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Archive for November, 2019

UCLA preview

Just going on record for a prediction…

I don’t see tonight going well for the following reasons:

  1. Big Game hangover (see 2009, UW game)
  2. Thanksgiving week road game (see 2017, UCLA)
  3. Rose Bowl venue is not kind to Bears for some reason (See 2017, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2007, 2005, 2003, 2001)
  4. UCLA always plays Cal tough, particularly of late (see 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2017, 2018)

If these two teams played each other in some fantasy neutral game, where it was just talent and scheme against each other, I think the Bears would have about a 60/40 shot at a win. But sometimes all the stars suggest otherwise.

Bears lose 27-17

Big Game preview

I’ll state right up front that this “preview” is more of an emotional plea instead of my normal analysis. And here’s why: I desperately desire something that uplifts my soul today. I desire something that will inspire me to renew my season tickets. I desire something that will make me feel that 40+ years of Cal football fandom has not been in vain.

And it seems like if there was ever a time when the Big Game could do that, it would be today. Stanford is the most vulnerable they’ve been since Harbaugh took the coaching job in 2007. Since that happened, Cal has only won the Big Game twice: 2008 and 2009.

The 2009 Big Game was a great moment for Cal football. Down on the farm an underdog Cal team brought the sort of effort that only can come in a rivalry game. Even when they were down 14-0 after two big Gerhart rushing touchdowns in the 1st quarter made it look like the Bears had an impossible task, they clawed their way back. And when Mohammed sealed the win with his interception with just over a minute left, it was a moment of great euphoria.

While we’re thinking back on great Big Game wins, let’s go back to another great day in Cal football: November 23rd, 2002. Stanford had won 7 Big Games in a row going into that Saturday. But for the first time in a long time there was hope that Cal could overcome so many years of Big Game frustration. People forget how much there was doubt at that moment… Cal had lost some games we thought they should have won in the weeks leading up to the Big Game. Even though Stanford was having a terrible season after the departure of Willmingham, there was the memories of recent Big Games where Cal seemed to be poised to end the streak. And what were were given that day? One of the most cathartic, joyful wins in Cal Football and Big Game history: a 30-7 start to finish drubbing of Stanford.

That’s what I desperately desire today: A win that uplifts my spirits and gives me hope. I’m not picky how it goes. It can be of the 2009 variety: A tough hard-fought close victory. And of course who could complain about something that emulates the 2002 game? I’m even open to some other sort of uplifting win. Perhaps some sort of “the Cardinal never crossed the 50” sort of defensive beat-down. But however it happens, that’s what I desire from the depths of my soul: an uplifting win that gives me faith in the Sturdy Golden Bear yet again.

Is that too much to ask? I know that it’s a rare thing when we get a moment like that. I know it’s not this teams fault that my faith is wavering. Nevertheless, this is where I, and I think a lot of other Cal fans, are this morning.

The Cardinal is vulnerable today. For the love of Oski, give me a reason to believe again. Because if the Bears lose to this weak Stanford team, how could I possibly hope that the Bears are on the right track?

Nevertheless, I place my hope in this team and what they are capable of. Please Bears, remind me again what Joe Kapp famously said after another great Big Game win:


Apparently I wasn’t as ready as I thought

I knew that what I needed was to get Cal football out of my mind to get some emotional distance.

Of course, having a win over WSU makes it easier to come back, but I think it wouldn’t have mattered. I would have been ready either way at this point.

Apparently that wasn’t as true as I thought. The USC Game re-sucked the life out of me. I just wasn’t expecting that sort of loss. I think I would have been ready for a low scoring but close loss. I also think I would have been ready for a low scoring but multi-score loss because the Cal offense could get nothing going. I might have even been ready for Cal losing a multi-score, but high scoring affair loss (at least the offense would have shown some promise).

But I was not ready for the blowout.

Thinking back to the last time I was so disheartened this long, the worst part of the end of the Tedford era was when the team just wasn’t competitive against the best teams. When Cal would go play Oregon, Stanford, USC or Washington and just get crushed like an FCS team gets crushed. From first snap to final whistle the team just didn’t have the players or the scheme to compete.

What has been so uplifting about the Wilcox era until last Saturday was we could walk away from the game thinking that with a couple changes, or perhaps a couple of good recruits (like perhaps a 4-star QB recruit who delivers on his hype), or even just a few less injuries, that even the worst losses could have gone the other way.

That is not how I felt after I walked out of the stadium early in the 4th quarter against USC. I felt like Cal was manhandled from start to finish and was in no way competitive. And most troubling, it was the Cal defense that looked overwhelmed… something we haven’t seen until the Utah (and that was just glimpses) and now USC games.

And so yet again, I needed to take a step back. Even though I had the equipment in the car, I didn’t record a OTRH podcast. I couldn’t see any value in ranting, particularly considering that’s what my last podcast (OSU) had been.

But I’m back today. (more to come shortly)

USC Preview

I’m back!!! Sorry for the lack of posts the last few weeks. After the Oregon State game I needed a few weeks away from Cal football. That loss was SOOOO demoralizing. It was very taxing on my soul. I knew that what I needed was to get Cal football out of my mind to get some emotional distance.

Of course, having a win over WSU makes it easier to come back, but I think it wouldn’t have mattered. I would have been ready either way at this point. In fact, I might have been ready before the WSU game, but I had other commitments that kept me away. I had a critical project associated to the transit of Mercury last Monday. So despite the fact I had my season tickets, and was theoretically available to go to the WSU game, I didn’t go merely because I had a ton of work to do before the transit.

In either case, I’m back now. 🙂

Onto the preview… It’s so hard to know what to make of both the Bears and of USC. USC has been very inconsistent. Cal has been mostly horrible through all of the injuries, particularly those at QB.

So, are we going to see the USC team that beat Utah or the team that got manhandled and throttled by Oregon? The one thing you can say about USC is they’ve only lost to good teams. Oregon, Notre Dame, Washington, and BYU (OK, they’re the weakest of the 4 by far). So USC isn’t laying any eggs in the Win-Loss department, unlike our beloved Bears. So my gut says USC is going to be a much tougher win this year than last.

And then there is the fact that Chase Garbers is back for the Bears as well as a number of other injuries are clearing themselves up. Chase hasn’t lost a game all season and was looking pretty darned good before he got injured. So are we going to get a ‘where-he-left-off’ Chase or will there be some rust to shake off? And what about the rest of the returning talent that started to look reasonably good/back last week?

It all leaves a lot of question marks.

My crystal ball sees that this game will come down to the Cal defense. They have to give the offense a lot of chances to score and not need that many scores to win. I think Chase is going to be somewhat inconsistent as he shakes off the rust. He’ll have some good drives and some bad drives. I’m guessing 2 TD’s and 2 FG’s worth of good drives… but only if the defense keeps getting the offense the ball back.

But if USC did a good job watching Utah and Oregon State film, and can expose the Bear’s defensive weaknesses, which they theoretically have the talent to do, then this game could be long and frustrating. USC can play keep-away and not give the Cal offense many chances.

But I’m going to be the optimist today (cautiously so) and predict that the defense comes out fired up and wins the game for the Bears.

Cal 20, USC 16