The news wasn't all good for USC on Thursday night after it whipped listless California 30-9. Nor is it all bad for the Bears.
For USC, injuries were an issue.
Cornerback Anthony Brown broke his ankle and is likely done for the season. Running back Marc Tyler dislocated his left shoulder and he could be out two to three weeks. Receiver Marqise Lee sprained his shoulder but he may be able to play at Notre Dame next Saturday.
As for Cal, how could a sixth consecutive conference loss and an 0-3 start in the Pac-12 -- coach Jeff Tedford's worst start to conference play in 10 seasons -- have any upside?
Thanks for asking. Jon Wilner, not always known as Mr. Positive, points out that the early conference schedule has been tough for the Bears -- at Washington, at Oregon, USC -- but things are far more manageable ahead: Utah, at UCLA, Washington State and Oregon State. Writes Wilner:
And if the Bears take three of four, they’d be 6-4 – assured of a bowl bid before they step foot in Stanford Stadium and head down to Tempe for the finale.
So here’s my advice to angry, frustrated, anxious Cal fans: The season isn’t lost. It will get better.
Wilner the Reassuring! Cal fans probably don't know what to make of that.
By the way, Cal fans have a right to expect six wins this year. A second-consecutive bowl-less season would put Tedford decidedly on the hot seat, most likely making 2012 one of those "win or else" seasons. And if things crash and burn this fall, well, we know things can go south quickly for coaches in this business -- just glance south down at Tucson.
Cal's defense is playing fairly well. The problem, again, is the Bears' offense, Tedford's bailiwick. The Bears trailed 20-0 at halftime and never really made a run as they lost their eighth in a row in the series.
Quarterback Zach Maynard committed four of Cal's five turnovers -- three interceptions -- turning in a second-consecutive subpar game after an encouraging start. He didn't get much help. Cal rushed for just 35 yards.
Wilner has an idea that he feels pretty strongly about.
ZACH MAYNARD IS NOT A POCKET PASSER! WHY DOES HE SPEND SO MUCH TIME IN THE POCKET?!?
Why not let him throw on the run, especially moving to his left? That’s when he’s most comfortable, when he seems to find his rhythm.
Why not let him make plays with his legs? Why not run more spread option?
The Bears slow start provides our factoid of the game, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: In the last four meetings between the teams since 2008, USC has owned Cal in the opening half, outscoring the Golden Bears 92-3.
That's not a good way to beat a rival.