Saturday, September 19, 2009

Contra Costa Times: Bears looking for a smoother road

Jonathan Okanes

Prognosticators who have Cal penciled in as Pac-10 champion this season are making one significant assumption: The Bears will be able to win on the road.  Cal enters this morning's game at Minnesota just 1-8 in its past nine road games dating back to the 2007 season. The only win came at Washington State in the first road game of 2008.  The Bears can't afford to lose too many games if they want to entertain thoughts of advancing to their first Rose Bowl since the 1958 season. That means Cal will have to win the majority of its road games. "It definitely has to improve," Cal quarterback Kevin Riley said. "If we want to talk about Rose Bowl at all, we have to win pretty much all the games on the road. We just have to be ready and prepare as best as possible."

The Bears' streak of road futility began immediately after coach Jeff Tedford notched one of his biggest road wins at Cal. The Bears beat Oregon at Autzen Stadium midway through the 2007 season, giving them a 5-0 record and ultimately a No. 2 national ranking. But Cal won just one regular-season game the rest of the year, and lost games at UCLA, Arizona State, Washington and Stanford. After beating the Cougars last season, the Bears went on to lose road games to Maryland, Arizona, USC and Oregon State.  "Being able to win on the road is very important to us," Cal linebacker Eddie Young said. "For us to be the type of team we want to be, we have to win on the road. We didn't do that last year."

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