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Cal defeats Oregon, 31-24

Posted by Steve | September 30, 2007 at 12:03 am | In Games |

Goal-line fumble

In a tough, well-fought battle, the #6 Bears survived a relatively low-scoring showdown in Eugene, Oregon. With both teams coming in averaging well over 40 points per game and questionable defenses, it was expected to be an offensive showcase. During the first half, however, both defenses stepped up, and neither offense was able to find their rhythm. It wasn’t until the final minutes of the second quarter that Oregon was able to find the end zone for the first touchdown of the game.

The second half, however, was more of the shootout that everybody expected. DeSean Jackson had a breakout performance, catching 11 passes for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. Once again, DeSean managed to fake out the Oregon secondary. On his first touchdown, he faked an inside route, then cut outside for a wide open 25-yard strike. On his second, he caught a short pass, stutter stepped, then exploded down the sideline past the defender. It was great to see DeSean come out and play like a true Heisman candidate. Equally important was Justin Forsett. Despite a slow first half, he managed 101 yards on 25 carries, including 2 touchdowns.

The biggest question most people in the country had about Cal so far this season was whether the defense could hold up against a top-ranked team. This game should go a long way towards silencing that crowd, as Oregon came in ranked 6th in the nation for total yards, 4th for rushing yards, and 7th for points scored. The Bears held them to only 24 points, half of their average 48.5. During the first half, and especially during the fourth quarter, the defense came up huge, coming up with the first two interceptions against Dennis Dixon this year, the first of which set up the go-ahead touchdown. Then came the biggest play of the game, the goal-line forced fumble with only 22 seconds to play.

On the offensive side of the ball, Cal struggled to find their rhythm during the first half, managing to score only 3 points. The O-line seemed to have a little difficulty controlling the line, as nearly each of Forsett’s touches had first contact behind the line of scrimmage. They looked much improved in the second half, as initial successes in both running and passing the ball forced Oregon’s defense to honor and protect against both aspects of the offense.

The scariest point in the game came with only about six and a half minutes to play in the game. With the score tied at 24, Nate Longshore was drilled from the side, his legs buckling sideways underneath him. It brought back flashbacks of two years ago to when a similar tackle took Longshore out for the season. He came out of the game for the rest of the drive, had his ankle taped up, then came back on the next possession. Despite being in the game, his ankle was still clearly bothering him, as he even had trouble with the kneel-down on the very last possession. Both Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Peele were also banged up during the game. Next week’s bye couldn’t come at a better time, as hopefully the extra week of rest will allow all the players to recover from injuries.

With so many upsets this weekend, and the win coming on ABC with the ESPN College GameDay crew in tow, Cal should be moving up in the polls. Oregon may also not move down very far. Here’s what happened in the top 10 this weekend:

  • #1 USC squeaked out a 27-24 win over unranked Washington
  • #3 Oklahoma lost 24-27 to unranked Colorado
  • #4 Florida lost 20-17 to unranked Auburn
  • #5 West Virginia lost 13-21 to #18 South Florida
  • #7 Texas was routed 41-21 by unranked Kansas State
  • #10 Rutgers lost 34-24 to unranked Maryland

The last time that 5 of the top 10 teams lost occurred back in 2003. Look for Cal to be moving up to #3 in the polls this week, and for LSU to gain ground on USC after their shaky victory. Also look for DeSean to move back up in the Heisman watch after his stellar performance, perhaps even as far as #3 behind Darren McFadden and Andre Woodson.

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11 Comments »

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  1. Nice re-cap.

    That was one of the most exciting 2nd halves I’ve ever witnessed, Cal bias aside. We made good halftime adjustments and pulled off a close win in a hostile environment and that’s what elite teams do.

    While I’m excited as hell, I think we need to improve on a few things if we want to get to the SC game undefeated:

    1. Pass Rush - We had 0 sacks against Oregon and put little pressure on Dixon, which in turn put the pressure on our secondary (it was a similar story against Arizona).

    2. Exterior Rush Defense - We’re great at clogging the middle, but we’re pretty sorry outside. A lot of this simply has to do with tackling, and finishing the job when we get our hands on opposing RBs (granted we faced some very strong, athletic RBs in Tennessee and Oregon). We get off of blocks well but need to close the deal more often.

