Over and above the specific breakdowns of the loss to Washington, I keep coming back to this thought:
The Bears had plenty of chances to win the game, and they couldn't.
At home ... against an opponent that hadn't won on the road in 13 months, that committed 12 penalties and had four turnovers ... the Bears couldn't get it done.
They weren't good enough to beat a sloppy, mediocre opponent at home in a desperation game.
That speaks volumes about the state of things in Berkeley -- about just how far the Bears have fallen in the past few years.
Yes, they have suffered a bevy of injuries. But that's not the reason Cal will be home for the holidays (and Jeff Tedford could be out of work).
The Bears were reasonably healthy everywhere but the offensive line back when they lost to Nevada and struggled for three quarters against Southern Utah and got pounded by USC and overwhelmed by Arizona State.
The problems are much, much bigger than the list of walking wounded.
To yield just 21 points, despite all the miscues by the offense -- UW started six possessions at its 35 yard line or better -- is a respectable showing.
UW tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is an immensely talented player, even on a bum ankle. Yes, Cal
The Bears scored touchdowns on 1 of 4 RZ opportunities. Include a drive that stalled at UW's 24, and the tally is 1 of 5.
Everything about the red zone offense is poor, from the play-calling to the execution.
(For the season, Cal has converted just 42 percent of its RZ chances into touchdowns. Even Washington State's percentage is higher.)
Keenan Allen and Zach Maynard: Brothers, teammates and, for the moment, together on the injured list.
Maynard was Maynard on Friday: Some nice plays mixed with errant passes and a big mistake. The INT in the fourth quarter was a terrible pass.
I have thought all along that his Week One suspension for missing a tutoring session was an indication of trouble to come -- that it would undermine his confidence, his ability to lead, his ability to hold others accountable.
When your QB is saddled with those issues, it's difficult for any team to reach its potential.
Marcus Arroyo, who serves as quarterbacks coach and playcaller, did a marvelous job at San Jose State a few years ago in turning Adam Tafralis into an effective quarterback.
It's hard to believe Arroyo has forgotten how to teach the fundamentals of the position. Maynard is what he is: a mediocre QB who was under constant pressure -- a terrible combination.
That said, it's beyond obvious that Cal has not recruited well on the OL.
You'd think Cal would have an advantage with the timing -- it could be viewed as a trap game for the Ducks, between USC and Stanford.
But I'm not sure Oregon is susceptible to trap games due to its style of warp-speed play.
And even if the Ducks play like it's a trap game, does it matter? How will Cal stop them? How will Cal score?
This is not like 2010, when the Bears held Oregon in check and nearly pulled off a major upset: Cal isn't as good as it was then (and it wasn't very good), and Oregon's defense is much better than it was.
Best I can tell, they have not been underdogs of this magnitude since the '03 opener against Kansas State on a neutral field.
As a home underdog of 27+, you'd have to go back to the Holmoe era, I'd imagine.
I'm not sure that will be the case Saturday.