Tuesday, September 04, 2007

SF Chronicle: Roses are red, Vols are blue, will Cal blow it this year?

By The Betting Fool

Here is the link.

Every Cal fan in every corner of the globe was thinking the same exact thing as the nasty orange-clad SEC team closed the gap to 38-31 early in the fourth quarter on Saturday evening.  Oh no, how is Cal gonna blow it this time?"  When you've seen something happen over and over, it's not so much a matter of if, but when.  We pull back the curtain on this hugely entertaining Cal game and see, in all its shocking glory, Cal DIDN'T blow it this time!  They stepped on Tennessee's neck and kicked them in the teeth, knocking loose whatever teeth they could find. It was a little bit like like the thumping Cal put on Clemson (37-13) in the 1992 Citrus Bowl, but with more teeth. We kid about the teeth because, well, we have them. Is this the year then? Does Cal finally not blow it? Defining a lack of blowage is difficult. Clearly, the BCS title game would work. As would, I imagine for most Bear Backers, a Rose Bowl berth.  What is NOT acceptable, not with the talent and speed on this team, is another vision of Jeff Tedford hoisting that ludicrous whale trophy down in San Diego. A berth at The Murph (sorry, Qualcomm, take a hike) is a bust, a Holiday in Cambodia if you will.  What every Cal fan worth his bumble bee rugby shirt or her tie-dyed Cal sports shirt wants this year is the BCS, the Top Ten. The Rose Bowl would be too glorious. It would also quell the fear in many Cal fans that they will never see the Bears in the Rose Bowl before they die. It almost happened last year, but the wackiness in Arizona and the up-and-down finish by USC made it impossible -- again.

It is noted here that the Rose Bowl ain't what it used to be, not when Texas and Oklahoma are allowed to play in Pasadena via the revolving money-first nonsense of the BCS. I do not even recognize the 2002 version of the Rose Bowl (Miami 37, Nebraska 14) as anything more than a bastard son of a mediocre Orange Bowl. Looking at the rest of the schedule, it's likely a relief to Cal fans that there does not appear to be a reason to perspire until late September. Wins over Colorado State, Louisiana Tech and Arizona should put the Bears at 4-0 and securely in the Top 10. Then, two tree-hugging hurdles -- at the Oregon Ducks in Week 5 and a home game against the Beavers in Week 6. Let's say, for the sake of this column and because Cal is better then both of those teams, they get to 6-0. Wow, heady stuff. To be in line for that coveted Rose Bowl berth, Cal will probably need to go 3-1 over the next four weeks, at UCLA and Arizona State, then home to Washington State and USC. It's a touch ironic that the season in which Cal has maybe it's best team in decades, USC has what many consider one of the most talented teams ever assembled. Oh well, if the consolation prize for all that is the Rose Bowl, Cal fans will take it, and run. No, the Trojans didn't cover against Idaho last week (they were 46-point favorites and won only 38-10). That's because they were laughing throughout most of the game, waiting perhaps until Week 3 when they go to Lincoln, Neb., and turn up the Nasty-O-Meter. Would two losses get Cal into the BCS and the Rose Bowl? Depends on what happens with the other big bullies at the top as the final BCS rankings are fed to the computer.

I have always envisioned Cal-Michigan as a grand version of Cal's long-awaited trip to Pasadena. Looks like that's out the window this season. Besides, the Wolverines are 0-3 in their last three trips to Pasadena and who wants to play a team that's halfway beaten before it's stepped on the field? Cal vs. Ohio State? Hmmmmmm. As Brent Musberger said toward the end of Saturday's game as he tried to keep people from turning the channel: "Folks, stay tuned. There are hippies sitting in the trees here in Berkeley. Anything can happen."

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