If Only There Were Trees To Cut: The Big Game Experience
So I attended my first Big Game on Saturday, and it was quite pleasant. Figures that I’d go four years of undergrad without attending one Big Game. I even passed on the 2004 one when we all thought we were chomping on roses–probably for the best, since I’d probably have been in a coma after the Mack Brown fiasco.
For many years the Big Game was an afterthought. Cal was very good and the ‘Furd were turd farmers. No longer. Last season put everything into perspective and gave every game added meaning, especially to the young Tedheads. So this game had a sense of urgency that most others lack.
Still, even I feel distasteful considering this a true rivalry, only because of how clueless the majority of ‘Furd fans seem to be about their football team and the nature of the game in general. Victorious Cardinal fans revel on the field for a half hour and then go off to talk about how great their alumni are–I’d be stunned if half the students could name anyone on their team. I still am still dazed by that disorganized mass of humanity that they call a band; it’s like the MST3K version of Moulin Rouge, except Tom Servo would blow his circuitry out by halftime from the sheer incompetence.
Stanfurd fans cheered so loudly when they scored two garbage-time touchdowns that you felt like they didn’t even know the rules of the game. Awesome guys, you’re down 21. You don’t get extra points for scoring later in the game. They did have some pretty cool coordinated movement near the end, kind of making me pine for the day when California fans could execute South Korean synchronized cheers. Far better than the Wave.
But other than the bizarro sea of red, the game was a pleasant affair. The Bears played even for the first two quarters, and then put together a dominating display in the third to put the Axe back in safe keeping. Tedford has made the rivalry game pretty easy for us–in his six wins the Bears have won by a combined score of 189-65. Strangely, he seems to have Cal play much looser in the biggest game of the season for most alum; you don’t usually see those tricks pulled in other games.
I was fairly happy with the way the team played, letting Jahvid Best run the football to death and letting Kevin Riley sit back and watch after the lead grow to two scores. Even though the ‘Furd played like they were the better team early on just like they did against USC, they couldn’t overcome their own mistakes. The Cardinal had the chance to make this a game early and took themselves out of it with only three points on three red zone trips early on, even overcoming Bryan Anger’s monstrous punts. You can’t screw up opportunities like that, especially in a road atmosphere (Cal learned that lesson in every one of their losses). Then the defense stepped up, behind Follett and Felder, Syd’Quan and Rulon, Mohamed and Worrell, etc. etc. and the points kept on coming. No bowl for the Cardinal.
More importantly, barring a bizarro Washington finish, it wiped away the last stains of 2007. That season can finally be buried in the hatchet. We’ve reestablished ourselves in the upper echelon, and pretty much guaranteed another top 4 finish in the Pac-10 (our fourth in fifth years). We’re going to be a fine team these next few years, and we’ll get many good opportunities to compete for the Rose Bowl as long as our coach is around. And that’s all you can ask for in the era of Troy.
Oregon State is one win away from achieving what was once thought impossible. Guess what their record was the year before? 8-4.
You can only ponder what’s coming next. But for now, we’ve got the Axe. And one full year of ruling the Farm.
Running backs: A+
Run blocking: A
Pass protection: B
Run defense: B+
Pass rush: B
Pass defense: C+
Special teams: B
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