EUGENE, Ore. — As the capacity crowd at Autzen Stadium waited for the fourth quarter to start Saturday, it decided to pass the time by directing an "Overrated" chant at Cal.
It's hard to argue with them at this point.
The No. 6 Bears put together a woeful performance in their Pac-10 opener, getting dominated in every way imaginable during a 42-3 loss to Oregon in front of 58,975 fans, the 64th consecutive sellout at Autzen Stadium.
Oregon (3-1), which entered the day ranked 111th nationally in total offense (273.3 yards per game), piled up 524 yards. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who came into the game ranked last in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency (88.8), carved up Cal's defense to the tune of 21-for-25 passing for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Masoli had a 4-for-16 performance for 95 yards last week against Utah.
The Bears (3-1), meanwhile, did nothing in the passing game, allowing the Ducks to bottle up Heisman Trophy candidate Jahvid Best, who had just 55 yards on 16 carries.
Quarterback Kevin Riley, under intense pressure from Oregon's defensive front all afternoon, was 12-for-31 for 123 yards.
"We got beat today by a better team," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "Oregon did a nice job. Give them a lot of credit. We got outplayed. We got out-coached. We still have to believe in who we are. This is just one loss. All it means is we're not going to go undefeated."
It was the worst loss in Tedford's eight
Saturday's loss may leave some wondering just how good the Bears are. They won their first three games, but one victory came against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent (Eastern Washington) and another was over Maryland, which is 1-3, its only win in overtime against another FCS opponent (James Madison).
Cal made a solid statement with its road win over Minnesota last week, but the only statements about the Bears on Saturday were negative.
"We were prepared. I really just don't know what happened," said wide receiver Verran Tucker, who made one of Cal's few big plays on offense with a 50-yard catch on the first play of the second half. "I'm still kind of shocked by it. We understand that this is a tough loss, but we have to put it behind us and go to next week. We understand that we can still win the Pac-10."
They'll have to play much better than they did Saturday. Waiting for the Bears next week is a home date with USC, which will give them a chance to prove they are more like the team from the first three weeks than the one that took the field against the Ducks.
"This loss is going to sting for a little bit, but I'm confident," Best said. "It's SC week. People are going to forget about this real quick. It's a big game, so we don't have time to worry about this loss."
Things started out well enough for the Bears when D.J. Campbell recovered a fumble by Oregon's Walter Thurmond on the opening kickoff. But Cal lost 8 yards on three plays and settled for a 47-yard field goal by Vince D'Amato.
It didn't take long for the Ducks to demonstrate they would be able to move the ball easily on the Bears. Other than a lost fumble on a bad handoff exchange by Masoli, Oregon put together scoring drives on three of its next four possessions. Running back LaMichael James added a 4-yard run with just under a minute left in the first half to make it 25-3 at the intermission.
The Ducks drove 70 yards on 12 plays on their first possession of the third quarter, scoring on a 9-yard pass from Masoli to tight end Ed Dickson for a 32-3 advantage.
All three of Masoli's scoring passes went to Dickson, who caught 11 passes for 148 yards. Dickson had caught four passes for 58 yards during the first three games of the season.
"They really got the tight end into it, and we really had a hard time accounting for him," Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed said. "That got us in trouble."
Riley entered the game ranked sixth nationally in passing efficiency (170.6), but the offensive line struggled in pass protection. When Riley did have time, he either missed his target or his receivers struggled to get open.
The passing game is viewed by many as the key to Cal's success on offense. A productive aerial attack will make it harder for opponents to key on stopping Best.
"We were not able to do that today," Tucker said. "If we get manned up, we have to be able to beat it just to take the pressure off Jahvid. I have to do more to make plays down the field, to make the corners feel threatened by us."
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