George Nikitin, Associated Press
Utah quarterback Jon Hays works through California's defense during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011 in San Francisco.

An ineffective offense and, once again, costly turnovers were just some of the difficulties Utah couldn’t overcome in its 34-10 loss to Cal on Saturday, as they failed to get its first Pac-12 victory in four tries.

Five keys in Utah’s loss:

Utah’s lack of offense

Three of the Utes' first five drives ended in three-and-outs, and Utah ended the first half with only 34 total yards. Any halftime adjustments didn’t improve things much, as the offense never got into a flow. Quarterback Jon Hays seemed to rush things even more and turnovers continued to stop drives in their tracks (more on that below).

Utah turnovers

After taking a break last week against Pittsburgh, the Utes’ not-so-welcome friend reared its ugly head again, this time in the form of three interceptions and a fumble. Hays’ first interception came just before halftime and led directly to a Cal touchdown, and a second-half pick was returned 32 yards for another score.

Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen and quarterback Zach Maynard

The duo was difficult for Utah to deal with, as it connected eight times. Utah had a hard time with the nation’s leading receiver before Saturday (averaging 138 yards per game). Allen finished with 78 yards on eight receptions. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver generally had his way with the mostly smaller Utah secondary. For Maynard’s part, the signal-caller was effective, totaling 255 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-29 passing. He also rushed the ball 10 times for 36 yards and a running score.

Cal running back Isi Sofele

The Cottonwood High School product ran strong against the school to which he initially verbally committed.

The junior finished the game with 84 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

Cal field goal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio

Even though the Bears scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half, some of their drives stalled. Tavecchio was there to pick up those pieces, as he was 2-of-2 on field goals in the first half, although he misfired on a second-half opportunity.

Chris, who has been covering sports ranging from high school preps to professional teams for almost twenty years, feels that football season is the best time of the year. He can be reached at