There isn't much to say about the events that unfolded over 3.5 hours on Saturday. The Bears were mediocre on offense, putrid on defense and even worse on special teams.

In other words: Just another day at the office.

(OK, that's probably a bit unfair to the STs.)

So I'll mention a few factoids and then get to big-picture items about three of the four people most responsible for this mess (the fourth being Jeff Tedford).

Result: Lost to USC 62-28

Grade: F

Comment: At least the weather was nice.

  • The good: No turnovers.

  • The bad: USC averaged 9.8 yards per play.

  • The ugly: Cal allowed three special teams touchdowns: two on punt returns (75 and 93 yards) and one on a blocked punt.

    Said special teams coach Mark Tommerdahl: "This is my responsibility."

    No kidding.

  • The abominable: The Bears allowed more than 40 points for the seventh time this season ... and lost their 12th consecutive Pac-12 game ... and 14th in a row to FBS competition.

    As I have noted previously: It's tough to be this bad, folks.

    To be this bad, many things have to go wrong outside the coaching staff's control and the coaching staff has to do a less-than-stellar job of utilizing its talent. Because the Bears have better talent than 12 consecutive FBS losses.

    I'd also take a moment to note Northwestern's record: 0-5 in Big Ten play.

    Oh, and Washington State hasn't come close to winning a league game since it thumped Cal on Oct. 5.

    Now ...

  • Big-picture item No. 1:

    When attempting to reasonably and fairly assess Dykes' first season, I can't help but think back to the rookie years for Tedford (2002), Jim Harbaugh at Stanford (2007) and Mike MacIntyre at San Jose State (2010).

    All three took over programs that were in much worse shape than the 2013 Bears, and all three accomplished something positive on the field — something to provide momentum for the offseason, for recruiting, and for Year 2.

    Tedford won seven games and was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

    Harbaugh beat USC in the epic upset and Cal.

    MacIntyre made the Spartans competitive (despite years of scholarship limitations) with a series of close, encouraging losses down the stretch.

    With two games remaining in Dykes' rookie year, the Bears have nothing to build on.

    Sure, there are positive changes behind the scenes (i.e., academic accountability). But at some point, on some level, you have to show progress on Saturday.

    A five-point loss to Arizona does not qualify.

  • Big picture item No. 2:

    What will Dykes do about defensive coordinator Andy Buh?

    I don't think Buh's a bad coach, but there is nothing on his resume, which includes a failed stint at Stanford, to suggest he's an elite coordinator -- that he's as adept as the man he replaced, Clancy Pendergast (now at USC).

    It's hardly fair to heap all of Cal's defensive woes on Buh. The talent was mediocre to begin with, and the surreal series of injuries have compounded the problems.

    But Buh is in charge of one of the worst defenses in conference history, a unit that has repeatedly looked ill-prepared, that has under-performed its modest talent and that ranks 121st in the nation -- ahead of only Idaho and New Mexico.

    Dykes must peer through the murk of the injuries and the inexperience and ask himself if Buh is the man to lead Cal's defense next season ... if he has shown enough tactical expertise, motivational skills and grasp of personnel to lead the unit out of the gutter.

    Dykes must ask himself what message would it send -- to the team, the fans and prospective recruits -- if he dismissed or demoted Buh ... and what message it would send if he didn't.

    Can Cal thoroughly erase the stink of this season without a change in defensive leadership?

    Next up: at Colorado

    The matchup: Colorado is a 3-point favorite.

    Think about that for a minute: The Buffs, who have been double-digit underdogs in every Pac-12 game this season and haven't come close to winning one of them, are the betting favorite.

    That's how low the Bears have sunk.

    Which brings me to ...

  • Big-picture item No. 3:

    This is an important game for the Bears as they try to generate momentum for the offseason — and a critical game personally for athletic director Sandy Barbour (and, by extension, for Dykes).

    Barbour could have hired Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre last December following a breakthrough season at San Jose State.

    Instead she went with Dykes, who did a lesser job at Louisiana Tech than MacIntyre did at SJSU.

    The rebuilding task at LaTech wasn't nearly as difficult as the situation MacIntyre faced at SJSU. The Bulldogs, after all, won eight games just two years before Dykes arrived.

    Add to that dynamic the fact that MacIntyre beat Dykes head-to-head last year and ...

    Barbour has a pile of problems to deal with. The last thing she needs is her hand-picked football coach to lose to the man many (myself included) thought she should have hired in the first place.

    It's the last thing Dykes needs, too, as he tries to build confidence and limit potential recruiting damage inflicted by this wretched season.

    If the Bears don't win Saturday, they'll have to wait 'til September.