Details below, but a general thought first:

The Bears seemed lifeless, as did the crowd, for most of the game -- not much in the way of passion, not much in the way of physicality, not much in the way of anything.

In his postgame news conference, Jeff Tedford appeared frustrated and beleaguered.

No doubt, he understands the task at hand. Before kickoff, I laid out what was at stake, but let's recap in the wake of the all-systems failure against Arizona State:

At 1-4 -- the worst start of the Tedford era -- the Bears must win five of their last seven to qualify for the postseason.

The team I saw Saturday won't win five games, total. And I can't help but wonder if that thought has crossed Tedford's mind, as well.

The injury-depleted offensive line is a turnstile, the quarterback is frustrated, the defensive line is banged up and soft, and the back seven is hardly good enough to make up for all the other shortcomings.

Result: Lost to Arizona State 27-17.

Grade: F.

Comment: A crucial game, at home, against an unranked opponent . . . and the Bears lose by 10? I considered giving them a G, for god-awful.

Even worse, and as Tedford noted in his postgame news conference, Cal was physically whipped at the line of scrimmage.

Arizona State is not a bad team and was by far the better of the two Saturday, but we're not talking about Cal getting overrun by a top-10 opponent.

The matchup should not have been so lopsided.

  • To repeat a point I made in Weeks 1 and 2: When your senior quarterback gets suspended for part of the season opener, problems are sure to follow.

    How can Zach Maynard lead, how can he hold others accountable, how can he have the confidence that his teammates believe in him?

    And when things go sideways on the field and your senior quarterback isn't quite right mentally, it's mighty tough to get back on track.

    Cal's 1-4 isn't all on Maynard, not by any stretch. He's under constant duress and deserves credit for playing through the pounding, for getting back up time after time after time.

    But if things had gone smoothly off the field during the spring and summer, he'd have a better emotional foundation (confidence, accountability, etc.) from which to handle the situation.

  • Brendan Bigelow on Saturday: No touches.

    "If there's not things we feel he's suited for and other guys are better suited for them, they'll be in the game," said Tedford, who added that: "It's up to what we feel like he can do. The running backs coach dictates that."

    Paging Ron Gould.

    My question: How can it get any worse?

    The Bears did not score a touchdown against USC and managed only two Saturday (along with a whopping 285 yards of total offense).

    Is Bigelow, who averages 20 yards per touch, really going to reduce their chances of finding the end zone?

    Even if he's not as familiar with the playbook as he should be, the coaches need to find ways to use him.

  • Ugly stat I: 12 penalties for 119 yards.

  • Ugly stat II: 4 of 15 on third down

  • Back to the problems up front: Matt Summers-Gavin played but was not close to top form and the line got shredded once again: The seven sacks allowed Saturday brings Cal's three-game total (Ohio State, USC and ASU) to an astounding 22.

    The Bears are last in the Pac-12 in sacks allowed, even worse than Colorado.

    Should two injuries (Summers-Gavin and Dominic Galas) cause such a colossal mess?

    Next up: vs. UCLA.

    The matchup: Make no mistake: The Bruins are better than Arizona State.

    That doesn't mean Cal will lose by more than 10, or lose at all. But the Bears must play significantly better than they did Saturday just to have a chance.

    If the defensive line isn't more physical by an order of magnitude . . . if the linebackers aren't more disciplined . . . then tailback Johnathan Franklin and quarterback Brett Hundley will carve them up.

  • The Bears, who are two-point underdogs, have time to save their season, but it's growing short.

    With each loss, the pressure mounts and it gets exponentially more difficult to climb out of this funk.

    They need a game-changer. They need a season-changer.

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.