The 2013 season figured to be a tough one for Sonny Dykes in his first season with the Cal Bears. He inherited one of the youngest rosters in college football that had to learn a completely new offense and defensive philosophy while navigating a brutal schedule. But few would have thought the Bears would have struggled as hard as they have this season as they come into their season finale against the rival Stanford Cardinal. At 1-10 on the year, the Big Game is likely to be just another brutal blowout for the Bears from Berkeley.
They won’t get the benefit of having a Stanford team overlooking them ahead of their game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Week 14. After losing to the USC Trojans last week and losing control of the Pac-12 North, the Cardinal will likely be out for blood to send a message and most of the blood is likely to be Cal’s. Stanford is also focused on staying on track just in case the Oregon Ducks slip up in their final two games and they can get back into the Pac-12 title game.
None of that spells opportunity for the Bears who are a more than 30-point underdog this Saturday. So far this season, Cal ranks dead last among Pac-12 teams in total defense, scoring defense, and scoring offense. Injuries have ripped through an already thin and inexperienced depth chart which has made it difficult to get the best team on the field for the Bears. That isn’t a good recipe for an upset against a focused Stanford team that has been as good as anyone in the country at times this season.
Stanford is big and physical and will look to physically man-handle the Bears early and often this Saturday. Does Cal have the personnel or the pride to stand up to them and fight back or is Cal simply doomed to finish 2013 winless in Pac-12 play?