By Connor Buestad
In hopes of retaining any credibility that Bay Area Surf N’ Sport may have as a decent source of sports news and opinion, I’m going to attempt to avoid any bold predictions for this upcoming college football season. Being the wise guy that I am, I boldly predicted on this very site that my Oakland Athletics were a sure fire bet to run away with the AL West crown. This has backfired in a big, big way. To quote Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber, “Criiiiiiipes.”
Now, however tentative I may be to predict the future, I’m holding out hope that the 2009 California Golden Bears will be the team that ends the 50 year Rose Bowl drought that Berkeley is currently experiencing. If nothing else, maybe “Running Wolf” sitting up in the infamous grove of trees outside of Memorial was a curse. Well Bear fans, could it be possible that we finally have cut down our curse? Rose Bowl here we come?
The first step on the long, arduous road to said Rose Bowl will begin under the warm lights in Strawberry Canyon this Saturday night at 7. ESPN2 will be in town for what “Tedheads” hope will be a national showcase for Jahvid Best and the 12th ranked Bears. A breakout game by Best could help solidify the stupid-fast back as a legitimate contender for the Heisman Trophy.
Quarterbacking for the Bears will be Kevin Riley. The Junior should benefit from the confidence that comes with being the clear-cut starter now that Nate Longshore has graduated. Riley is best known around Berkeley for his faulty clock management skills in one of Cal’s biggest football games in history. With a chance to move into the number one slot in the national polls, Riley’s brain cramp dashed any hopes for what was shaping up as a beautiful comeback win for California. However, all will be forgiven once number 13 comes into his own and displays his ability as the effective gunslinger that we all know he can be.
Unfortunately for the Bears, they do not get to play 14 preseason games like they do in the NFL. Without a dress-rehearsal to get he kinks out, game one could be a barn burner. Certainly, Maryland will come into town with the confidence to handle the Bears’ high powered offense. The Terps gave Cal its first loss of the season last year highlighted by a helmet jarring hit on Jahvid Best that caused the star running back to lose his lunch on national television. (For the record, Cal drinks lemon-lime Gatorade). Mind you, Maryland capitalized on a home field advantage that day, bolstered by a 9am pacific start time and 95 degree, humid weather. Even without these advantages, look for Ralph “The Fridge” Friedgen’s team to be prepared to battle on Saturday.
Finally, this weekend’s game is being billed by Cal officials as a “Blue Out” in which all 72,516 fans are encouraged to wear Blue to the game. Be warned, however, that all blue shirts manufactured by Under Armour will be confiscated and burned at the gate.