    3. Limit the dumb penalties, for God’s sake! This has been our biggest out-of-character flaw this year. It’s not the M.O. of a Tedford squad.

    4. Longshore’s touch. He’s got it, as we saw last year, but there have been several occasions this year when he’s been off the mark when we could have delivered a knockout blow. The overthrow of Desean in the end zone after the special teams take away in the 4th quarter yesterday was big.

    In essence, grades for the passing game this year:
    Offensive Line = A
    Receivers = A
    Quarterback = B

    Nate has the tools to step it up and I hope he does. He wont have as much time in the pocket against USC and UCLA and will need a quicker release.

    2 insane validations from Week 5:
    1. WE ARE A LEGITIMATE NATIONAL TITLE CONTENDER
    2. DESEAN IS A LEGITIMATE HEISMAN CONTENDER

    GO AP/USA TODAY #3 BEARS!!!!!!!

    1. Comment by Ryan L — September 30, 2007 @ 9:18 am #

  2. two words: Go Bears!

    2. Comment by jontsai — September 30, 2007 @ 9:25 am #

  3. GO BEARS! :D

    3. Comment by vicky — September 30, 2007 @ 9:46 am #

  4. Since i don’t have a blog with nearly any traffic…i thought that i would relay this and hope it find some equally disgruntled Cal Fans:

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/files/specials/collegefootball_front/votes/BLOOMQUIST.html?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME

    This is the link to the AP poll entry by Bret Bloomquist of the El Paso (TX) Times. It has Cal at a ridiculous #13 for week #6.

    4. Comment by Tim — September 30, 2007 @ 6:53 pm #

  5. well, normally I could respect his opinion at putting Cal down in his rankings. However, how can he put Oregon down at #5? I personally think this is just an error (whether on his part or on the APs/website’s) and that he got the two schools switched. Whatever the case, I hope he either corrects it or explains it. Although I guess it doesn’t matter that much if he doesn’t correct it, since the AP poll is no longer counted in the BCS.

    5. Comment by Steve — September 30, 2007 @ 8:30 pm #

  6. Anyone who cares to ask him about his vote: bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com

    6. Comment by Dan — October 1, 2007 @ 11:40 am #

  7. Ryan:

    1) I thought they were holding back to avoid letting Dixon get by them on a scramble. The way he moves, I doubt they could safely get him down without risking a big screen pass or something over the pursuers.

    2) Maybe it was just Follett being out? It seems like every time there was a sweep, Follett would be at the LOS to stop it for no gain. Hope he heals up this week.

    3) From what I saw, that “late hit” was total crap. I didn’t have any sound (in a loud bar), but unless there was a whistle several seconds before the hit, there’s no way that was Ezeff’s fault.

    Problem is, against teams like Oregon and Cal, guys are told to swarm to the ball and gang tackle aggressively. If they don’t, the ball carrier has a good chance of twisting/shedding/juking 1-2 tacklers and taking it to the house.

    How many times have we seen THA1, or Forsett, or Lynch on a play like that? A tackler looks like they have them down, the play seems like its over, then bam!, they’re loose and 20 yards downfield.

    7. Comment by Dave — October 1, 2007 @ 12:52 pm #

  8. [...] Cal Football Fan has his recap. [...]

    8. Pingback by The Bears Are Roaring (Blog Reactions to Oregon) at Bears’ Necessity — October 1, 2007 @ 4:12 pm #

  9. I really enjoyed that game. One of the most interesting game that I have watched on television. Go Bears!.
    =============================================
    Victor Smith
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    9. Comment by Victor Smith — November 15, 2008 @ 5:26 am #

  10. Fantastic game. Go BEARS!
    ============================
    Michael
    oregon drug rehab

    10. Comment by Bryan Adams — November 15, 2008 @ 5:30 am #

  11. That was one of the most exciting game I have ever seen.
    ——-

    Adam

    colorado drug rehab

    11. Comment by Adamgilly — December 18, 2008 @ 7:54 pm #

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