Cal versus Colorado: A Trip Report

Can anybody ride Ralphie??

Welcome to the new #1 destination in the Pac-12, at least for Cal fans.  Boulder can’t compete with the Bay Area, but it takes over the #2 spot from Seattle on the basis of weather, beer, potential for skiing, and the lack of obnoxious husky fans.  Nothing else is remotely close (yeah, I understand that some LA natives like LA, but, on the other hand, LA sucks).

United Air: I almost always fly Southwest or Alaska, because my most exotic destinations are usually Seattle, WA or Burbank, CA.  Those airlines are fine by me, but United has one big advantage: it broadcasts the flight control chatter on the in-flight radio (channel 9, right between 98 Degrees songs in the "smooth" mix on channel 10 and Katy Perry’s robot voice machine on channel 8).  For aviophobes like myself, it’s a great comfort to hear things like "United 441 whisky foxtrot zulu 1275.6"  I have no idea what it means nor why it’s comforting, but it is.

Boulder is very accessible from the Bay, just over a two hour flight from Oakland and then a 30-40 minute drive from the Denver Airport.  It’s a beautiful setting, nestled right up against the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains.  Unlike the Sierra, which have long, rolling foothills to the west, the Rockies go pretty much straight up, so you can have a decent sized city like Boulder right at the base of the mountains.  We went on a short hike Sunday afternoon, and while it wasn’t spectacular like, say, the John Muir Trail, we were only at about 6,000 feet, not 14,000.  Still, it is an incredible luxury to live in an interesting metropolitan area just a 5 minute drive from the base of a major mountain range.  When I say I wish the Bay Area was located in Sacramento or Auburn, this is what I mean.

Pearl Street is Boulder’s Telegraph, albeit not as unique as our original.  I like that Telegraph is a bit grittier and has fewer boutiques and chains, but I would love it if Telegraph had a brewery like Mountain Sun (http://www.mountainsunpub.com/).  We sampled a dozen beers there on Sunday, most of them good, and some, like the ANNAPURNA AMBER, the XXX PALE, and the Nitro-tapped COLORADO KIND, great.

Mtnsunlogo_sm_medium

via www.mountainsunpub.com


Mountain Sun was not the best even the best Brewery we visited in a 24 hour window.  That honor goes to Avery Brewing Company (http://www.averybrewing.com/).  We took the hotel shuttle to Avery on Saturday night, and while (debatably) not as awesome as the game, it was close.  If we didn’t know it was a blessed day when Maynard and Keenan converted a 1st and 30 in OT, we did when we found out that this beer (http://beernews.org/2011/09/repoterroir-collaboration-debuts-on-tap/) was making its debut, and for only one dollar a pint.  I’m pretty sure if you just dumped some Allagash and Dogfish Head into a bucket and stirred, it would come out pretty good, but stumbling upon a collaboration between those two, Lost Abbey, Avery, and Sierra was surreal.  We’re Cal.  We don’t convert 1st and 30s to win in OT on the road, nor do we just happen upon a collaboration between 5 of the top breweries in the US, making its debut on tap that evening.  Good fortune is strange and eerie to a Cal fan, but I could get used to it.  The pass, catch, and run from Maynard to Allen was sublime.  The Repoterrior was unique, a peppery lager unlike anything I’ve had before, quite delicious, and extremely refreshing.  We sampled most of the menu, and the Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest Lager was the best thing I tasted all weekend, aside from the sweet, sweet taste of victory.  And while this isn’t clearing a very high bar, their sweet potato tots covered with green chili were definitely the best tater tots I’ve ever had.

 

The two breweries dominate my memory, but Ruebens and The Buff were also great.  Ruebens had a pretty ridiculous list of Belgians, along with a shorter but still impressive list of Burgers, all of which were available in bison form.  Of course future RemorsefulCBKWitWife and I chose bison over beef on Friday night, and we take full credit for Cal’s victory the following day.  The Buff was jammed for Sunday Brunch but still accommodated our group of 11 in less than a half hour, and the dollar mimosas would have been $5 in the Bay.  All of the food and beer we ingested throughout the weekend was painfully cheap.  Most of the bars also serve Dale’s Pale Ale (http://www.oskarblues.com/the-brews/dales-pale-ale), possibly my all-time favorite beer, from nearby Oskar Blues Brewery.  Enough about food.

On Ralphie:

Paleodan would present an empathetic, compassionate argument:  How cruel it is to keep a gigantic animal caged up in a barely buffalo sized trailer.  What it says about our barbaric culture when we gather by the tens of thousands to watch young men destroy themselves for our enjoyment, then mindlessly scream with pleasure as a wild animal in a metal harness is paraded down the field.  It brings up nuanced questions with deep implications about the way we interact with the natural world and the very essence of our nature.

