Rocky, But on Top–Cal-Tennessee Recap
In a word? Satisfying.
This game was utterly satisfying, considering all the hype, the motivation, the stakes. I felt the anxiety growing in the pit of my stomach as early as Thursday, and it just grew more stark as the hours rolled by. It wasn’t fear of Tennessee, although I knew there was a good chance we could lose. It wasn’t even that our BCS chances could get busted off the gap, with a tough road schedule looming. It was more of a nervous, giddy excitement; our team would finally get a chance to prove we belonged with the best. And we did.
Everyone shrugged when Cal was passed over for the Rose Bowl in 2004, because no one really believed we belonged in that class just yet. And those beliefs were justified by the Volunteer pounding at Neyland. Now finally we can take the monkey off our back, and stop pointing to broken pinkies and bizarre playcalling. In spite of this, in spite of that…for years, these people have said you show up on Saturday and the better team wins (just ask Michigan. HA). Tennessee was the better team last year, and Cal returned the favor this year. Simple as that.
And it was a typical Cal game–shaky defense, powerful offense, and a few “Wow” plays that all of us have been seeing with greater frequency with each passing year in the Tedford era. I’m not exactly certain this had the fingerprints of all-around excellence like the Oregon/UCLA games did last year, but it was pretty close. Considering how long we’ve been waiting to prove that we’re worthy of national respect, this was definitely a big first step in that direction.
We’ve entered a whole new ballpark. Cal has firmly stamped themselves as a fixture on the college football landscape, and entered the era of legitimacy. I’m just glad I was there to be a part of it, to show that we did indeed belong.
Even if there were guys outside the stadium yelling “Bears love trees”.
(I have more analytical thoughts, but I need to sleep. I’ll share them tomorrow.)
Just for a treat, for those of you who missed the best (or just want to see it again), here are some awesome Cal highlights, thanks to Our Sturdy Golden Bear. I could watch that punt return all day long.
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