As odd as it may seem to a casual college football observer, the Cal Bears (5-6, 3-6 Pac-12) still can go bowling by beating BYU (7-4) this Saturday in Berkeley (1:30pm PT, Pac-12 Network). The Bears are still bowl-hopeful only because they beat Oregon State in Corvallis in early October, a win that looked a lot more impressive the next weekend when OSU stunned then-No. 6 Arizona State.
But getting manhandled by Stanford last weekend in the Big Game makes the prospect of beating BYU for that sixth win a little more elusive. The Bears looked lost and out of sync against the Cardinal pretty much from the first snap. Allowing Remound Wright to tie a Big Game record with four rushing touchdowns didn’t make the Bears’ defense feel great either.
The BYU team that comes into Memorial Stadium is hard to figure out. Since leaving the Mountain West Conference to become an independent, the Cougars’ schedule has varied widely. This season alone the competition has varied from Texas to Savannah State last weekend, a game the Cougars won 64-0. BYU’s beaten just two teams with winning records but all four losses have been to teams over .500.
While that does make it seem like the Bears should come up victorious against the Cougars, the truth is that Cal’s season needs to be seen as a success no matter the result on Saturday. To be just one win away from a bowl berth on the final Saturday of the regular season after going 1-11 in 2013 is an improvement that very few people expected when the season began. A win and a bowl game, no matter if it’s in Albuquerque or Shreveport, ought to make the Bears very satisfied going into 2015.