Week Three is gone and the Cal Bears lost their second game against the best of the Big Ten, Ohio State, 52-34. Here are my final reactions to last night’s loss.
The Good: The talent on Cal’s roster is obvious. It wasn’t before, during that horrific game against Portland State, but it was last night against a very talented Ohio State team. A few weeks ago, I spoke with Central Florida football beat writer Patrick Zier, and he was telling me that he felt that the Big Ten was going to have a hard time going forward, as they would be the conference without a large football state within its geographical footprint that could provide the depth of talent and speedy athletes that conferences like the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 have. I didn’t really believe it, but today, Cal (along with the Pac-12 teams who outmatched Big Ten schools this weekend) showed me that it may be true. Cal looked faster, crisper and harder to catch than Ohio State did. Because of a few key turnovers and stalled drives, the final score looked more lopsided than the game actually was. The game itself, however, was very close for a good, long while. The fact that a low-end team in the Pac-12 made a game out of a matchup against the best team in the Big Ten is crazy. But it also shows that the rebuilding effort is something that could lead to big dividends soon.
The Bad: The defense had a terrible evening. Even in those stretches of time where Cal was able to keep Ohio State from scoring, they gave up big plays. The worst part of the evening came during the opening quarter and the third quarter, where Ohio State was able to run through the Cal defense with plays of 90, 47, 33, and 24 yards. The drives would devour little time, but would last for five or more plays nearly every time. This would tire out Cal. I know they were without half of their starters, and their team depth was depleted, but the game could have been better with a better outing. Also, they didn’t get the best output from the offense every time. The most frustrating part of the night was when Cal forced a fumble, only to intercept it a play or two later and have Ohio State keep possession before Cal’s defense had a chance to get a rest.
The Ugly: I think the first quarter was ugly. Both teams played shabby defense, both teams underachieved. Between Cal’s 21-point deficit in the first six minutes of play or Ohio State looking slow against Jared Goff and the receiving corps, both teams looked bad. This game should have been sharply played, instead it was like a drunken encounter with a girl you meet in the club bathroom… sloppy and nasty and it leaves you feeling dirty. I felt dirty at times watching these two defenses play. It was ugly.