After falling to top-25 ranked Ohio State and USC on the road, Cal returned home looking for a more favorable match up against Arizona State, which hadn't won in Berkeley since 1997. The Sun Devils had other plans, putting together a 27-17 win to spoil the Bears' homecoming.
The Bears had to start from behind for the fifth straight time this season, as ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly found tight end Darwin Rogers for a one-yard touchdown strike on the Devils' second possession.
Isi Sofele reeled off a 24-yard score in the second quarter to pull the Bears back even, part of his 15-carry 105-yard performance. Sofele got a bigger share of the team's carries this week after the run game disappeared last week against the Trojans. C.J. Anderson also had a more successful day, running for some big gains on the way to a total of 78 yards.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Kelly's efficiency was too much to overcome. A field goal and a nine-yard touchdown to Kevin Ozier gave the Devils a 17-7 lead at the half. Kelly would finish the day 26 for 45 with 292 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bears' offense struggled to get going all day, punting five times in the first half, and three times to start the third quarter. Zach Maynard took six sacks and looked to be in pain by the end of the game. After today's game, the offensive line for the Bears has allowed a total of 24 sackson the year.
Maynard also had trouble finding his targets, completing just nine of his 28 attempts for 126 yards. Maynard missed on a few deep targets, but a number of drops and miscommunications didn't aid his performance.
Keenan Allen had four catches for 79 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown despite reportedly being sick for most of the day. Tight end Richard Rodgers, returning from injury, also caught two passes.
The teams traded field goals in the third quarter, and entered the fourth with ASU up 20-10. The Bears seemed to find their momentum after a blocked field goal by Robert Mullins, one of the Sun Devils' three missed field goals in the game.
The Bears responded with quick and impressive scoring drive that included a 44-yard scamper by C.J. Anderson and was capped off with Allen's touchdown.
Just as they seemed to have a chance to get back in the game, the Bears' penalty bug struck again and ASU took advantage of the opportunity. Cal was flagged 12 times for 119 yards, compared with just two penalties for 10 yards for the Sun Devils. Kelly found Ozier for a second score, giving the Devils a 27-17 lead they would not relinquish.
Any hopes of a comeback were lost when Allen and freshman Bryce Harper dropped two consecutive passes on the Bears ensuing possession. Subsequent facemask and roughing the passer penalties on Cal's defense shut the door for good.
With that, the Bears dropped to 1-4 (0-2 in conference play) in a game many said Jeff Tedford - and the team - badly needed to win. An efficient ASU offense had no problem putting away a Golden Bear team that struggled with penalties and sacks allowed.
The Bears have one more shot at home against UCLA before they go on the road again to face Washington State. Next week's game will be the Bears' first night game of the season, kicking off at 7 p.m. PDT on the Pac-12 Network.