Warm title, no? For the Lurkers out there, feel free to bring a link about anything interesting (Cal-related or not). Alternatively, make a joke or mock someone. In other words, participate! Onto the News and World Report:
All links SF Gate, SFW, and should open in a new window unless otherwise noted. Cal-related stories are in block quotes. Baby had to be rocked for a good 40 min so we runnin' this early bird style.
Why should we trust you this time: Bay Bridge may be repaired by tonight. Is it safe?
Public option? Yeah right. New bill aims to make it an option for those that don't have employer-based insurance.
Affordable housing in Walnut Creek (stop laughing).
RI motorist drove with man in the windshield. Think about that for a minute.
We goin' to Sizzler tonight: CA to award $230 million dollars in nonembryonic stem cell grants (NYT). Why I have to read about it in the NY Times is another issue.
Cliff Lee was carvin'. 10 K's against that lineup is quite impressive.
Saturday's game at Arizona State might offer some insight. The Bears (5-2, 2-2 Pac-10) will meet an ASU team (4-3, 2-2) similarly searching for its identity, trying to determine if it will rise toward the top of the conference standings or drift toward the bottom. Plus, Cal must hit the road and play in front of a hostile crowd.
Put another way: The Bears should learn more about themselves Saturday than they did in victories over UCLA and Washington State the past two weeks.
"It'll be good to get a more quality opponent and really see what we're all about," linebacker Mike Mohamed said.
It was striking to hear Mohamed candidly wonder which Cal team will show up in Tempe. Much like fans, Mohamed sees the wide disparity between the way the Bears played in their five turbocharged wins and the way they played in their two disheartening losses.
"The biggest thing is, can we get the explosive Cal out there? The Cal that scores points early in the first quarter and then the defense shuts guys down," Mohamed said. "We've kind of seen opposite sides of Cal at times, mainly the USC and Oregon games. We're hoping to go out there, put up some points and then hold their offense."
The Bears jumped ahead early the past two games, each time scoring 35 points by halftime. That helped the defense, which knew opponents had to crank up their passing game. Cal surrendered gobs of yardage to UCLA and WSU, but only six second-half points.
Don't count on another gaudy first-half outburst Saturday. Coach Jeff Tedford likened Arizona State's defense to USC's - an ominous comparison, because the Bears managed only one field goal Oct. 3 against the Trojans.
Cal also could find itself in a close game for the first time all season.
Facing an ASU defense that Tedford said is similar to USC's in its personnel and speed, then, means preparing mentally for a game in which ground gains may come in smaller increments.
"We have to educate them to that," Tedford said. "They're going to be watching tape all week long, so it's not going to be a surprise, but it's something we've got to make sure that our mindset is right -- and that our mindset is that we're playing a very difficult defense."
Here’s something that could play no role, a minor or a major role: The weather.
Latest forecast for Eugene on Saturday evening: 50s, breezy and rain.
Now, I realize Matt Barkley isn’t your typical freshman quarterback in any way, shape or form. But I’d be curious to know when he last played a game in the rain. Has he ever played in the rain?
And regardless of that answer, he has not played a game in the rain against a defense like Oregon’s — that, we know for sure.
(If you don’t think playing in the cold, rain and wind could be an issue for a USC quarterback who was raised in SoCal, then you didn’t hear about Mark Sanchez’s five INT performance against the Bills in the cold rain in East Rutherford a few weeks ago.)
I came out of last weekend neutral on this game. But now, after pondering the matchups and the momentum, and after seeing that weather forecast, I’m leaning green.
Feels like a Duck day.
Last week: 2-3
Five-star special: 4-4
All picks against the spread.
Lines taken from the Mercury News.
USC (minus-3) at OREGON: Line opened at 4.5 and has been bet down to three just about everywhere, according to vegasinsider.com. Ducks won two years ago in Eugene, by a touchdown, in similar circumstances (i.e., the best teams in the league, huge stakes). Gimme: Oregon.
CAL (minus-6.5) at ARIZONA STATE: If Cal plays well, it’ll stomp the Devils. But Cal has been known to not play very well on the road. I’ve gone back and forth on this one, but with the number under 7, the favorite feels right. Gimme: Cal
The Bears do have some issues on the team. The defensive secondary and the LBs look like they need some improvement, and the mindset of Kevin Riley is critical. That being said, these kids can improve and they will. And, regardless of what people say - it is not the schemes of the coaches that are causing these lapses. It is the execution of the field. That is the least fixable part of the game - fixable generally only through recruiting. So stop killing yourselves because the kids are not as good as you thought they were. Over time, we will get better.
California 27, Arizona State 20: Arizona State's defense will mostly redeem itself after its letdown at Stanford, but the Sun Devils offense will make Cal's disappointing defense look stout again.
2. Were Arizona State's defensive numbers a mirage? Last weekend, Stanford piled up 473 yards -- 237 yards rushing -- against the Sun Devils, who entered the game ranked seventh in the nation in total defense (248 yards per game) and second vs. the run (58 yards per game). It's fair to ask if the Sun Devils' previously impressive defensive numbers were a function of the middling-to-poor offenses they faced during the early going. They can answer that question by shutting down -- or at least slowing down -- California and running back Jahvid Best.
6. Riley must be sharp in Tempe: Arizona State is going to gang up against Cal's run game, and the Sun Devils have enough talent and speed to make things hard on Best and the Bears' offensive line. That means, however, that there are going to be opportunities in the passing game. Can Cal QB Kevin Riley take advantage? He's been hot and cold much of the season. This would be a good time for some consistent execution. Of course, ASU ranks third in the nation with 13 interceptions.
Item 6 scares the crap out of me. Here's hoping he makes me eat my shorts.