BERKELEY, CA – In a thrilling Saturday night matchup at Memorial Stadium, the University of California Golden Bears football team came tantalizingly close to upsetting the Auburn Tigers. In fact, they led for a significant time during the game. Despite beating the spread (ESPN reported Auburn -4.5 at kickoff), the Golden Bears fell short, unable to capitalize on multiple opportunities that could have secured a remarkable win. The final score, 14-10 in favor of the Tigers, left Cal fans on the edge of their seats until the very end.

From the outset, it was evident that Cal had the strength and depth needed to win the game. The defense held its ground for the most part, with standout moments throughout the game. However, a pivotal moment came during a sustained Auburn drive that shifted the momentum significantly. Surprisingly, neither Head Coach Justin Wilcox nor Defensive Coordinator Peter Sirmon called a timeout to regroup while the defense struggled to regain their composure.

At that point, the score had been 10-7 favoring Cal. The third quarter was scoreless on both sides. Cal had the edge. Things didn’t give up the lead until the final quarter. The Golden Bears’ defense showed promise, but they were unable to make the crucial stop that could have swung the game in their favor.

Cal’s defense really was exceptional. They forced an incredible four turnovers, the last of which was a forced fumble with under five minutes left on the clock. The Bears recovered the ball in Auburn territory. They needed a touchdown to take the lead because they were trailing by four points. That’s because, on the offensive side of the ball, Cal’s kicking game left so much to be desired. The team’s kicker missed an astonishing three field goals, and the offense suffered a turnover in the redzone, all of which denied the Bears critical points that could have secured a victory despite the defensive breakdown that ultimately led to Auburn’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. The missed opportunities loomed large as Cal fought to close the gap in the final minutes of the game, but they just couldn’t get it done.

“Our defense did a really good job for most of the night,” said Bears Head Coach Justin Wilcox. And yes, save for that one fourth quarter drive, they did a fantastic job. With three timeouts available during that drive, the error was on the coaches.

Despite the loss, the Bears demonstrated that they are a stronger team than many had expected. Looking ahead to their next matchup against the Idaho Vandals this weekend (September 16), the team is poised to bounce back and secure a win. Everyone expects that. However, the true test will come on September 23, when they face the Washington Huskies in Seattle. The close contest against Auburn showed that the Bears can put up a fierce fight, and they are eager to make their final year in the Pacific-12 Conference a memorable one.

Next year, Cal will be competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and that will present a new set of challenges. As they bid farewell to the PAC-12, the Golden Bears aim to depart on a high note, leaving their mark on the conference before embarking on a new football frontier. Cal fans can only hope that the team’s determination and resilience will carry them to victory in the games to come and leave them eligible for a postseason bowl game.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering NCAA football, including various Pacific-12 Conference member institutions, since 2007. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2023 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.