BERKELEY -- Their bowl game chances are gone and their coach's future is in doubt. Their best player is done for the season, and possibly their starting quarterback, too.
Against that grim backdrop, the Cal Bears will close their home schedule Saturday night as 28-point underdogs to No. 2 Oregon, the nation's most electrifying team. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
"The game is not won on paper," said senior running back C.J. Anderson. "We're thinking about ending somebody else's national championship run."
"If we can beat them, this is like our championship game -- take somebody down with us," senior safety Josh Hill said.
While the Ducks (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) have designs on playing in the BCS national championship game, Cal (3-7, 2-5) had its postseason hopes officially ended with a 21-13 loss to Washington last Friday.
Star wideout Keenan Allen sat out the Washington game with a knee injury that probably ended his Cal career. Allen's half-brother, hot-and-cold quarterback Zach Maynard, sprained his knee against the Huskies and won't be among 19 seniors playing their final home game.
There are legitimate questions also about whether coach Jeff Tedford may be on the sidelines in Berkeley for the last time. The winningest coach in school history, Tedford revitalized Cal football and created momentum for the privately funded, $321 million renovation of Memorial Stadium.
But after winning 67 of his first 100
Now Tedford's squad will take on the fast-strike Ducks with seldom-used junior Allan Bridgford at quarterback for the Bears. Consider the daunting assignment he faces:
USC's Matt Barkley, perhaps the top NFL quarterback prospect in the country, passed for 484 yards and four touchdowns last week, and still the Trojans lost 62-51 to Oregon.
Bridgford, by comparison, has passed for 218 yards in his career.
"We're going to ask Bridgford to play within himself. It's not just him out there," Tedford said. "There's enough anxiety for somebody to go in and play the No. 2 team in the nation without putting any more undue anxiety on him."
After practice Wednesday, Bridgford said he felt prepared and calm about the assignment.
"There's no reason to get amped about it now," he said. "You're going to be amped enough ... trying to fall asleep the night before."
Bridgford's Friday night dreams for a successful game likely involved the Bears provoking a few turnovers from an Oregon offense averaging 54.3 points, then leading a Cal attack with a robust, time-consuming ground game.
"Being able to stay on the field and move the chains -- we've got to be able to mix it up," Tedford said. "The run game obviously is a big part of it."
Offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik said it will be important for the Bears not to give up on the run should the Ducks begin to extend a lead. "You can't panic," he said, "because you can make yourself one-dimensional, and that's the worst thing you can do."
Cal actually led 15-14 at halftime a year ago in Eugene before losing 43-15. In 2010, the Ducks managed just one offensive touchdown in a 15-13 win at Berkeley.
The Bears have compiled little evidence this season they can re-create those scenarios. Even so, they embrace the moment.
"We'd be naive to not know who we're playing and the success that they've had," Tedford said. "To have the opportunity to play against a great team and compete, it's exciting for the team."