This evening presented the last home game for Cal football of the season, against one of our most hated conference rivals, USC. What should have been one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the season was instead a battle of two lower-ranked Top 25 teams who had better days behind them. Sprinkle in a few sprinkles, and some more... and then some more... and we ended up having a soaking wet evening that wrapped up with Cal doing what it seems to always do in these big games. Losing.
Around 3, my wife and I put on our Cal gear, grabbed our tickets and headed to the car to make our way to Berkeley. It was misty in Sunnyvale, but not sprinkling all that much. The further north we drove, up 880, the more it started to rain, never letting up. As we walked to the game, after grabbing BART at the Ashby Station, our umbrellas were out, and we were debating if we should have donned our ponchos right away.
Getting into the stadium, we saw more than 70,000 fans in all colors of poncho - from the Red and Gold USC fans, to the blue and other colors of Cal fans. I reached into my bag only to realize we had two ponchos, but one white (for my wife) and one orange - a shade too close to red for my own good in a quite hostile crowd. So for the full game, as I jumped up and down and yelled from my seat, the rain poured down, dripping from the bill of my cap. My shoes had turned dark with precipitation, and as I would slap my hands to my saturated jeans, the would spray with water. My Cal jacket, hanging damply at my sides, could be wrung out at the elbows and wrists, not exactly keeping me dry.
But the game went on.
Cal scored first, going up 7-0, before letting the Trojans tie the game up 7-all at the end of the first quarter. A few frustrating drives later, it was 14-10 USC at the half, as the rain continued to fall, and many fans considered whether they should trust their better judgment, giving into the elements and going home. Many did.
And the rains kept coming.
The second half started with USC getting the ball, and driving down the field, stopping short of a touchdown, but putting 3 more points on the board, taking a 17-10 lead. Cal struck back with a touchdown of their own, making it 17-all to end the 3rd quarter.
But we were already gone.
While I was willing to play the part of a human puddle, my clothes stuck to my body and the slight wind keeping me all too cool while cheering on the Bears, the elements proved to be too much for my wife. Her jacket, covered by a poncho, with a sweatshirt and blanket besides couldn't overcome Mother Nature's assault, and we had already made our way back down to the BART station to return home. After two full years of A's season tickets, and at four of Cal football games, we had finally found one that saw us leave well before the game's conclusion.
But the game went on.
As we drove down 880 South, we hit the dashboard, frustrated, as we listened to USC's march down the field to gain the lead 24-17. We gnashed our teeth as Cal looked to come back, only to throw another interception, effectively giving up the game. We rolled our eyes as time expired, and the Bears were handed their 4th loss in 5 games, sending the rest of the valiant fans who had stayed behind home with feelings of frustration and emptiness, as another Saturday came and went without the Bears fulfilling their potential.
For our family, we're now at a crossroads. The A's season long behind us, lingering only as memory, the Cal home schedule complete, we're done for the year, barring a special one-off to see the Kings in Sacramento, the Sharks in San Jose, or maybe another 49ers game. But for now, we're on hold. We can put our ballcaps away, dry our clothes, and hope 2008 brings better news. 2007 left us with the occasional sparks of excitement, but far too much loss and frustration.
The rain didn't help.