The Bears are coming off a couple of their worst losses in recent years over the last two weeks. They got pounded by an un-ranked Oregon squad while they were ranked 6th on September 26th, 42-3, followed by a 30-3 loss to USC on October 3rd.
This 2009 season has an eerily similar feel to it as the Bears' 2007 run, in which they started off the year 5-0, looked like national championship material, then completely melted down in the second half of the year, losing 6 of their final 7 ballgames. The Bears have had to sit on these last two losses for two weeks, and no matter what they say, you know that season is playing over in those players minds, as well as Jeff Tedford's. After what's seemed like a month of inactivity, they'll finally get their redemption shot vs. the struggling Bruins. The one thing they absolutely have to do in order to get back on track, is get Jahvid Best going early, and often. Best was a pre-season Heisman hopeful coming into the season, and after 3 games he had 412 rush yards along with 8 touchdowns. However, he's hit a wall, literally, over the last couple weeks as he's averaged just 3.4 YPC and has totaled just 102 yards on the ground over their last two games. He's still not totally out of the Heisman race yet (a 5 TD week can buy you a couple of off games), as there is still a ton of football remaining, but in order to make his way back onto the list of consideration he's going to have to turn it back around now.
In the midst of the struggling rushing attack, Kevin Riley has had a pretty rough couple of games as well. A big part of the reason for Best's struggles over the last 2 games is because of Riley's in-efficiency. Teams simply do not think Riley can beat them through the air, and after seeing Oregon and USC's formula for beating them, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bruins pack 8-9 guys in the box and beg Riley to throw the ball 35+ times. They need to get some short, intermediate routs going and definitely some screens. Best has only caught four balls over the last 2 games, and he should be getting at least 3-4 designed screen plays to him each game, just to get him the ball in the open field a bit. I'm no college football odds master or game picker, but I say the Bears end up getting back on track in this one, and cover the 3.5 spread by a large margin, Bears win 27-16.