SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 13: Steve Williams #1 of the California Golden Bears tackles Rhett Ellison #40 of the USC Trojans just short of the goal line at AT&T Park on October 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The first is pretty obvious, so let's move onto non-Big Games. Which victory would give you the most extra extra something compared to all the rest and why?
There seem to be three pretty obvious candidates: USC (eight straight years), Oregon (three time defending Pac-12 champs) and Washington (grrrrr). If you had to pick a game that comes close to Big Game levels, which team would would you want to knock off the most?
Our editorial team makes their decisions after the jump.
Berkelium97: The White Whale--USC. Since Aaron Rodgers left Cal, we have scored one first-half touchdown against USC. To beat the Trojans would be to exorcise all the demons that have plagued the Bears over the years. We struggle on the road, we rarely beat ranked teams, it has been years since we have pulled a major upset, and we have an eight-year losing streak to the Trojans. This win alone could buy Tedford another year before we start talking about the hot seat again.
Even if we finish at 7-5, which would disappoint many fans, we would have that signature victory to remember. As disappointing as the 2009 season was, the first thing I think of that season was that signature victory in the Big Game. To be able to replicate that against a top-three USC team would do wonders for the morale of Cal fans.
Kodiak: As much as I'd love for a revenge win against UW, let's go for the throat.
I want SC. More than any other win, I think an upset here would resonate with possible program-shaking implications. It would be street cred for Tedford. It would catch the attention of recruits. It would give confidence to our guys and possibly help shake the strange monkey off our back where it seems like we don't believe we can beat those guys.
It would be against an NFL 1st Rounder and senior QB in Barkley, not to mention 1st round talents in Robert Woods and Marquise Lee. This would be a triumph of coaching and our players' collective heart.
TwistNHook: I've gotta go with Ohio State. It could really get us some national exposure if we can pull off the win there. Additionally, it could be a real big momentum builder. Huge road win for this team. Beating USC would be great, no doubt about that. And beating UW will be sweet! But we won't have a bigger win than the one at Ohio State.
unclesam22: I think that the calls for SC are right. As good as beating Oregon and UDub would be, we've beaten them recently and have been competitive with them in most of the games we've played against them in recent years. With SC it's like there is a mental block and taking that out would really be a huge thing that could definitely generate some positive momentum for all the reasons outlined previously.
FrankCohen: Though USC and Oregon might be our more traditional rivals, I just have to go with Washington here, given the obvious recent reasons for bitterness and hatred towards the Huskies from our perspective. This game has the makings of an extremely epic one--Friday night under the lights of a renovated Memorial Stadium, televised on ESPN, and a very real, very intense thirst for revenge. I want To$h to cry himself to sleep on November 2.
HydroTech: I am pretty torn between Oregon and USC. I want to beat Oregon because they're so darn beatable. No doubt they're a good team, but we've shown we can stop their offense. We did it two years in a row. Everyone outside of Duck fans know that Oregon's dip in offensive production against Cal's defense isn't a fluke, but finally getting a win out of it would really hammer home the point that it's not a fluke. And I'm getting sick and tired of hearing about how great Oregon is. Beating them, shutting up their fan base, and getting the media to talk about how they lost would make my day.
On the other hand, I agree that USC is that big monkey on Cal's back. We haven't beaten them since 2003. Other teams, and worse teams than Cal, have beat USC. I don't know what it is about USC. It's like it's a huge mental block for our guys. We just don't perform as well as we normally do when playing them. I think our guys get so hyped up for the game, that they make the game a bigger deal than it really is, and their performance suffers as a result. It's just another game. Yes, USC is a good team. But they're so so so beatable. Seems like every other year we are right there neck and neck with USC, and then we shoot ourselves in the foot and give up the game. It's sort of crazy how cursed we are against them.
TwistNHook: It's surprising to me that nobody is saying Ohio State on this one. Did I misread the prompt or something? This is one of the biggest college football bluebloods and it is in their home stadium. A win would be huge!!!!
Kodiak: A win at tOSU would be completely acceptable to me. But when you look at 'sc vs. Ohio State, Ohio State is a blueblood that's lost its way of late. 'sc is supposed to compete for the national championship.
