With one game left on its regular-season schedule, the Cal football team can still finish this season with 10 wins, in a multi-way tie for second place in the Pac-10 and ranked in the national top 20. Who saw that coming on Oct. 4? That was the Sunday after the Bears lost 30-3 at home to USC. Eight days before, they had lost 42-3 to Oregon on the road. They went into their bye week, having tumbled from No. 6 in the country, surrounded by negativity and questioned repeatedly about the possibility of this being a repeat of the 2007 meltdown.
It hasn't played out that way. Since the bye, Cal has quietly won five of its last six games and is 5-3 in the Pac-10, with only a trip to Washington remaining. The Bears' one loss in that span came against Oregon State on Nov. 7, when tailback Jahvid Best suffered a serious concussion leaping into the end zone in the second quarter and was carted off the field.
"I said it earlier in the season," senior safety Brett Johnson said. "People asked me if we were going to go through the same slump we went through, and I told them we've got a whole new group of people with different mentalities. I knew we were going to come back, knew we were going to bounce back. We just had to come back and focus the next week and we did."