A rough road game experience? Shoot, Syd'Quan Thompson can tell his California teammates all about that. The humbling the Bears took at Maryland last year? That was nothing. In 2006, Thompson was a redshirt freshman thrust into duty because starting cornerback Tim Mixon had suffered a season-ending knee injury. Thompson, sporting a bulbous cast on an injured hand, walked out in front of 107,000 orange-clad fans at Tennessee and looked across the line at future NFL first-round draft pick Robert Meachem. Yikes. And Meachem just flat cleaned Thompson's clock as the Volunteers jumped ahead 35-zip. The 35-18 final count doesn't do justice to just how horribly wrong the day went for what turned out to be a good Cal team, one that finished 10-3 and then would stomp the Vols the next year in Berkeley.
That game, however, is Point A of Cal's road woes. In coach Jeff Tedford's first four seasons -- 2002 to 2005 -- the Bears were 14-9 on the road. Away from the West Coast, they were 5-2. But, including that ill-fated date in Knoxville, the Bears are 5-11 on the road since 2006, including a pair of beatdowns in the (cue shower scene music from "Psycho") Eastern Time Zone. In both 2006 and 2008, the Bears' only defeats came on the road. Now might be a good time to mention that No. 8 Cal visits Minnesota on Saturday, which is in the Central Time Zone, but the kickoff time -- noon EST -- means it will feel like breakfast for the Bears.