After a first half which included some of the dumbest mental mistakes you'll see from a football team, Oregon's talent wasn't enough to bail them out in the second half.
The No. 23 Oregon Ducks (3-2) self-destructed all night in a loss to the then-winless California Golden Bears (1-3) on the road 21-17 at California Memorial Stadium Saturday evening.
Oregon went scoreless in the second half and turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter, including a game-ending fumble by Johnny Johnson III.
Here are the key takeaways from the contest.
1. Awful Penalties Gifted California Points
The Golden Bears' second touchdown drive was thanks to a handful of Oregon mistakes gifting Cal a new set of downs. First, Oregon had forced a 4th-and-1 but had 12 men on the field during the punt, moving the chains for Cal. Then, after getting a third-down stop in the red zone, Kayvon Thibodeaux shoved a Cal offensive lineman after the play drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty once again giving Cal a first down.
Then on fourth-and-goal, Bennett Williams was penalized questionably, at best, for defensive pass interference once again giving Cal new life. The Ducks would allow a touchdown on the next play, capping a 19-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.
2. The Defense has Regressed
If it wasn't clear after losing to Oregon State, despite returning quite a few key players, the Ducks defense has regressed from its stellar 2019 campaign.
While many would blame Defensive Coordinator Andy Avalos, it's important to point out he's working with a team that had three notable players opt out (Jevon Holland, Brady Breeze, Thomas Graham Jr.) and what's left is the youngest roster in all of college football. Also, the team was not allowed to hold practices due to COVID-19 causing a truncated training camp ahead of the 2020 college football season.
Still, that doesn't explain how poor the front four has played with Jordon Scott, Austin Faoliu and Kayvon Thibodeaux all returning.
The defense played quite well in the second half, however, only allowing seven second-half points.
3. Oregon Sure Knows how to Close Out a Half
For the third time this season, Oregon scored a touchdown just before halftime to shift the momentum in its favor heading into the locker room. After scoring a touchdown to get within four points, the defense forced a Bears punt to give the offense the ball with 46 seconds left in the half.
The Ducks went on a 3-play, 75-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 67-yard pass to Travis Dye on a wheel route up the right sideline. Junior running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio would punch it in from one yard out to give Oregon a 17-14 lead heading into the locker room.
4. Tyler Shough is average
Heading into the contest, Ducks fans were mixed on the first-year starter but for the first time all season, Tyler Shough cost Oregon a win.
Despite leading Oregon to two touchdown drives to close out the first half, Shough was quite bad all night routinely missing wide-open receivers and even fumbling away the ball in the fourth quarter. He's not a bad quarterback, but he isn't that good either. With how easy Joe Moorhead makes his job by giving him open receivers downfield, Shough should be putting up much better numbers.
There's a handful of throws every game where the audience can't even understand who Shough was throwing to and feels lucky those balls weren't intercepted.
He ran well enough on the evening but that was all negated when he turned the ball over by putting it on the ground.
Next, the No. 23 Oregon Ducks (3-2) will close out the regular season hosting the No. 22 Washington Huskies (3-1) at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, December 12th.