Just when people were starting to talk about the Cal Bears and their potential to challenge for the national championship, the team, coming off eight consecutive wins, sporting an 8-1 record, went to Tucson, Arizona, and simply did not execute. The team couldn't make passes, saw a quiet day from previous Heisman hopeful Marshawn Lynch, and was outplayed in nearly every regard against the now 5-5 Arizona Wildcats. For every Cal fan, who had harbored dreams of a trophy, or at least a Rose Bowl berth, we sit, stunned, frustrated at yet another momentous collapse from an organization that has seemingly always managed to make the least of a great situation.
Every good sports fan knows part of the reason for today's failures - first, the exposure of national television, and second, looking ahead to next week's big game. Cal has never done well on national TV, as seen by the school's week 1 loss to Tennessee, and the debacle against Southern Mississippi in the 2004 campaign. They choke under the bright lights. And while everybody had been talking up next week's game at USC, presumably for the Pac-10 championship and BCS hopes, Arizona was ready to put those talks to rest, outscoring Cal 24-20, effectively ending the game on the third interception of Cal quarterback Nate Longshore, who played one of his worst games of the season.
It's not to say Cal didn't have their chances. In the last offensive drive, DeSean Jackson seemingly put the club ahead 26-24 with a 63-yard touchdown, but he was later ruled to have stepped out of bounds at the Arizona 41. Earlier in the quarter, Lavell Hawkins had stumbled at the 1 yard line, and Cal's offense could get across the goal line, settling for a field goal, where a touchdown was needed. Two interceptions by Cal's vaunted defense were waved off via the penalty. But it didn't matter. One play didn't win or lose today's game. One 60-minute poorly played game kept Cal out of the winner's column, and will put the team on the back pages this year, giving national sports commentators another reason to mock the weakness of the West Coast's elite football schools, and how they could never deign to challenge a Michigan, Ohio State or Notre Dame.
While we can still hold out hope for Cal to go down to USC next week and win, gaining them the front-runner's position on the Pac-10 championship, the team we saw today would be turned into mincemeat by the Trojans. Cal looked weak, sloppy and slow. That's not the team I want to see out there, and as we felt when the A's lost to the Tigers, ending their season, we are full of frustration and emptiness. Our hopes, dashed. There is always next year, but we wanted this year to be "the one".
Listening to ''On Stream'', by Ron Hagen & Pascal M (Play Count: 1)