California was trying to prove itself as a team to be reckoned with in the Pac-10 as the media members didn't think too highly of the Bears ranking them as finishing seventh.
Friday night the Bears saw a reason why that was the case, although the game wasn't all bad there were plays that left a lot to be desired especially from senior quarterback Kevin Riley.
Now not all the blame goes on Riley, the defense looked awful in the first half allowing Nevada to go anywhere on the field, but after the Bears settled down it looked like the game was going to be a good one and close.
The game itself didn't show that as the Bears lost 52-31 in Reno, Nevada. The pistol option destroyed any kind of pressure up front and getting to either quarterback Colin Kaepernick or running back Vai Tua. The Wolfpack was able to gouge huge chunks of yardage out of the defense.
When there were throws by Nevada there was plenty of time to throw with no pass rusher getting near Kaepernick. The best example of that though was after the Bears had scored their second touchdown of the game and with a couple of minutes left in second quarter the Bears defense allowed the Wolfpack to march down the field for a field goal.
After the kickoff the first play resulted in a one-yard run and the second play was a 33-yard pass play to Rishard Matthews to the sideline.
On the play Chris Coste was the man responsible for covering Matthews if the ball had been thrown well it would have been a touchdown, but it was thrown towards the sideline and the momentum of Matthews took him out of bounds.
As a result of the drive and that play the Wolfpack settled for a field goal and instead of the Bears trailing by seven at halftime it was now 10 points.
But, let's get back to the beginning of the game. The Wolfpack marched down the field and put together a 12-play 80-yard drive that set the tone of the first half and the drive took over six and a half minutes to complete.
The Bears first possession looked promising as the kickoff went out of bounds and the Bears started out on their own 40, but the drive resulted in an interception thrown by Riley to Keenan Allen—who should have come down with ball, but instead it was tipped up and intercepted by the Wolfpack.
On quite possibly the second best defensive stand for the Bears, they forced the Wolfpack to punt after only three plays that went for seven yards. With the Bears getting a second chance to tie the game, Shane Vereen didn't mess around and he scored on a 59-yard touchdown run.
After that on the next two possessions for the Wolfpack were touchdowns as the Bears were held to punts. Vereen again was called upon to get the Bears back in the game and he scored from one-yard out to get the Bears within seven points.
As mentioned before, this was the drive for the Bears that got the touchdown. The following possession was the drive that got the Wolfpack the field goal.
Second half began with the Bears trailing by 10. Vereen scored his third time on the night this time making a tremendous cutback allowing him to get free for a 54-yard touchdown run. A new ball game right for the Bears? Was it possible? No.
After the Bears defense held again forcing a punt, Riley made his biggest blunder of the game. He telegraphed a ball to Marvin Jones and the interception turned into a 65-yard touchdown. So, from the possibility of taking the lead, back to a 10 point deficit.
For the next drive the Bears had a chance to score a touchdown, but had to settle for a field goal as Vereen was running on fumes. At least with the field goal the Bears were still in the game with a seven point lead for the Wolfpack.
That was the closest the Bears were seven points because the following two possessions for the Wolfpack turned into touchdowns. On one of the drives the Bears had an excellent opportunity to get back into the game as a fumble was forced with Matthews, but in between four guys he was able to grab the ball and with his score.
On the following series for the Bears there was a blatant missed call by the WAC officiating. Riley threw deep down the field hoping to get a big play and score quickly in hopes of getting the ball back with time to comeback from the deficit.
Jones was interfered, with but no flag was thrown. There was a makeup call a short time later for pass interference which gave the Bears a first down on a third down play.
But, that drive resulted in a turnover on downs as a delay of game put the Bears at fourth and 11 and on the play the ball was not thrown to Allen or Jones, but too Michael Calvin and the pass was nearly intercepted.
Tua then came back with a 54-yard touchdown run to put the Wolfpack up by 21 points. The Bears again marched down the field this time Eric Steven was able to score a touchdown and bring the score back to 14.
Kaepernick ended the game with a 27-yard touchdown to seal the victory. The Bears had another possession, but Riley threw another interception on a pass intended for Calvin and the Wolfpack ran down the clock.
After seeing the replay though, it appeared that Calvin was held, but regardless if he was held or not, it didn't change the outcome of the game.
The main issue for the Bears was the style of offense that Nevada employed—it's a gimmicky offense that no Pac-10 teams really see—so it was hard for the Bears to defend it.
Next Saturday will be a huge test at Arizona and see if the Bears can overcome their first loss of the season to record a win.
One of the other problems for the Bears was the lack of involvement for Allen, after the interception he didn't see a pass thrown his way until the fourth quarter. So, he finished the game with one catch and eight yards.
If Allen is the second best receiver on the team, just because he didn't come up with a play, shouldn't result in fazing him out of the offense.
Besides Riley's one mistake he had a decent game it certainly wasn't anything to write home about he went 23-of-37 for 275 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions.
Vereen had a tremendous game with 19 carries for 198 yards, and three touchdowns. Jones had a huge game receiving wise with 12 catches and 159 yards.
What will be interesting to see is how the Bears come out in Arizona. Will Allen be used more? Will Jones be effective? Can Vereen have a huge day on the ground again? Will Sofele finally show that he's a capable back?
This game was a major test for the Bears and featured a much more talented opponent then UC Davis and Colorado.
Although, the Bears played badly, if a couple of plays had gone their way the game could have been different.
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