(Written by kencraw)
There are a number of things that set off red flags for me when looking at an upcoming game that the Bears are favored in:
- The opponent had a bye
- The opponent has been under-performing
- The opponent has typically had our number (should have been a red-flag against Oregon State)
- Cal has recently lost a game where their biggest strength was exposed
- Cal has an under-appreciated injury (no Enwere is not one)
- The game is not on Saturday (Cal is on a 7 game losing streak, the last win coming in 2005 at New Mexico St.)
- The opposing team has a really good defense
- The game is a road game
When 5 of my 8 red flags (1, 2, 3, 4 and 6) are going off, I’m going to be your source of doom and gloom.
The best case scenario is that Cal gets the offense back on track, manages to corral the Oregon rushing attack, but does it in a way that prevents the Oregon freshman QB (Justin Herbert) from finding his rhythm. But I think if any one of those things goes wrong, the Bears are doomed. Let’s take them one by one:
- Cal gets the offense back on track: My hope here is that we really can blame the passing game troubles against Oregon State on Webb’s injury. So far this season, press coverage on the Bears has not worked. It was really surprising that it worked so well for OSU. And while in the back of my head I know that this wouldn’t be the 1st time the Beavers showed the rest of the conference how to shut down the Cal offense, I’m going to believe that this is the least likely of the group to bite the Bears.
- Cal manages to corral the Oregon rushing attack: So who are the real Bears… the Bears that kept Utah in check or the ones that looked like a high school team against Oregon State? Beyond that, how will the Bears do against their first real read-option team of the season? The likely answers to both questions are concerning. This is the one that is most likely to hurt the Bears.
- Oregon’s freshman QB finds his rhythm: Don’t under estimate this one. The mid-season bye tends to be one of those moments that a freshman QB starts putting things together and the game starts “slowing down” for him. There are two techniques that tend to prevent young QBs from improving: Get lots of pressure on them or throw lots of confusing pass protection schemes at them. I haven’t seen much from the Bears this season that would suggest they could accomplish either method. The counter to this is that this QB hasn’t exactly shown a lot of promise, so perhaps it doesn’t bite the Bears. But don’t be shocked if it does.
If there is good news, this shouldn’t be a keep-away game for the Bears like the Utah game. The Bears should have a fair number of chances to get the offense working. But the risk is that it is a shootout and Cal just can’t keep pace.
And that’s what I’ve got to predict: Cal 38, Oregon 51