COLLEGE FOOTBALL GRADES
Result: Lost at Ohio State 35-28
Comment: Cal's performance against the Buckeyes was the antithesis of its showing in the Southern Utah game the previous week: a well-played, close road loss to a good team, as opposed to a poorly played, lopsided home win against a bad team ... Quarterback Zach Maynard rose to the occasion. He was 26 of 37 for 280 yards and was locked in throughout, all while dealing with low snaps from center ... Coach Jeff Tedford said attempting the 42-yard field goal on fourth-and-1 (tie score, 4:20 left) was an easy decision, despite Vincenzo D'Amato's previous misses from 40 and 42 yards. Hmmmm ... The offensive line allowed six sacks. Given the absence of projected starters Dominic Galas and Matt Summers-Gavin, the breakdowns aren't a huge surprise. But Cal's upside is limited unless it gets the problems corrected.
Next up: at USC
The matchup: The Bears haven't beaten USC since 2003, and many of the eight consecutive losses have been blowouts. ... USC's weaknesses -- in particular, its lack of experience and depth on the defensive line -- were exposed by Stanford. But it doesn't appear that Cal has the personnel to take full advantage.
San Jose State
Result: Beat Colorado State 40-20
Comment: Along with their victory over
Next up: at San Diego State
The matchup: The teams haven't met since 2008, when the Spartans dominated 35-10. It won't be that easy this time ... San Diego State has a talented quarterback in Ryan Katz, an Oregon State transfer, and usually plays sound defense. This isn't a game SJSU should win, but it qualifies as a game SJSU can win if it plays well.
Result: Beat USC 21-14
Comment: Can't say enough about tailback Stepfan Taylor, who had 213 all-purpose yards, or defensive coordinator Derek Mason and his staff, who formulated a terrific game plan. Trojans receiver Robert Woods: four catches, 38 yards; USC on third down: 1 of 13; USC in the second half: 91 yards. ... Stanford's red-zone offense must improve. It failed to score on first-and-goal from the 2 and through three games is converting just 45 percent of its opportunities into touchdowns. ... Quarterback Josh Nunes was only mediocre until he made two big plays on what became the winning drive: the third-down scramble and the touchdown pass to Zach Ertz. And those are the two plays that will have the greatest impact on his confidence.
Next up: at Washington (Sept. 27)
The matchup: Good time for a bye? Bad time for a bye? It shouldn't matter for a team as experienced and steady as the Cardinal. And it isn't a true bye week, anyway. Because of the Thursday game in Seattle, everything is moved up two days: Stanford's game preparation, which usually starts on Monday, begins Saturday.