bad day in the desert

If Cal fans knew at the beginning of the season, that the Bears would play USC on Nov. 18 with the Rose Bowl on the line, do you think they would have taken it?

In a heartbeat.

And that’s what they’ve got, one game that will define their season. It’s either Pasadena and the end of years of frustration or the Holiday Bowl, the Pac-10’s booby prize.

Most worrisome for this team is the fact it really has a hard time getting the offense and the defense to show up on the same day. The wins over Oregon and Oregon State were complete, but there haven’t been too many other times when both units played up to their best.

The Bears had better trot out their best on Saturday.

USC is a very physical team which figured to beat up on Oregon, just as it did. Cal is a much better match for the Trojans.

Certainly, Nate Longshore will have to be at his best. Those double clutch throws that he has gotten away with at times won’t be any good against the Trojans. He’s got to make great decisions and he has got to be accurate.

It also was alarming on Saturday that Arizona controlled the Bears’ offensive line in terms of the running. If that was because the Wildcats overmatched them with bodies up front, then the Cal coaching staff should have gone elsewhere. If the Bears simply couldn’t match Arizona’s physical play, then they could be in trouble on Saturday.

The loss at Arizona was deflating for everyone, just when it appeared the Bears would be ranked fourth or fifth in the nation going into the game. But the stakes remain the same. A win on Saturday will send Cal alums into a wild dance never seen on Figuroa.