With a decimated lineup missing quarterback Zach Maynard and wideout Keenan Allen, the Bears looked like a long shot to stay competitive with Oregon and the top scoring offense in the country. A strong performance by Cal's trio of running backs and a stout rush defense kept the Bears within seven points into the third quarter, but then Marcus Mariota and the Ducks' found their rhythm and rolled to a 59-17 victory.
The rebuilt Bears' offense stumbled at first, allowing the Ducks to go ahead on Mariota's touchdown pass to tight end Colt Lyerla, the first of the duo's two scores. Backup quarterback Allan Bridgford responded, leading the Bears 71 yards for a score, aided by a pair of defensive penalties. Bridgford found Darius Powe through broken coverage for each player's first college touchdown.
That would be Bridgford's only score as he struggled with a 9-21 performance, throwing for 113 yards and two picks.
The teams traded punts before Oregon was able to string together a four-minute scoring drive - long by their standards - moving back into a lead on a short TD run by freshman Byron Marshall.
Star running back Kenjon Barner never saw the end zone after scoring five times last week against USC. Cal's defense was determined not to get burned by the speedy back, and held him to just 65 yards on the ground and 35 more through the air.
The Bears' ground game had more success, marching down the field on the following drive to set up a 27-yard field goal. Oregon responded with a field goal of its own, and Mariota tacked on a quick touchdown to Josh Huff to enter halftime ahead 24-10.
Just when it looked like the Ducks were going to take control of the game, the Bears held strong on a third quarter fourth down and responded with a 74-yard touchdown drive. Tailback Isi Sofele ran for the last 45 of those yards on three touches, culminated by a four-yard score. Sofele finished with a season-high 134 yards, including runs of 31 and 35. C.J. Anderson added 56, while Brendan Bigelow contributed 20.
Sofele's score was the last thing to go right for the Bears. Bridgford forced a pass under pressure on the next drive that found its way into the hands of defensive back Boseko Lokombo; Mariota capitalized one play later with a 35-yard strike to Josh Huff.
After that, the Ducks could do no wrong, racking up 35 unanswered points on consecutive drives, scoring at every opportunity until they could mercifully run out the clock to end the game. Mariota found Huff for three scores, Cold Lyerla for two, and B.J. Kelly for one, before yielding to backup quarterback Brian Bennett who hit B.J. Kelley for one more. Mariota's final line was 27-34 for 377 yards and a school-record-tying six scores, while Bennett's TD was his only completion in three attempts.
Although the Ducks struggled with penalties, committing 11 for 105 yards (Cal had seven for 89), they had no trouble wearing down Cal's defense. Oregon's 575 yards exceeded Cal's output by over 200, and sent them home with a perfect 10-0 record intact. The Ducks will face Stanford and Oregon State over the final two weeks of the season, and likely control their own path to the BCS national championship game. The Bears drop to 3-8.
The Bears have just one game left, next Saturday's matchup against the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers, who lost to Stanford 27-23 this weekend, will host the Bears in Corvallis, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time on the Pac-12 Network.