In Saturday's 44-22 loss to Washington State, California officially committed 5 turnovers -- 3 via fumble. Add on 3 more possessions, which ended on fourth down, and the Bears offense wound up with 8 offensive possessions wasted, with no points and a short field for Connor Halliday and the Washington State offense.
|Yardline||Down||Distance||Play||Ensuing Result||Ensuing Score||Point swing|
|WSU 5||2||G||Lasco fumble, recovered by WSU at 8 yard line||WSU 35-yard TD Pass||7-0 WSU||10/14|
|WSU 1||3||G||Bigelow fumble recovered by WSU at 2 yad line||WSU Safety||14-2||5|
|Cal 26||2||18||Goff intercepted by WSU at WSU 27, returned to Cal 26||Missed FG||WSU 14-12||0|
|WSU 33||4||1||Goff pass tipped at LOS||WSU 72-yard TD Pass||WSU 35-15||10|
|WSU 37||4||9||Goff pass INC for Harper||WSU Field Goal||WSU 41-22||3|
|KO||Bigelow fumble at Cal 10||WSU turnover on down||WSU 41-22||0|
|Cal 27||4||6||Goff pass INC for Lawler (drop)||WSU Field Goal||WSU 44-22||3|
|Cal 41||3||9||Kline intercepted by WSU, returned to Cal 42||WSU knee||WSU 44-22||0|
Cal's 22-point loss makes a bit more sense, when viewed through the lens of the point swings caused by those changed possessions. While assuming point swings is essentially just speculating and guessing, it is easy to see that California left plenty of points off of the scoreboard. Even if the Bears pick up only a field goal on their first drive of the game, one could see how Cal turnovers could have resulted in a 30-point swing in Washington State's favor.
That first turnover was devastating. With the offense driving at the Cougars five-yard line, running back Daniel Lasco took his eye off of the football and let it hit the turf. Like seemingly every other Bears fumble this year, the ball wound up in the opponents' hands. A threat five yards away from a seven-point lead resulted in nothing, and Washington State quickly drove down the field and instead found themselves up by a touchdown after a 35-yard pass to Vince Mayle. Instead of being up 3-0 or even 7-0, the Cal found itself with a deficit. At that point, it was all catching up.
The second turnover was just as devastating, even when it still resulted in Bears points. With first-and-goal at the WSU one-yard line, and a chance to cut the Cougars' 14-0 lead in half, the Bears repeatedly tried to get running back Brendan Bigelow the football on dive plays to get into the end zone. The first two plays were stuffed, as an injury-riddled offensive line failed to give three feet of push to get the football across the goal line. On third down, the Cougars front not only broke through to contain Bigelow; they managed to get the ball out of his hands. For the Bears, first-and-goal at the one quickly turned into a Washington State football.
Though Cal's defense would eventually force a safety, the inability to get a push and find pay dirt on early offensive opportunities was costly. Instead of getting the game to within one possession, the Bears still trailed by 12.
The six turnovers that followed -- two interceptions, one fumble on a kickoff and three turnovers on downs -- resulted in another potential 16-point swing. It is a trend that continues after Cal committed five turnovers against No. 2 Oregon last week. At least against the Ducks, the Bears could point to a raging monsoon and the electric Autzen Stadium crowd as disrupting factors. Against the Cougars -- in perfect weather and a quiet homecoming crowd supporting them -- there is simply no excuse.