Initial Post-U$C Thoughts
1. My first thought is SCREW YOU ‘SC. I’m really tired of this program and its fanbase treating “knocking players out of the game” as its animating principal. For an example, see Conquest Chronical’s Q&A with CGB the other day. If you need another example, try having a conversation with a U$C fan without them making some reference to the hit Desean Jackson took against them in 2006. All euphamisms aside, these people are talking about deliberately injuring opposing players. It’s weak, it’s classless, and it’s bad karma. And they were bringing it again tonight with their helmet-to-helmet crap and late hits on the quarterback and what have you. I pray that Pete Carroll is duly punished in the afterlife (by which I mean as head coach of the 49ers).
2. As I expected, this game proved to be a bit of a replay of 2006 and 2007. Cal stays with the Trojans until U$C puts the game out of reach in the final minutes. It’s getting pretty old, isn’t it? This one was a little different because Cal was absolutely dominated in the stats, but stayed in the game due to (1) U$C penalties; and (2) fortuitous defensive stops at just the right time. This game was winnable, and that’s the best you can hope for against the Trojans. The Bears let it slip away, again.
3. Did anyone else notice that, for once, we didn’t take a big dump in the third quarter? Both teams were scoreless on the quarter, but that was when Cal was continually driving in ‘SC territory (before coming up empty, of course).
4. Our QB controversy is alive and well. There is no doubt that Riley brought a special electricity to the game when he came in to start the second half. And that drive featuring the called-back Vereen touchdown and Riley’s pick was otherwise a thing of beauty. But he continues to sail balls over open receivers, and he continues to have too much faith in his ability to escape the pass rush. Longshore lacks that electricity, but he hit his receivers and he evaded the blitz. I’m still torn and, I guess, just happy to have both of them.
5. Where was our running game? Many have noted that our running game was extinguished to a large degree by all the penalties that put us in long yardage situations. I would add that U$C was clearly keyed in on the run, and we needed a more consistent passing game to open it up. In fact, if memory serves, the only stretch of the game where we had some successful running plays was the aforementioned third quarter drive. That was the only time the U$C defense looked to be playing scared.
6. It finally time to engage in premature outlandish Cal Rose Bowl scenarios. Yes, there are several avenues whereby Cal could still go to the Rose Bowl. The first would be if Cal wins out and U$C loses two conference games. Of course the chances of U$C losing it’s only two remaining conference games (Stanfurd and UCLA) is basically zero. The second scenario would be if Cal and U$C both win out and U$C manages to move into the BCS top two. However, for Cal to receive an at-large invite to the Rose Bowl, it would have to be in the BCS top 14. That didn’t work in 2006 and it won’t work this year either.
So here’s the most likely scenario whereby Cal could still go to the Rose Bowl: Cal wins out, U$C splits against UCLA and Stanfurd, OSU loses to Cal but wins out thereafter, and Arizona loses its three remaining games (OSU, Oregon and ASU). It’s complicated, but not crazy. Under that scenario, Cal, U$C and OSU would be three-way-tied in the Pac-10 standings with no head-to-head tiebreaker. Under the Rose Bowl selection rules, such a tie is broken by comparing “each remaining tied team’s record against the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings… with the procedure continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.”
If Cal, OSU and U$C are tied and Arizona ends up in the standings below whichever Stanfurd or UCLA team beat U$C, then U$C will be eliminated first from the tie. That would leave Cal and OSU, with Cal winning the two-team tie-breaker through head-to-head competition. However, we need Arizona to lose out because if Arizona finishes tied with the Stanfurd or UCLA team that beat U$C, then the Rose Bowl will move to its next tie-breaker: final BCS ranking. U$C definitely takes that one.
There are a couple other ways this scenario could work out (e.g. if UCLA is the team that beats U$C and UCLA craps out against ASU or Washington), but the above is what I think would be most likely.
Of course all of this depends on Cal winning out. Go Bears, let’s beat the Beavs.
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