There are two types of losses that I would argue are the most devastating, at least in the moment they happen: the blowout and the last second heart-breaker. As a fan of both the San Francisco 49ers and the California Golden Bears, I was able to experience both this past weekend.
However, the 49ers at least left me with many silver linings in a game they all-but won. The Bears were another story.
It was one of those games that makes you question everything you know, or think you know about a team. Cal had every opportunity to take hold early, but they never stepped up and Oregon took advantage.
I would have loved to look for unsung heroes for my regular column, but when the highly touted defense gives up 42 points, and the offense cannot find the end zone, it is difficult to believe anyone deserves a pat on the back. I would mention special teams, but they had few chances to shine and failed to when the chances occurred.
With nothing positive to mine out of last week's slaughter, the only thing left to do is figure out what can be salvaged from this season. A loss in the Pac-10 is all but a guarantee that Cal will not be appearing in the BCS Championship Game.
Granted, after last week's performance, it is too early to even think of a shot at the Emerald Bowl.
Cal has no time to wallow or dwell on its loss. The game everyone waited for in the off season is upon us, though it has lost most of luster it had a few weeks back.
With the Pac-10's perennial favorites struggling, Cal has arguably the best opportunity to snap it's five game skid against the vaunted Trojans.
They need to answer key questions if they have any hope of winning: Can Kevin Riley punish teams that sell out to stop the run? Can the offensive line recover some of it's lost dignity? Can the defense prove last week was a fluke?
Those questions will likely be answered Saturday. Most importantly, we will find out if last week was an aberration or a portent of things to come.