In fact, the Golden Bears had the lead at halftime this time despite being heavy underdogs.
It all caved in on the Bears in the second half, as Cal's defense was sliced and diced in every way imaginable in a 43-15 loss to the Ducks in losing a second consecutive game.
The production of tailback Isi Sofele and wide receiver Keenan Allen that helped Cal gain 465 yards provided some optimism for the Cal offense, and the fact that four of Cal's next five games are at its 2011 home, AT&T Park, adds some hope.
The Bears have played much better at home, especially defensively, since the start of last season.
However, it didn't help that quarterback Zach Maynard struggled passing the ball and was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter when he took a heavy hit after releasing a pass.
Maynard will be ready for Cal's next game, another Thursday game on Oct. 13 against USC at AT&T Park, but he must be more accurate than he was against the Ducks.
He only complete 20-of-41 passes, and although he had a perfect pass to Michael Calvin dropped, a majority of the incomplete throws were the result of poorly thrown passes. Maynard never seemed comfortable in the pocket.
"I was off on my throws," Maynard said. "I just didn't set my feet right. My feet were moving too fast. My feet were moving faster than my arm."
The Cal defense has serious some serious issues, after being taken apart in the second half by the Ducks, who racked up 256 yards in the third quarter while slicing through the Cal defense like it wasn't there.
Now the Bears' defense must face another team with an explosive offense, USC, which is coming off a bye and will have had 12 days to prepare for the Bears.
The game was not a complete success for Oregon, as tailback LaMichael James, the national rushing champion last season and the country's top rusher this year, sustained what appeared to be a serious elbow injury in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
James had gained 239 yards rushing to that point, but the grotesque way in which his right elbow was twisted, he may be out for some time.
James' performance and injury took some of the attention away for Sofele, who had 119 yards on only 12 carries, and showed again that he is a capable Pac-12 tailback.
Allen, meanwhile, had eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown.
But the Bears could not score in the second half after taking a 15-14 lead, while the defense got overrun by Oregon.
Oregon makes a lot of defenses look bad, so yielding 29 points in the first 16 minutes of the second half might not indicate that Cal's defense is coming apart.
But, again, Cal's defense could not hold up on the road, a stark contrast to the Bears' outstanding defensive efforts at home since Clancy Pendergast became the Cal defensive coordinator last season.
Cal can be thankful that it has only one road game between now and its Nov. 19 game at Stanford.
--Last season, Cal limited Oregon to one offensive touchdown and held LaMichael James to 91 rushing yards in a 15-13 Oregon victory. This time James rushed for 239 yards despite missing most of the fourth quarter after being injured.
--Cal coaches said freshman CB Stefan McClure would get more playing time against Oregon, but he got even more than expected because starting CB Marc Anthony sustained a shoulder injury in the first half and did not return. It left McClure as the team's left cornerback the rest of the game. He was called for pass interference on one play, and the Ducks picked on him often in the second half.
--Since Clancy Pendergast has become Cal's defensive coordinator last season, the Golden Bears have yielded more than 17 points only once in their eight home games, but they have given up more than 30 points in six of their eight games on the road, including the 43 yielded to Oregon in Eugene, Ore., on Oct. 6. That kind of disparity is difficult to explain.
KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Ernest Owusu -- Owusu was as responsible as anyone for Cal having a 15-14 lead at halftime against Oregon. He had a career-high seven tackles, including two for losses, one of which was a sack of Oregon QB Darron Thomas, only the second sack the Ducks have yielded this season. Owusu also knocked down a fourth-down pass late in the first half when Oregon was threatening to take the lead. He forced a fumble, although it was recovered by Oregon. Owusu leads the team in with 2.5 sacks, and with 4.5 tackles for losses.
LOOKING GOOD: TB Isi Sofele has been more productive than expected, and he seems to be getting better each game. He had a career-high 119 yards against Oregon, and that was his third consecutive game in which he gained 98 rushing yards or more. He has 499 yards this season, which means Sofele is a good bet to become the ninth player in Jeff Tedford's 10 seasons at Cal to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. The only year Tedford did not have a 1,000-yard rusher was 2009, when starting tailback Jahvid Best missed the final four games because of a concussion and backup Shane Vereen finished with 952 rushing yards. Against Oregon, Sofele got his 119 yards on only 12 carries, an average of 9.9 yards per carry, showing the ability to break the long run.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Red zone offense. For the second consecutive game, the Golden Bears had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns when they got close. They had a first down at the Oregon 12-yard line and a first down at the Ducks' 16 on their first two possessions and settled for field goals both times. Cal scored only one touchdown on its four trips inside the Oregon 20, and came on an outstanding diving catch by Keenan Allen on a low pass by Zach Maynard. Cal had two other deep possessions that ended with no points after getting a first down at the Ducks' 24-yard line late in the first half and getting a first down at the Oregon 23 in the second half.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Once they get going like that, you have to respond, and we could not do that. When they get a lead on you, it really takes you out of your game plan." -- Cal coach Jeff Tedford, after Oregon outscored the Golden Bears, 29-0, in the first 16 minutes of the second half.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Keenan Allen had more than 100 yards receiving for the fourth time in five games this season against Oregon. His 170 yards against the Ducks on Oct. 6 give him 367 receiving yards in the last two games.
--TB Isi Sofele had a career-high 119 yards against Oregon, and he did it on only 12 carries. He had runs of 34, 25 and 16 yards, and he is averaging 99.8 yards rushing per game. Plus, he has not missed any time because of injury. Because of his size, 5-8 and 190, there was concern about his durability.
--QB Zach Maynard was 20-for-41 passing, the second time this season he completed fewer than half his passes. He had some good throws, but he had a lot that were well off target. Maynard is completing only 51.4 percent of his passes this season. Although he throws a lot of passes downfield, which typically hurts a quarterback's completion percentage, 51.4 is still far too low for a Pac-12 quarterback.
--K Giorgio Tavecchio made three of his four field goal attempts against Oregon, including a career-long 54-yarder, one yard short of the school record. His only miss was a 40-yarder that was partially blocked. That blocked kick was his first miss of the season, leaving him 8-for-9 on field goals.
--CB Marc Anthony injured his left shoulder in the first half. He returned to the game, but reinjured the shoulder in the second quarter and did not return after that. It's unclear whether he'll be ready for the Oct. 13 game against USC.
--QB Zach Maynard was knocked out of the game when he was sandwiched by Oregon defenders after releasing a pass. He will play in the Bears' game against USC.
--Freshman Brendan Bigelow played for the third straight week against Oregon, but for the second straight game he played only on kickoff returns. He made a mistake in the second half when he picked up a kickoff inside the 5-yard line when it appeared the ball was headed out of bounds. Letting it go out of bounds would have given Cal the ball at the 40-yard line. Instead, Bigelow was tackled at the 5.
--WR Marvin Jones had six catches for 66 yards against Oregon, extending his streak to 30 consecutive games with at least one catch.