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No one could be surprised that the Cal offense struggled against a Utah defense that is among the nation's best.

The Bears arrived in Salt Lake City with their offensive line still beat up, and they left home three wide receivers who are battling injuries.

And, of course, they started 18-year-old true freshman Spencer Brasch at quarterback, a matchup that was inevitably a one-sided duel. 

Brasch did very little, and neither did the Cal offense in a 35-0 loss to the 12th-ranked Utes.

But what is happening to the Bears' defense?

Cal had held 14 consecutive opponents under 25 points. Utah had 28 by halftime.

The Bears didn't tackle well, they were at a loss to prevent the Utes from converting third downs, and they did not generate a turnover.

“We didn't play well," coach Justin Wilcox said. "We didn't play the run well, we didn’t play the pass well, we didn’t tackle very well. Whether it was run game, pass game, they were able to do whatever they wanted.”

This really isn't an all-of-a-sudden thing.

The Bears had not played defense at a high level for a while now.

Consider last week when Oregon State -- Oregon State! -- marched 82 yards in 12 plays in the fourth quarter to score the go-ahead touchdown in a 21-17 Beavers' victory.

It was more of the same at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah assembled touchdown drives of 99, 90, 72 and 76 yards in the first half, then opened the second half with a 50-yard TD drive.

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Utah converted on six of its first seven third-down plays,

The most frustrating of the Utes' scoring drives may have been the first one. On a second-and-10 play from the Utah 25, quarterback Tyler Huntley was surprised by a quick snap. He fumble, then grabbed the ball, took a few steps and dropped off a quick pass to running back Zack Moss, who raced 69 yards untouched before being tackled at the Cal 6-yard line.

Two plays after that crazy broken play, the Utes took a 7-0. And the rout was on.

The Bears were a turnover machine on defense last season, squeezing 21 interceptions out of the opposition and scoring five defensive touchdowns.

They created no takeaways against Oregon State and had none against the Utes.

After eight games, they have three interceptions. 

"The Takers," as they nicknamed themselves, have become "The Spectators."

Cornerback Cam Bynum, their best cover man, was badly fooled on a third-and-1 play-fake that quarterback Tyler Huntley turned into a 40-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Thompson.

Linebacker Evan Weaver, the nation's leading tackler, had 22 of them against the Utes - his third game this season with at least 20. But many of those Saturday came as he crossed the field to stop a 10- or 12-yard gain by the Utes.

“We didn’t make the plays we could have made. We could have tackled a lot better," Weaver said.

Wilcox is frustrated because the answer isn't simple.

“If it was one thing we would do the drill and fix it," Wilcox said. 'It’s not one thing. We have to tackle better. We have to better on the run game. We have to cover better. Tonight, we didn’t do any of that. It’s not for lack of effort. If it was one thing, we would do that drill and fix it.”