[Over the next few months, CGB's editors will be taking a look back at the best moments in Cal sports from the past decade, particularly in football and hoops. There'll be plenty of lists ready for your weekly consumption to pass the time between spring and fall, and we'll give you the chance afterwards to submit your own lists. Then we'll figure out what Cal fans think were the best performances, players, and games of the decade.
We are taking a look at the Big Games of the 2000s. Which was the Best? Which was the Worst? Which was the 6th Best? We start off with, by far, the worst Big Game of the Decade. Don't worry, it gets better from here on in]
Head down, face down, the grass must have felt so nice, then. Considering he had spent most of the in this position, it must have felt so natural. And what's waiting a few extra moments before getting up, hoping against hope that somehow his myriad injuries would heal themselves.
As the twilight faded into sparkling night, Nate Longshore lay motionless on the ground at Stanford Stadium. He appeared to be injured beyond repair. Considering that he had been playing with bone spurs in his ankle for months now, it was not unexpected. Considering that he had been playing behind the amusement park turnstile that was his offensive line, further injury was just plain expected. If only they had left that "You Must Be This Tall To Sack The Longshore" sign at home. The talented, but inexperienced backup Kevin Riley started warming up on the side line in anticipation of spelling Nate Longshore. The fans were cheering wildly. But why? Trying to inspire Nate Longshore to his feet. No. Not even close.
They were cheering the newest injury. Cheering the thought that Longshore would be gone. Cheering the thought that Riley would come in. Even though the last time he played a down (emphasis on the word down), people had cursed his name like he owed them money.
Much to the frustration of the freezing cold Cal fans in the upper region of the erector set known as Stanford Stadium, Longshore stood up. Despite those frantically and sarcastically cheering for his exit, he proceeded to throw the game-tying TD pass. Twice. Both of which were promptly dropped. Then, right on time, came the Back Breaking, Soul Crushing Nate Longshore 4th Quarter Game Losing Interception (TM, All Rights Reserved). The sort of back breaking, soul crushing interception you could set your watch to. You knew it was coming, each and every game.
And they always say that the Big Games are special.
In the story of the 2007 Big Game, what jumps out is the total ridiculousness of the loss. The only loss of the Tedford era to Stanford. With one of the most talented Cal teams (on paper) in the Tedford era. The season, which started like a modern day fairy tale, had turned into a Dickensian hellscape well before the Big Game. The Big Game was the last chance to salvage the seemingly lost season. Finally, those new Cal fans from 2002 on could experience the glory of the old saw "Even if Cal only wins the Big Game in a season, it'd be a successful season." Cal fans were hoping to put that theory to the test.
Looking at the 2007 Cal team, it seemed like the modern day update to a classic Dickensian turn of phrase:
Fog everywhere. Fog in the canyon, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the canyon, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of protest and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the People's Park marshes, fog on the Tilden heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of offensive linemen; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of tree houses; fog drooping on the hulls of stalled construction equipment. Fog in the eyes and throats of veteran football players, wheezing by the shaped iron of their gym; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his Memorial Stadium office. Chance people on the West Side peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds.