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Zach Maynard (No. 15).
Please allow this slide to develop before imploding with utter skepticism.
Remember back when there was about seven-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game. Ohio State had the ball and was driving for the winning score.
On 3rd-and-7, Steve Williams foiled the Buckeyes’ plans by picking off Braxton Miller in a pivotal moment. Cal then had the ball with great field position at the OSU 44.
Sofele, Anderson and Maynard teamed up to bring the road team to the OSU 25. On 3rd-and-1, RB Eric Stevens failed on the conversion.
Tedford called a timeout with 4:25 left.
At this point, Maynard had thrown for 267 yards, a touchdown and the ever crucial zero interceptions. He had helped put his team in position to win the game.
Also helping the Bears’ cause in this regard was the defense. It had held Miller to well under 200 yards passing and forced him into a turnover when it mattered most. A massive upset was in their grasp.
Tedford needed to trust his running backs on 4th-and-short and pull the plug on his kicker when he had already missed from that distance—twice. They would have converted by way of Bigelow, Sofele, Anderson or even Maynard on a draw. The QB already had run one in for a score earlier in the quarter.
At the very least, D’Amato could have attempted a much more manageable field goal with a few more yards gained.
Was Cal blowing its coverage assignments on the game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith acceptable? Absolutely not.
Was Maynard’s interception on the potential game-tying drive okay either? Not at all.
However, neither the defense nor Maynard should have been in their respective positions in the first place. Both did their job, while both Tedford and D’Amato failed to do theirs.
That said, the "winner" in the headline of this slide may need an asterisk based off the final score of the game.