a season ending injury the previous week. Dennis Dixon would be starting his first game in Clemens place. Perhaps Oregon being without a quarterback would level the playing field…

The Bears received the ball to start the game at the 35 after the kickoff was out of bounds. The rainy conditions showed their ugly head on the first play as Ayoob couldn’t hold on to the snap. Saving the team from disaster, Ayoob astutely dove on the ball. After Lynch was stuffed on 2nd down with Oregon loading the box, Ayoob was unable to complete the 3rd and long pass forcing the Bears to punt right away.

Oregon went straight to the quarterback draw on 1st down to loosen the Cal defense. The fruit of that strategy came on the next play when their running back was able to bust a big play over right tackle getting all the way down to the Cal 21 yard-line, instantly threatening to score. After a false start penalty and a poorly throw incompletion setup 2nd and 15, the Bears were able to clamp down and force the field-goal attempt. Life got even better for the Bears when the 37 yard kick sailed wide, keeping the game scoreless.

The Bears didn’t help their cause on their next possession when Lynch’s predictable runs on 1st and 2nd down netted only two yards. After a false start penalty setup 3rd and 13, the Bears opted for a screen to keep the pressure off Ayoob which would have been successful had it not been 3rd and 13, picking up only 9 yards before having to punt.

Oregon got the ball back just on their side of midfield. After the Bears defense pursued well on both 1st and 2nd down setting up a 3rd and 11, Dixon showed why he had so much promise completing his 1st 3rd down conversion as a starter. The Ducks escaped disaster of their own when the replay officials didn’t review a fumble that would have given the Bears the ball. The Ducks made the most of the opportunity on two plays, the first a swing out pass that got the Ducks in the redzone and the second a slant into the endzone for the Ducks first touchdown of the game. The Bears were in a hole early, 0-7.

The Bears found a way to get Lynch the ball in a way that Oregon wasn’t expecting, having him lineup in the slot receiver position but coming back to run a “narrow reverse”. That play seemed to loosen up the defense as both Lynch and Forsett were able to power their way down to the Oregon 22 yard-line. Ayoob made his first big mistake of the game on 1st down trying to make a desperate completion as he was about to step out of bounds instead of just throwing it away. To add insult to the injury of the interception that resulted was that the receiver had no shot at catching the ball.

The upside for the Bears was that Oregon was forced to start from their own 3 yard-line. It was all the Ducks could do to get some punting room in 3 plays. The Bears got the break they were looking for when DeCoud took a great route to the punter and was able to block the ball and it went flying out of bounds at the 1 yard-line. It only took the Bears one play running Lynch up the middle to tie the score at 7-7.

The Ducks got a good kickoff return out to the 40 yard-line. While the Bears were able to prevent the big play, the Ducks were able to chip away at the Bear defense getting the ball down to just outside the redzone when the 1st quarter ended. Another quick out pattern got the ball into the redzone, setting up 1st and 10 from the 13. The Bears sniffed out the next set of plays well, capped by a rushed throw on 3rd down when Mebane got through the line quickly. This time the field-goal attempt was good, although just barely and the Bears were back in a hole, this time 7-10.

The Bears half squandered what would have been great field position on kickoff when a 15-yard penalty (assumably a late hit personal foul) put the ball at the Cal 33 yard-line. Ayoob hit a nice out-pattern to get the Bears into Oregon territory. A misdirection play to Lynch then got the ball down to the Oregon 35. Unfortunately a sack on 3rd and 6 pushed the Bears out of marginal field-goal range. Lonie and Hughes did their best to make the most of the punt with Hughes batting the ball back out of the endzone after it landed at the 3. In the pros, the ball would have been at the 2 yard-line, but in college since it crossed the goal-line the ball came out to the 20.

After the Ducks got a single 1st down, the Bears brought a lot of pressure on every down of the next set and were able to force a punt with Dixon unable to find the open men in the few moments he was given. A short punt and a middle return by Mixon put the ball just on the Cal side of midfield. Sadly, Ayoob tried to force a 3rd down out pattern to DeSean Jackson which was intercepted at the Oregon 37 yard-line.

The Bears defense forced Dixon out of bounds for a 7 yard loss on 1st down. After a misdirection pass didn’t work as well as Oregon had hoped, Dixon tried to force a pass of his own. This time it was Hampton who was able to step in front of it and managed to run it all the way down to the Oregon 1 yard-line. Unfortunately an illegal block penalty brought the ball all the way back out to the 40 yard-line, killing what was likely a sure touchdown. Ayoob completed a 3rd and 8 pass to Jordan to keep the drive alive and Lynch ran a surprisingly quick outside run to get the Bears in the redzone. That allowed the Bears to salvage at least a field-goal after the 3rd down screen pass came up a couple yards short, tying the game 10-10.

Summing the 1st half, Ayoob had played yet another mediocre half and his two interceptions were ugly as they get. To some degree his first interception was ignorable because of the blocked punt on the ensuing Duck possession setup a Cal touchdown. The bigger picture however was that the Ducks were able to dramatically slow the Cal rushing game because they didn’t respect Ayoob’s passing game and Ayoob had done nothing to punish Oregon for taking that risk. The defense had played reasonably well, keeping the Bears in the game and getting the key stops necessary to prevent two redzone opportunities from turning into touchdows and only one being converted for a field-goal.

The Ducks went right to work after receiving the 2nd half kickoff. Again the running-back Whitehead had another big middle of the field running getting the ball down to the Cal 32. After Cal held at that point Oregon attempted a 49 yard field-goal which just cleared the crossbar by no more than a yard. The Bears were behind again, not 3 minutes into the 2nd half, down 10-13.