My reaction:  Holy shit, they have a fucking buffalo stampeding across the field!  That is the fucking coolest thing I have ever seen!!  Why don’t we have a live bear ripping apart a Douglas Fir at our games?

Football:

As has been repeated several times in the last 48 hours, this is one of those road games we have usually lost over the last few years.  I can vouch for this, because I saw Cal lose them to ucla in 2007, Maryland in 2008, and Nevada last year.  It’s clear that Cal has more talent than Colorado, but our recent is history is the one reason I hesitated to call this a sure win.  With our defense against a rebuilding team that we beat by 45 last year, especially one that employs Steve Marshall, this game is a slam dunk on paper.  However, many of us predicted a struggle before the season (http://www.californiagoldenblogs.com/2011/7/23/2284345/when-is-the-pac-12-not-the-pac-12-when-it-is-a-bear-buff-matchup), and unfortunately, we were right.  I hope that Colorado goes on to tear up the Pac-12 South, but I think it’s more likely that neither Cal nor Colorado is very good this year.

I’m also hesitant to proclaim this a turning point for the program.  We saw a similar game in Minnesota two years ago, a Cal team with much more talent than their opponent controlling the game on the road but letting the lead slip away, before righting the ship to win in the end.  I honestly thought that game was a turning point for our program, which had underachieved in the previous years, but then we went on to get destroyed by Oregon and usc less than a month later.  We’re going to need to see a few more games before we can say with any certainty that this team is any "mentally tougher" or more resilient [insert other meaningless clichés here] than previous versions.


That said, it was an extremely entertaining game, and one that Cal should have won comfortably.  That late hit was one of the absolute worst calls I have ever seen, and it completely changed the complexion of the game.  Cal had taken Colorado’s punch, their long td drive to open the second half, and had responded with a touchdown drive of their own.  Cal’s defense had forced a second straight 3 and out, and with a 10 point lead and the ball returning to the bears, we were in prime position to take complete control of the game.  The penalty took away and third down stop and Colorado responded with two touchdowns in short order.  It’s not hard to envision Cal winning by 10-17 points in regulation without that penalty.

Some quick hitters, because RemorsefulEtc is waiting for me at the BART station:

-          I, along with the vast majority of fans in my section, disagreed strongly with the kneeling decision.  If it’s at home against a weaker team, that’s one thing.  But to choose to go to OT against a raucous crowd and a team with the momentum seemed extremely dangerous.  Why not keep 7 in to block, send Marv and Keenan out on go routes on opposite sides of the field with Miller underneath (more to tackle a potential interception returner than to catch a pass), and chuck it 50 yards?  If it’s a turnover, they have no timeouts remaining and about 20 seconds to work with.  Going to OT was playing with fire, in my opinion, and I liked our odds a lot better with 30 seconds and the ball at the end of regulation than with a 1st and 30 in OT.

-          Colorado fans were impressive.  Their stadium is not very big – it reminded me of Minnesota’s, with a ¾ bowl and bleachers at the open end zone – but they were quite loud.  They also responded to their players – when Cal would look to audible, especially on third down, one of their defenders would flap his arms and the noise would instantly go up 30 decibels.

-          Colorado’s stadium, along with most of the architecture in Boulder and on campus, was bland and unimpressive.  A lot of brown and tan bricks mixed together.  The breweries more than made up for it, but this is Boulder’s biggest drawback, to my eyes.

-          CJ had a huge hole on his TD run, but he also had to shuffle and slightly juke a potential tackler at the line before he hit it, and then break two tackles en route to the end zone.   It’s a fallacy to assume that Isi makes the same play, just as it’s a fallacy to assume that CJ would have picked up 29 on that sweep.  We have to judge the players on the plays they actually make, not ones that other players would have hypothetically made, and on this basis, CJ deserves some more carries.  Tedford says he’ll get them, and I’m sure we’ll see plenty of players in the rotation in the second half on Saturday.

-          Richardson is a legitimate NFL player.  He’s big and he’s pretty damn fast, as Marc Anthony found out.   He’s not as fluid as Keenan, nor does he have Keenan’s hands, but he’s probably bigger and faster and he’ll be playing in the league.  Colorado faced a 3rd and 5 on their last drive, and everyone in the stadium knew it was going to Richardson (the QB was staring him down before and during the play).  We had a safety over the top but Richardson still got separation against Anthony on a hitch and picked up the first down.

-          No sacks and turnovers is a major concern.  We’re going to struggle to win many games, starting with UW, if we don’t have more pressure on the QB.

-          Stevie Williams is a player.  I was surprised that Colorado didn’t loft it against him on 3rd and goal, seeing as he’s approximately 6 inches shorter than Richardson, but he broke up two huge passes at the end of the game.

For the California Golden Blogs, I’m CBKWit, reporting 2 days later, in Berkeley, CA.

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