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Saturday, September 26, 2009
Cal needs to shake off Oregon loss quickly

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Standout running back Jahvid Best managed just 55 rushing yards against Oregon's defense.

EUGENE, Ore. -- California needed only to look across the field at a euphoric Oregon squad celebrating inside Autzen Stadium on Saturday to see that a team can overcome a dreadful defeat.

Four weeks ago, the Ducks were ridiculed nationally for their performance at Boise State. But after handing the sixth-ranked Bears a 42-3 whipping, they have reestablished their presence in the Pac-10 race and will surely return to the national rankings on Sunday.

Now Cal needs to prepare to be a punchline. They started the day as the Pac-10 front-runner. They finished it as road kill.

Said offensive tackle Mike Tepper, "This team [Cal] is good, we just got beat. We got beat bad.”

Yep. In every way.

Oregon outgained Cal 524 yards to 207 -- and 50 of those yards came on one play. Cal had been giving up only 273 yards per game while gaining 489 yards.

Quarterback Kevin Riley was Pac-10's No. 1 rated passer this week, but he only completed 12 of 31 for 123 yards.

Running back Jahvid Best entered the game as a Heisman Trophy frontrunner but he only rushed for 55 yards on 16 carries.

“The game wasn’t what I expected at all," Riley said. "I expected to pick up 40 points. We didn’t."

Oregon dominated both lines of scrimmage. The Ducks had five sacks. Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli wasn't sacked and was rarely pressured.

Even Cal's outstanding punter Bryan Anger had a bad day, including a 5-yard punt.

Oregon's defensive players said they knew what Cal was going to do before they did it. Linebacker Spencer Paysinger called the Bears offense "predictable."

And linebacker Casey Matthews said he and his teammates sensed blood in the water early.

"After we scored our second touchdown, it seemed like they quit," Matthews said. "I was looking at [Paysinger] right before a play and I said, 'They're done.' It seemed like that even in the second half. They went for it on fourth down and we stopped them. We just knew everything was going from them."

Such a dispiriting defeat likely will remind Bears fans of 2007, when Cal, unbeaten and ranked No. 2, was stunned by Oregon State and then collapsed, losing six of their final seven regular-season games.

Ergo the overriding post-game message from the Bears: This game doesn't have to ruin the season.

“It’s one loss, but we don’t want it to be a downward spiral," Riley said.

Cal needs to get off the canvas quickly. USC visits on Saturday.

That game presents the same sort of opportunity for a rebound that Oregon just took advantage of. That's why coach Jeff Tedford didn't feel a need to go all fire-and-brimstone after the game.

"I still have confidence in our guys," he said. "We’ll go back to work this week with a good attitude and a lot of focus. I love this team, and I love our kids. It’s one loss. It’s a tough loss so we’ll make sure we work extremely hard next week.”