A win in either case would be a huge game-changer for the season. But whereas a win against tOSU would be a feather in our cap for this year, I think a win against 'sc has program-changing implications for this year and beyond.
unclesam22: To me, tOSU feels like Tennessee did. A win would be great, will give us national love, etc but it's a home and home and then we're done. SC is the continual itch that can't be scratched and I'd love to finally get it taken care of.
atomsareenough: I'm kind of torn, to be honest. The way the question is phrased, it's "which victory would give you the most" blah blah blah. Thinking about it that way, obviously, we all know a victory over USC likely would be epic in so many ways. It would be a win in LA, in the Coliseum, over a likely national championship contender. It would get the monkey of the last 8 years off our backs. We'd be walking on air for a month. I mean, honestly we don't even need to discuss what beating USC means. Everyone instinctively knows. It's huge. You can't really overstate it.
But let's think about the flipside. Which non-Big Game contest would we most hate to lose? Because to me, that one is EASILY Washington. Hell, I know a good percentage of us have half chalked up the USC game as a loss in our minds anyway. We've been losing to them in what feels like increasingly humiliating fashion over the past many years. Regardless of the sanctions, they keep hauling in ridiculous talent and we don't seem to be able to do anything about it. I absolutely do not in any way simply believe that's just the way of things, or "USC has our number" or anything like that, but for the time being it is what it is. If we beat them, like I said, it would be epic and fantastic and wonderful and all those superlatives. But if we lose? Meh, just another loss to USC. Sucks, but it's not like we haven't seen that movie already. Losing to Washington would be simply unacceptable though. We have to beat those fools. After the way they screwed with us, I want blood. I get the sense that the Huskies feel like they have leapfrogged us in the conference pecking order already, and they haven't done a damn thing yet. They absolutely need to be put in their place.... which is somewhere below us, I don't really care where.
Ohio State, yeah, it'd be great to win, but I'm not desperate to win in the same way I am against Washington and USC. Oregon, yeah, they're annoying and I feel like we can and should beat them if we play a sharp game, and it would be gratifying, but it doesn't have the emotional significance of beating the Trojans and Huskies. Both of those programs, well, we more than owe them one. Frankly we owe them each a humiliating, thorough dismantling, but I'll settle for simply beating them.
ragnarok: Man, I really really really really want to beat 'SC, but since I've already committed to attending the tOSU game, if I had to pick one win on the schedule to get, I'd have to take Ohio State. Yes, it's selfish on my part, but for my money, there's nothing like attending a big victory in someone else's house.
Cugel: Without any doubt or equivocation, Ohio State in their own home is who I want the Bears to beat, and not just because I'll be there. OSU may not be at their peak just right now, but they've just hired one of the best College football coaches of the past decade, and they are the one of the most storied and elite programs in all of College football. Beating them at the Horseshoe would be a signature win for both our program and for coach Tedford, and an indelible memory for all of the players on the team. A victory like this would be an announcement that Cal is back, and a huge boost of confidence for the team going into next weeks game, which no doubt many other posters have as their number one most wanted victory. Oh and bragging rights to the Pac-12 is just the icing on this cake.
solarise: Washington. Given our recent history and bad blood, the end of the season wins will mean even more as we fight for honor and bowl position. Our Cal Bears are on a 3 game losing streak. 2009's let-down after beating Furd in the previous week didn't mean much to me then, but 2010's close game after losing Kevin Riley to guarantee a losing season really hurt. 2011's version introducing Maynard to PAC-12 play cost me even more anguish and aggravation. I am confident with our best delivering payback against Tosh, Justin Wilcox, and Sark. Another defeat against the Huskies will feel indignant and incomplete.
LeonPowe: USC. In addition to everything everyone else has written . . . they're likely to be a top-5 team this year.
Vincent S: I'm going to take a different track, and bypass the question.
I want a victory in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Why? it means that we probably defeated Stanford, Oregon, and Washington to get there. Three huge wins, especially in a year where people are looking for signs of life for our program. The most likely team we'd meet in the championship game is USC, so that's every single team knocked out by a resurgent Cal team on its way to the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State would just be icing on the cake.
Berkelium97: I like the way Vincent thinks. If we run the table, win the Pac-12 Championship game, and somehow manage to tally victories against our Pac-12 foes who aren't even on the schedule, we'll be 15-0 heading into bowl season. If we win the bowl game we'll have piled up two seasons' worth of wins!
atomsareenough: Come on Vincent, if we're going to allow that, then I'm going to change my answer to "Victory in the Rose Bowl on January 1st 2013!" Who's with me, guys???
Vincent S: I'd also take a victory over Colorado or Arizona!
TwistNHook: I'm going with victory over Southern Utah!!
Kodiak: I want Presby at Presby. 105-0, or fire Tedford and Hydro.
TwistNHook: I'm already ready to fire Hydro!
The second victory I want the most next season is....
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