So, this hasn't quite gone as planned. After three exciting offensive performances, Cal has slumped over the last three weeks, averaging about 13 points per game. The result is that it makes this column look a bit silly, as if we're extolling the virtues of an offense that struggles to put up points.
Of course, when we initially conceived of this series, it wasn't with the expectation that Cal would be challenging to set a program record for points scored against their rivals every week. With such a young team, such a radical shift in offensive philosophy, and such a big hole to climb out of, with didn't expect many (any?) records to fall. This column was an excuse to remember great Cal teams and games from the past, and wonder if Sonny Dykes might eventually break some records once he got the Bear Raid humming.
And that's where we reach this week's edition: Remembering a team very much worth keeping in the forefront of your mind.
If there's one Cal team from the past that I most regret not seeing in action, it's definitely the 1975 Bears. They weren't the best Cal team of all time - various outfits under Andy Smith and Pappy Waldorf would likely take precedent - but they might have been the best Cal team that would be recognizable in the context of modern football. And man, what an offense.
Joe Roth, Chuck Muncie, and Wesley Walker were the original Pawlawski/White/Dawkins, who were the original Rodgers/Arrington/McArthur (or, if you prefer, Rodgers/Lynch/McArthur). It's not really the point of this article, but I'd be interested to hear your arguments for which group is the greatest QB/RB/WR combo Cal history. Two future NFL pro bowlers and a projected 1st round quarterback. Wow.
Anyway, one of the many highlights of the 1975 season was a 51-24 destruction of the Beavers at Memorial Stadium that still stands as Cal's record for points scored against OSU. To be fair, nobody would recognize the '75 Beavers as a noteworthy victory, as the team was in year 5 of what turned out to be a 28 year run of sub-.500 records. The 1-10 mark in '75 would result in the firing of head coach Dee Andros, but it would only be the first of nine seasons with one or fewer wins in that stretch. Yikes.
I wasn't able to dig up much about the game, being that it was a good team blowing out a very bad one, but Chuck Muncie did run for three touchdowns and throw for a fourth, a dominating performance by the best collegiate player of the year (the writer added, with an obvious touch of bitterness). It was actually a somewhat uncharacteristic game for the Beavers, who had a not-horrible defense but scored 12 points or fewer nine times in eleven games.
So yeah, this game is part of a running theme - points records take a potent cocktail of Cal talent and opponent ineptitude within a singular game. That was certainly the case on October 18th, 1975
Can the Bear Raid break the record?
Maybe not this year, but it feels possible. Oregon State tends to have a boom-and-bust thing going on under Mike Riley, as it's tough for him to consistently restock talent year-in, year-out in Corvallis. And Cal has had some big offensive games against Riley's Beavers. If a particularly potent version of the Bear Raid gets going, and the Beavers are starved for talent . . . I feel like this one is more feasible than most.
But this year? Probably not. Not because Oregon State's defense is great shakes - the Beavers are 91st in the country in yards/play allowed - but because Cal's offense is beat up and Cal's defense isn't likely to get the offense the ball back especially quickly. And until Cal solves their red zone woes, talk of running up a bunch of points is pretty premature.
Still, 51 points? That's on the lower side for most of Cal's Pac-12 rivals. I think Sonny could take this one on in a few years. Please let it happen, cruel Football Gods.