It's fair to say that nearly everyone polled prior to the college football season commencing had the Cal Bears rated much higher than the Stanford Cardinal. Besides USC, Cal was supposed to be the dominating team in the conference and seriously challenge for a bid at a national championship.
We all know what came next--a colossal collapse that rivals some of the top falls from grace in recent college football memory. Unfortunately for Cal, it is beginning to rival their own collapse of 2007.
After the 2007 debacle, it took a complete season along with a respectable 9-4 record before national pundits would again take the program seriously. And now that they have again taken the Bears seriously, only to be snake-bitten once again, Cal will have to shake what ails them and make a serious run to close out the season if they want regain their prestige.
More importantly than gaining credibility in the eyes of the media is regaining the credibility of the program for current and future recruits. No loss hurt Cal more than the loss to USC at home. At that home game, the Golden Bears had many of their top recruits visiting the campus. Instead of giving them an inspirational victory to watch, those recruits were given a good dose of second-guessing whether or not to come to Cal.