Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No Time to Smell the Roses, Yet...

So last weekend’s loss to Arizona made me cry a little. That is, until I realized that there really is only one Bowl Game that matters to an Old Blue and we haven’t seen it since Eisenhower was still President. If we beat the University of Spoiled Children this week, Cal goes to the Rose Bowl.

I, for one, would take the Rose Bowl over the BCS Championship any day.

Or we could go to the Holiday Bowl, again, if we lose.

Last week, we failed pretty miserably at Arizona. An Achilles heel of our was definitely exploited. Once Marshawn Lynch got stopped, Nate Longshore had to play the game for us and just couldn’t do it alone.

And Lady Luck decided to take a vacation. DeSean Jackson pulled out some of his magic and gave us a 79-yard touchdown…but stepped out of bounds to nullify it. We intercepted twice in the third quarter but lost both to penalties.

But U$C isn’t unstoppable. We knew that when we beat them before their winning streak started, Texas knew it at the Championship game last season, and Oregon State knew it just a few weeks ago. Hell, even Tommy the Trojan knows that they aren’t 100% effective.

Cal’s special teams are among the best around.

Look at punter Andrew Larson, for instance. Besides making me sweat every time I see him on the field, he has already made us forget that Aussie kid that kicked the ball last year. DeSean Jackson is the miracle man that can turn a punt return into a touchdown without a thought.

I know he is Boi from Troy’s dream man, but Booty can get a little shaky under pressure. He’s no Matt Leinart, but he is good. It’s no secret that our pass defense is lacking, but if we can keep the pressure on for the whole game (instead of just one half) we have a chance at weakening the Southern California game.

It certainly won’t hurt that we have Daymeion Hughes out there to pick off a few interceptions for the Bears. If we can prevent penalties (which we seemed to have a hard time with in Arizona) the Trojans passing game could suffer a little.

Our defense is going to need to hold very strong against the USC rushing game. They continue to be a leader in rushing yards. Fortunately, our defense ain’t too shabby, either. Last week, though, they were a bit weak. I think on Saturday they will remember to bring their game.

Junior running back, Marshawn Lynch is so hot right now. That is, when he isn’t being stopped by an Arizona defense. In case a similar scenario happens at the Coliseum, Nate Longshore will need to pick up his game.

The key to the game is to stay focused, remain aggressive for all four quarters, and keep the pressure on. The boys in Blue and Gold have it in them to win if they can rattle the Southern Cal offense with some good pressure against Booty and some picks by Hughes. One of our biggest setbacks has been that our team only plays aggressively for about half the game. We can't risk that against USC.

Remember that the Golden Bears and the Trojans have a 5-5 record in the last 10 contests. In fact, Holmoe picked up some of those wins. Tedford can surely pull this one out and send us to the Rose Bowl.

Of course, my pick to win is California. But it will be close...too close.

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