After posting impressive victories over Maryland and Eastern Washington, the real heavy lifting begins for California with road games against Minnesota and Oregon and a home contest against USC in the next three weeks. Haven’t the Bears done this before, cruised through the early portion of their schedule, scored a bunch of points against average opponents and made all believe a Rose Bowl berth is more reality than dream? Cal also has a penchant of dashing hopes as fast as they raise them. Last year, Maryland rained on the Bears’ good vibrations by handing them a 35-27 defeat. Cal finds itself in exactly the same situation this season as last year. After an encouraging 2-0 start, they must travel east to play Minnesota and adjust their internal clocks to account for the three-hour time difference.
Playing Maryland and Eastern Washington probably tells us less about this version of the Bears than opening games against Michigan State and Washington State did last year. Essentially, if the Bears flop against Minnesota on Saturday, it shouldn’t be too much of surprise because the team has yet to be completely unveiled. How much can one takeaway from a victory over a team that went into overtime to best James Madison and a Championship Subdivision opponent?
After two games, we know running back Jahvid Best is dynamic, that Kevin Riley has improved his throwing motion, asserted himself as a leader and taken charge of the quarterback position now that he doesn’t have a certain senior peering over his shoulder. So far, Riley is 30 of 46 passing for 446 yards and five touchdowns. The combination of Best (281 yards, three touchdowns) and Shane Vereen in the backfield and a stout offensive line, which was expected to give the Bears a potent ground attack has been confirmed on the field. And California’s linebacker group, decimated by graduation, has come together nicely and offers more speed than last year’s edition.