First off, what a hell of a game. In the end, we made a few mistakes and Cal didn't. You just have to tip your cap and move on.
Four turnovers in the fourth quarter. Ugh. Now, two of them were really fluky. Tipped interceptions are rarely the QBs fault, and you just credit the Cal lineman for catching it. As for the last play of the game. Well, if that doesn't happen, we might still be playing. That the ball went through the end zone isn't really Oregon's fault, but the bottom line is that the game never should have gotten to that situation.
The other two turnovers were inexcusable. The fumbled kickoff return was awful (both guys trying to catch the ball, WTF?), and Dixon made a really bad read on the first pick. Its not like Cal made great plays to get any of these turnovers. Two just happened, and two were boneheaded mistakes.
I was shocked when I saw the stats. Oregon gained 100 more yards. Dixon threw for 306, and Oregon ran for 191. Forsett only had 101 yards on the ground, and Hawkins had only two catches. You read me those stats before the game, and I'm thinking blowout city. Obviously, not the case.
In the first half, both defenses played surprisingly well. 10-3 at halftime, and it would have been 3-3 if not for a stupid late hit by Cal. The defenses played great, the offenses, not so much.
In the second half, Cal's offense woke up. Aliotti stacked the box and forced Longshore to beat us. And, to my shock and horror, he did. Longshore didn't really make plays, as much as he took what the defense gave him and didn't make mistakes. Last year, he melts down in this game. Obviously, he's learned from that. And our secondary, which had been great all year, just couldn't cover DeSean Jackson, who was wide open at will. Our young secondary will be great, but I was mistaken a bit. They are not quite there yet.
Our special teams were a mixed bag. We did a great job not allowing Cal any opportunities for big plays, but we didn't get great returns ourselves. And that KO return was inexcusable.
I want to caution against two things. Controversy starters like Canzano and talk radio will try to say that Dixon melted down or Bellotti is no longer a good coach. Don't buy into it. It wasn't Dixon's greatest game, and he did miss some open receivers, but only one of the four TOs was his fault. He had a couple of recievers open for touchdowns in the first half that he missed, and that might have changed the game had they worked. But not having your best stuff is hardly a meltdown. As for Bellotti, its not like Tedford did something genius and outfoxed Bellotti. His team just didn't make mistakes.
It sucks because it shouldn't have happened, but its hardly a debilitating loss. Look at all the teams that fell--Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, etc. Oregon is still very good and will still have a good year. Its just that the national championship hopes, which were unrealistic anyway, are now dashed.
I'll have some better analysis up tomorrow, I just wanted to express a few thoughts. Autzen was rockin', and GameDay was great. It was a good time except for the outcome. Its a shame that we have to wait to weeks to get a better taste in our mouths.