In today's Daily Cal, writer Matt Kawahara calls this weekend's game against EWU a "low risk-no reward" game. While the team will benefit from experience in a game environment, he says the benefits stop there.
But from a national perspective-and eventually that will matter-the answer is no, it doesn't help the Bears at all.
Saturday is one of those games that's like an escalator on the top floor: no upside. Cal is expected to win, and win big. If it does, the game will quickly be forgotten. Even if the Bears win but don't dominate, their image could take a short-lived hit.
The only way that Saturday would make a splash would be if Cal somehow came out flat, fell behind and couldn't rally.
I'm not convinced. Give the players some gametime experience and move on before heading into the toughest five weeks of the year: that's the purpose of this game. That's the purpose of playing the C opponent in the A-B-C out-of-conference schedule. Game experience and a win on the record is enough of an upside for me. While wins against such teams may be forgotten, voters are reminded of the outcome every time they look at Cal's record. Even if you play a bunch of patsies and win twelve times in a row the voters will notice. Look at Ball St from last year. They shot up the rankings despite playing teams like Northeastern, Akron, and Central Michigan. The only team I even recognize on their schedule is Navy. Despite all that, they rose to 12th (before, thankfully, they were knocked out of BCS contention). For many voters (especially ones whose closest connection to Cal is checking the scores Sunday morning), a win is a win. Just ask any Big10/SEC team who schedules four OOC cupcakes.
After the jump we have more EWU coverage, news about Giorgio holding onto kickoff duties, some unusual quotes from members of the Maryland team, basketball predictions, and more.
- The EWU Eagles are very excited to play Cal. With seniors who have experience playing teams like Texas Tech, BYU, West Virginia, Oregon St, and Colorado, EWU does not back down from a challenge. The article says expected turnout is going to be about 70,000, but I have a very hard time believing that figure. Don't be surprised to see the second and third team play extensively this weekend. That's right, the Party Yacht will be riding the seas and Beau Sweeney's Cajun family-style eatery will be open for business. Maybe we'll see Beau throw (or run for) his first ever touchdown.
- Giorgio Tavecchio has refined his stride mechanics and retained his kickoff role. This should help him kick off between the goal line and the 5, like he was doing in practice.
- After his breakout performance Saturday, Ernie Owusu might see his parents make the trip from Nashville, TN to Berkeley more often, since his playing time will surely increase. Mychal Kendricks tells us that despite the impressive performance from the linebackers Saturday, we "haven't seen anything yet" and promises improvement.
- Shane Vereen embraces his role as backup where he can keep defenses on their heels while giving Best some much-deserved rest.
- While watching tape of last week's 52-13 defeat some Maryland players believed that they could have won had they executed better on a few plays. LB Alex Wujciak said he didn't feel like "they were that much better than we were."
- The Athlon Sports College Basketball annual picks Cal basketball to win the Pac-10 and advance to the sweet sixteen. Jerome Randle and Pat Christopher make Athlon's all-conference team and, respectively, are named that nation's second-best shooter and sixth-best scorer. PC is 13th on Fox Sports' list of players whose names you will know by the end of the season.