September 22, 2007

Could Cal Football's #6 Ranking Be All Wet?

Given the steady drip-drip sounds outside, thanks to an early Fall rainstorm moving through the Bay Area, it seems possible that Saturday won't feature the open sky sun we've become spoiled with every week. With Cal's impending 3:00 p.m. contest against Pac-10 foe Arizona looming Saturday, the prospect opens up that the game might be played in less than favorable conditions - with 50,000 or more fans dodging the elements, ourselves included.

Google's Weather Forecast for Berkeley this Weekend

With the young season three games old, Cal has achieved an impressive #6 national ranking in the AP poll, led only by USC, LSU, Florida, Oklahoma and West Virginia, schools better known for their year-in, year-out football prowess than Cal, despite a good run for my alma mater the last four years or so. And for those of us "Old Blues", who haven't historically demanded much from the school's athletic programs, we're certainly conflicted in how to feel - torn between thinking a national anti-Pac-10 bias doesn't give us the respect we deserve, and our own eyes deceiving us as we find fault with the team, be they "unimaginative on offense" or displaying a defense unable to shut down a good team.

Frankly said, we're not used to this kind of pressure. So used to seeing Cal fail when the big play is needed, or losing a big game, there's a certain part of us that is waiting for the inevitable slip-up, expecting the team to screw up, so we can then point fingers at our prior doubt and prove our unique insight.

In fact, the debate is raging on The Band is Out on the Field and Excuse Me for My Voice over whether the team's secondary or quarterback are up to the challenge of moving beyond their week one win against Tennessee and challenging the traditional leaders, or even taking on their Pac-10 colleagues. With USC looming in the distance, we're already watching the Oregon Ducks and how they've started out strong - and we all remember how Cal lost in the desert at Arizona last year, significantly damaging their Rose Bowl hopes.

That we're ranked #6 overall is great. Our games get mentioned on SportsCenter, and photos from our games show up in Sports Illustrated. But as season ticket holders, while we cheer on the success of good plays, we curse those that don't go our way, and we're biting our nails as we anticipate just what could go wrong. As the rains come down, we think about how just the slightest thing could upset this squad and force their season to slip out of their fingers. Whether we're surrounded by gloomy skies and precipitation or we find the skies cleared, we'll be rooting on our squad and crossing our fingers in hope that, finally, they reach their full potential and make us proud.