The California Golden Bears take on the Oregon Ducks Saturday for what looked like, in the pre-season to be a tough game. Then, Oregon imploded at Boise State (Boise tried to give the game away but the Duck's did not want it), they struggled to beat Purdue by 2 points at home (one of the worst teams in the Big Ten) and beat a Utah team which also looked a lot better in pre-season.
Oregon lost a TON of players from a team last year that the Bears handled handily in Berkeley (26 to 16). Cal, on the other hand, is a much stronger team. This game is in Eugene, so there is the possibility that the Road crowd will make the Bears a bit nervous. However, last time we played there in this position, against a Dennis Dixon as a Senior led team, the Bears pulled it out even with an injured Nate Longshore, who did not pass for the entire 4th quarter. Autzen Stadium is not a Bear trap. This is one game where the team will be up, and will be ready to play against.
Most of the players had a Oregon Scholarship offer. All of the players know JT and Ludwig coached there. JT is not going to let Oregon off the hook on this game, guaranteed. He always pulls out the stops, and gets the offense flowing.
Obviously, this year, our best foot forward is Jahvid Best. That being said, we will probably start with pushing it up the gut. One of the best ways of taking a home team out of it is by running up the gut for three scores in a row. The Front running fans at Oregon, who trickle in during the half to see what the score is (particularly in a 12:30 game, when they want to be boozing it up before hand) are not going to be loud if they show up and the Bears are cruising. I think the Bears defense can clearly handle Masoli. He can take a hit, but not 15 or 20. Which is what he is going to get as the Bears take over this game. This is a statement game for the Bears about who wants the Pac 10. I think they know that, and I think Tedford's comments this week - even if not true - are a testament to that mind set. When he said that his players were practicing with intensity - not tense - but intense - that is a signal to the team. And I expect that they all know, this is the big week to show the world that the Bears can play on the road, they can win the games they need to, and they can take this title this year.
Meanwhile, back at USC....
Pete Carroll drags his QB under the bus, basically telling the media that he sucked, he was lucky not to have three or four more picks, and that Barkley is going to start- even though Barkley himself thinks he is not healed yet.
This is going to be interesting to see when Washington State goes after Barkley. One tough sack on that shoulder and he is out for the rest of that game, as well as the Cal game. Pete must be in a panic. The Bears are coming up next, he has no QB - he is thinking total implosion. I do not see them losing to Washington State - that is whey they are on the schedule. But really - he is kinda freaking out about his offense right now, and it is interesting to see how it is all going to go down when it finally does go down. There is not a lot of pretty under that smooth exterior.
Speaking of injuries - there was a bout of flu on the team, and maybe more than one. Matt Summers-Gavin went down for a day or so, but is apparently back practicing. Syd, however, is out with a sore back, and possibly a flu. So he is not playing right now. He needs to get better, before tomorrow.
Spencer Ladner will be out for a few weeks longer than expected. That is a difficult position for the Bears, as we have lost one to early NFL aspirations, one to injury already. I think we are down to five, but only two with any real experience playing. That is an area to keep an eye on.
Jahvid Best seems to be doing fine, after resting his foot up for a few days after the Minnesota game.