Not too long ago, mentioning Ludwig's name would have elicited boos and hisses. One would have thought I was talking about a Stanford coach-such has been the unpopularity of the Bears' offensive coordinator this season.
However, Cal fans' biggest pet-peeves about him-his allegedly bland play-calling and incorrect utilization of players-were largely corrected on Saturday.
Faced with a 14-0 deficit before you can say "The band is out on the field", Ludwig helped turn an inconsistent offense that depended heavily on big plays (in particular, on one big play threat) into a methodical, business-like machine that turned in perhaps its finest performance of the year.
Instead of attempting to gain all the points back in a hurry, Ludwig patiently interspersed Shane Vereen carries with medium-range, rhythm passes to help get Kevin Riley on track.
There was not much to put on highlight reels, as Cal had just two plays go for over 20 yards, but there didn't need to be; the Bears simply lined up as if to say: "Here's what we will do. Now try and stop us."
Between the second and fourth quarters, Cal scored 24 straight points while directing four consecutive scoring drives of at least 72 yards- three of them took up more than 10 plays and spanned over five minutes.
And by churning out 11-of-19 third down conversions, the Bears kept one of the top ball-control teams in the conference off the field for nearly two thirds of the game.
That may just keep the vultures off Ludwig for the time being.
Stanford's dynamic head coach turned some heads when he infamously went for a two point conversion late in the Cardinal's destruction of USC last week.
However, two of his decisions during the the closing minutes of the Big Game may have had some people shaking those heads.
Down three points with about three minutes to go, he took a chance on fourth-and-eight from his own 21-yard line, despite possessing all three timeouts.
Then on Stanford's last drive, Harbaugh elected to throw the ball twice with over a minute left and neglected his Heisman candidate Toby Gerhart - who nearly scored for the fifth time just moments earlier after dragging Cal defenders for 29 yards.
Luck's first pass went incomplete, and the second one resulted in a game-sealing interception by Mike Mohamed.
CAL'S OFFENSIVE LINE
At times, the Bears have been absolutely dominated in the trenches. During losses against Oregon, USC, and Oregon State, the offensive line - which has gone through shuffles at times due to injuries - looked befuddled by the opponent's quick rushers, while also failing to pave the way the running backs.
Saturday was a different story, as Cal racked up 235 yards on the ground and nearly 500 yards overall - particularly behind the blocking of senior Mike Tepper and Matt Summers-Gavin.
A team doesn't sustain three consecutive touchdown drives of at least five minutes and 72 yards without a strong performance up front.