Old Blues, Young Blues, not-yet-born Blues ... everyone knows the bowl math by now (win three of the last four) and everyone knows the stretch includes Oregon and Oregon State.

But let's talk Utah, just for a moment. The Utes are, after all, next on the schedule.

Heck, the finale at OSU might not matter a lick if the Bears don't get their act together in SLC and the following week against Washington.

As margin for error shrinks, pressure mounts. Big Game was a huge game for the Bears. Because they lost, Utah become the most important game of the season -- perhaps one of the most important of the Jeff Tedford era, if you believe his future is tied to a bowl bid.

I'm not convinced that's the case. It may very well be. But does anyone other than AD Sandy Barbour really know at this point? Until Saturday, the Bears had reason to be mildly optimistic. Beat Stanford and climb into the postseason after a 1-4 start -- that would have provided the administration with enough justification to bring him back, if it was so inclined.

I saw Cal in person Saturday and then watched the final three quarters of the Utah-Oregon State game.

The Bears are in trouble. Utah is strong (defensive line) where Cal is weak (offensive line), which we knew. But the Utes seem to be getting more comfortable with freshman QB Travis Wilson.

If not for a few mistakes, the Utes could have won that game ... would have won that game.

Utah is a two-point favorite over the Bears, which seems about right.

And if Cal loses in SLC, then it must beat Oregon and Oregon State for a bowl berth.

Result: Lost to Stanford 21-3

Grade: D-

Comment: Opted against failing the Bears because their defense wasn't awful. Hold a team to three touchdowns and, in theory, you should have a chance to win the game.

  • Understatement of season, courtesy of Tedford: "They won the line of scrimmage."

    Other options: They controlled the line of scrimmage ... They dominated the line of scrimmage ... They kicked our you-know-whats at the line of scrimmage ... We were pathetic at the line of scrimmage.

    The Cal team I saw Saturday looked a lot like the Cal team I saw lose to ASU: Soft.

    Soft, soft, soft.

    And sloppy (three turnovers).

    And don't forget about the first-and-goal from the 2, when the Bears went backward.

  • Third-down conversions: 1 of 14.

    But as my colleague Jeff Faraudo noted, first down was a huge problem, as well: Until their final drive of the day, the Bears totaled just 34 yards on 20 first-down snaps.

  • Tedford noted after the game that the Bears knew moving the ball would be tough -- that Stanford's front seven would make life difficult for the running game and pressure Zach Maynard.

    Then why didn't they do something about it?

    The game plan was so unimaginative ... so filled with standard fare ... it was like Cal didn't take into account that fact that it would most likely have huge trouble blocking the Cardinal.

    There were very few wrinkles when, in fact, there should have been wrinkles galore.

    And the fourth-and-one run by Sofele early in the fourth quarter, when Cal still had a glimmer of a prayer of a chance? Sooooooo predictable.

    Tedford said afterward that Sofele never had a chance because of a missed block.

    Again, shouldn't the off-the-charts chance of a missed block have been taken into account when you called the play in the first place? Why not call something new?

  • As for the limited use of Brendan Bigelow: Yes, he fumbled. But he also had a fabulous catch-and-run and the Bears, once again, should have used him more out wide, in the slot, in motion, anywhere and everywhere.

    Again: More Bigelow couldn't have made it any worse.

  • I'll make one brief mention of Keenan Allen because that's about all his performance was worth -- and not necessarily through any fault of his own (other than the fumble).

    Cal didn't/couldn't put him in position to make big plays.

  • Last point, on the big picture:

    Seems to me that this was the worst scenario for Tedford from the perspective of job security -- a triple-whammy, if you will.

    It wasn't just a decisive loss in a game he desperately needed to win. It was a 1) decisive loss 2) to Cal's rival 3) with an inept offense.

    If you're going to lose the Big Game, at least go down swinging, instead of getting steamrollered.

    45-27 is a lot better than 21-3.

    Fans want to be entertained. When they aren't entertained, they don't buy tickets.

    Or participate in ESPs.

    Next up: at Utah.

    The matchup: As noted at the top: This will be another stern test for Cal up front.

    The Utes have the most dominant defensive lineman in the conference (perhaps in the country) in Star Lotulelei. The Bears won't be able to block him one-on-one and might need to devote three players in certain situations.

  • Cal handled the Utes last year 34-10. But the game was in Berkeley -- oops! AT&T Park -- and not SLC, where it could be in the 40s at kickoff.

    The Utes were also using a QB with limited skills (Jon Hays). The current starter, Wilson, is inexperienced but far more capable of producing big plays.

  • It's probably overstating things a tad to frame this as Cal's last stand. But it's close -- close enough for the Bears to play like an angry, desperate team.

    Anything short of that would be telling.