When I attend the Cal v. Oregon game this weekend, I will be 100% rooting for the California Golden Bears. I will hope against hope for a Cal victory. For many years, the Cal-Oregon games were some of the most interesting, most unique games of the year. 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, all those games were unique in their own special way. Since 2009, however, they have mostly been one sided. Besides the memorable 2010 loss to Oregon (aka our best "win" of the last few years), Oregon has seemed to have the advantage.
And rah rah rah rah give me a C Roll On You Bears, but does anybody genuinely think that is going to change tomorrow? I really hope it does, but after watching Oregon-USC last week, when it comes to Cal-Oregon, I've moved from "Let's beat the Ducks!" to "I'm kinda intrigued now to see this Oregon offense in action." This seems to be one of the best offenses in college football history. They are currently 2nd overall in the nation in rushing yards and first (!!!) overall in the nation in points scored. Their lowest point total is 42! They are averaging 54.3 points per game! They've basically shut their offense down in many 2nd halves. They dropped 70 on Colorado, but easily could have scored more. The story is the same for many of their games. Get up big on opposition by half and then take a 30 minute long Victory Formation. And they've beaten 3 ranked teams, so it is not like they've beaten nobody.
Kenjon Barner seems to be the latest RoboDuck to come out of the Chip Kelly System Offense assembly line. Those Ducks like to say that their offensive skill players are special players (and they are obviously extremely talented). But when LaGarrette Blount begets LaMichael James begets Kenjon Barner begets De'Anthony Thomas and Jeremiah Masoli begets Darron Thomas begets Marcus Mariota, you start to see a pattern. Players like Dennis Dixon and Jeremiah Johnson seem to barely register anymore. Each year they have a new set of amazing once in a lifetime players in their explosive offense. Yet, somehow, someway, this one seems to be even better than ever. They put up 62 on a USC team where Cal scored 9. Barner rushed for over 300 yards and Oregon had over 700 yards of offense total! Cal only 250 yards against USC in that game total.
What is so insane about it is that this offense seems to make it look easy. They do a basic zone read that limits the various options. It is not some sort of crazy, insane gimmick-y offense or even a complex pro-style offense. It is like all those fancy shmancy restaurants that solely do a few things, but do them right. Oregon executes like it's Robespierre during the Reign Of Terror. Watch the USC highlights. The blocking there is absurd (even accounting for the myriad un-called holding penalties). Half of those runs, I probably could have done (Disclaimer: I could have, in no way, done any of those runs). Barner is barely even touched!
Their conditioning is such that they can just keep pushing the tempo until the defense can't keep up. Then, this opens up the downfield passing game, because defenses a)can't keep up with the speedy receivers and b)they have to respect the run so much. Throw in the fact that Kelly will go for it if it is like 4th and 35 and the offense is nigh unstoppable!
This could be one of those offenses you tell your grandchildren about. Remember, college football fans are the original hipsters. We see everything before it goes mainstream! And we love to crow about it.
"Oh, Houston, you love Arian Foster? Well, we knew about him back in 2007 before he sold out. I don't mean that in a pejorative sense, going to the NFL is literally selling out. You can't get more selling out than that. That is max selling out."
"Really, Green Bay, you finally fell in love with Aaron Rodgers? 2003 called, they said you suck. Also, they want their Nokia 3100 back."
"Oh, you bought that DeSean Jackson Eagles jersey? That's soooo 2005. I had his jersey back then. Or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof with absolutely, positively no defining characteristics to make it specific to DeSean Jackson as compared to any other player with #1 wink wink nudge nudge. No, he didn't make a dime off of it."
Ostensibly, high school football fans would be the even MORE original hipsters, but that's just creepy. So, for college football fans, the opportunity to see these amazingly talented players before they all flame out in the NFL (not every school can put 32 players into the NFL) is an intriguing one. Even if they flatten your team in the process. So, I can tell my grandkids
"I saw Kenjon Barner rush for 4,000 yards in a single game!"
"I saw Kenjon Barner rush for 200 yards in a single carry, he just kept running around and around and around and around."
"Several decades later, Kenjon Barner is STILL rushing around!"
I remember the last time Cal had such an amazing team come to town. It was 2005 and the "Greatest College Football Team In History" (TM ESPN) aka USC came to Memorial. Despite that 2005 team being really talented (including having Marshawn AND DeSean), USC destroyed Cal at home. We were all Ayoob'd! At that time, I remember think that it was fairly cool to see Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart in person. To see a #1 team in person. This Oregon team is only the #3 team (although I think it should be #2). Yet, it still seems to have the same level of gravitas that that USC team did.
So, I must apologize to all the Cal fans that I may not be as anti-Oregon as is demanded of a California Golden Bear. Or must I? I suspect strongly that there are other secretly (or not so secretly) intrigued to see this explosive offense. Frankly, I suspect there are Cal football players in that boat, too. Not only do they want to challenge themselves against this team, but they are students of their craft. To see the highest level execution of their craft must have some level of interest, even if they want to shut it down or out duel it.
While I hope more than nothing that we have a repeat of the 2010 barnburner, I am much more realistic. And if Oregon is going to obliterate Cal (which seems sadly likely), perhaps my grandchildren can at least get a few good stories out of it.
So, how many Hail Beastmodes do I have to give??????