Ayoob made a big mistake on the 2nd play of Cal’s ensuing drive. On a 3 step drop he held onto the ball too long and instead of either throwing it away or taking the sack he tried to scramble just as he was being hit. The ball popped loose where Oregon was able to jump on top of it before Cal fans could throw up their hands in disgust. One play later a tired Cal defense put up little resistance to the 18 yard run by Whitehead and the Bears were in serious trouble, down 10-20.

After the Bears and Ducks traded punts, the Bears finally got some offense going. Manderino started off with a nice 14 yard catch and run off the rollout. Lynch kept it going with a another run where he bounced it outside going for 26 yards. After a stuffed run, an incomplete pass and a false start penalty setup a 3rd and 18 from the 35, Tedford called for a run play to ensure they got into field-goal range. Schneider rewarded the confidence with a near perfect 45 yard kick with plenty of leg to spare. The Bears were within one score, 13-20.

After the Bears forced a second consecutive 3 and out for the Ducks, Lynch busted a long touchdown run off right tackle where he found a sizeable hole to explode through and got to the endzone untouched. The Bears had unbelievably tied the game towards the end of the 3rd quarter, 20-20.

The Bear defense yet again held Oregon from making a 1st down. Ayoob had another chance to redeem himself when DeSean Jackson was streaking down the center of the field more than 5 yards behind his defender. Instead of Ayoob laying out a catchable ball, he over threw him yet again, for at least the third time in the game. One play later the Bears were forced to punt.

Although the Ducks were able to manage a 1st down on their next possession, they were still forced to punt by the ever stiffening Bear defense. Mixon nearly broke the return all the way only being barely forced out of bounds by the punter after Mixon had returned it for over 40 yards. For once Ayoob was not to blame for the mistake that killed the drive however. DeSean bobbled a well thrown ball and Oregon’s safety was able to cradle the ball before it hit the turf. It was the third interception of the game and yet another one in Oregon territory.

Oregon and Cal again traded punts. The one notable aspect in the trade was that Cal yet again missed an opportunity to pin the punt deep in Oregon territory. Lonie punted the ball where it bounced about the 7 yard-line in a textbook punt. DeCoud unfortunately decided to catch the ball instead of bat it back into play. It was unfortunate because while DeCoud was able to get to it before it crossed the goal-line he was unable to stop his momentum from crossing the goal-line and the ball came all the way out to the 20.

After Oregon got a couple 1st downs, the Bears again forced a punt with just over two minutes remaining. Of particular note was the final 3rd and 1 where Desmond Bishop shot through the line and caught Whitehead 4 yards in the backfield, not even giving Oregon a chance to think about going for it on 4th down around midfield.

The first key play of Cal’s final drive of regulation was a delayed handoff that got the ball from the 13 to the 45 yard-line. The next key play was a non-call on fairly blatant pass interference on a deep ball to DeSean Jackson. However, DeSean got a retribution pass interference call on the next play, a 3rd and 2 where instead Ayoob sent another deep pass after fake. With the ball now on the Oregon 33 with just under a minute remaining, Cal was marginally in field-goal range. However, Lynch was not only stuffed, but caught behind the line for a 7 yard loss back to the 40 yard-line, a key loss of field position. To make matters worse, a shovel pass was also caught in the backfield and the Bears were now at the 44 yard-line. Additionally, both of the previous plays left the clock running so timeouts had to be called, leaving Cal timeout-less with 30 seconds remaining. On 3rd down Cal needed approximately 10 yards, preferably 15 yards, and the clock stopped after the play. Instead a busted play had Ayoob running up the center of the field dragged down at the 37 yard-line. Miraculously, the special teams unit managed to both get on the field and get the kick off. Schnieder’s rushed attempt was long enough but a bit wide-left, missing by no more than a few feet. It was a noble attempt, but a failed one nevertheless.

Summing regulation, the heroes for Cal were the defense and Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was responsible for the vast majority of the offense in the game, and managing nearly 200 yards when the defense knows that Lynch is all the Bears have made it particularly impressive. The defense however was the more important of the two heroes, holding Oregon scoreless for nearly the entire 2nd half. Even the point total of 20 for Oregon was only half of their normal production. Sadly the offense as a whole was not living up to their side of the bargain with Ayoob under center.

With Brady Leaf taking over at quarterback in overtime (he had played a few series during the game), Oregon’s pass offense had the precision of a traditional Cal offense and on 6 plays, Oregon was in the endzone. With Cal needing a touchdown to match, desperation had set in. With Oregon determined not to let Lynch beat them, Ayoob was forced into action on 2nd, 3rd and 4th down after the rush on 1st down only gained 2 yards. Of particular note was the 4th down pass which worked to perfection, minus Ayoob’s execution. Ayoob over-threw the ball and had no touch on a ball that should have been dropped in there.

And so Cal lost another game. Another game that was eminently winnable. Ayoob continued to look worse and worse with each game instead of improving with each game as most Tedford coached quarterbacks, even the mediocre ones, seemed to do. To make matters worse, unlike the WSU game, a game that gave some hope that despite being inconsistent Ayoob may have some clutch throws in him, Ayoob was anything but clutch in overtime.

To make matters worse, the next game on the calendar was USC instead of some patsy. The USC game was supposed to be the showdown for the conference championship and it was in Berkeley. Instead it was a desperate and unlikely opportunity to get back on the winning path instead of falling through the floor.

Would Cal pull off the now unlikely upset? Find out on Thursday.