Cal fans, this is the day you've been waiting for. Or is it the day you've been dreading? I keep getting those things mixed up.
It is gameday. And it is not just any game: it is Cal at Oregon at the decibel-rich eardrum killer known as Autzen Stadium. It's in prime time, nationally televised on ESPN, with Craig James in the booth providing his meaningful analysis. (Note to self: turn volume down.) And if you haven't noticed, this is not a Saturday. No sirree, Bob -- this is a Thursday night affair, Cal's first such ESPN appearance since the 2003 season (a 31-24 loss at Utah, which we're not going to talk about today).
How special an occasion is tonight's game? Special enough for 9th-ranked Oregon to break out special retro-inspired "Fighting Ducks" unis and Darth Vader helmets. Special enough for Cal to (reportedly) debut white helmets. Special enough for the venerable EDSBS blog to do a Factor Five Five Factor Preview of tonight's titanic tilt. And special enough for our friends at Addicted To Quack to extend an olive branch to us here at California Golden Blogs, as we bury the hatchet for last year's Fake Injurygate in Oregon's hard-fought 15-13 win over Cal at Memorial Stadium.
(There is no truth to the rumor that Aaron Tipoti pulled a hammy while I typed that last paragraph.)
2011 CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL
Thursday, Oct. 6, 6:00 p.m. (PT)
Cal (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) at Oregon (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12)
Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR
TV: ESPN/ESPN 3D - Rece Davis (Play-by-Play), Craig James (Analyst), Jesse Palmer (Analyst), Jenn Brown (Sideline Analyst)
Cal Commercial Radio: KGO 810 AM (San Francisco) - Joe Starkey (Play-By-Play), Troy Taylor (Analyst, Pregame Show), Todd McKim (Pregame Show, Sideline), Lee Grosscup (Postgame Show), Kate Scott (Postgame Show) Postgame at the Paragon, Claremont Hotel Club & Spa, 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, CA
IMG College/Cal Radio Network Affiliates: KFPT 790 AM (Fresno), KESP 970 AM (Modesto), KPRZ 1210 AM (San Diego), KMZT 1260 AM (Los Angeles), KTKZ 1380 AM (Sacramento), KFIG 1430 AM (Fresno).
All-Access Radio: The Cal commercial radio broadcast feed of the game can be heard on the Internet thorugh the All-Access channel on CalBears.com. All-Access can be found under the Multimedia tab at the top of the page.
Cal Student Radio: KALX 90.7 FM (Berkeley) - KALX 90.7 FM (Berkeley) - Danny Freisinger (Play-By-Play), Elliott Schwimmer (Analyst)
Sirius XM Satellite Radio: The commercial radio broadcasts of both teams for the Cal-Oregon game can be heard on Sirius XM satellite radio. The Sirius and XM channels for the Cal feed are both 85. The Sirius and XM channels for the Oregon feed are both 91.
National Radio: Sports USA Radio Network, sportsusaradio.com - Dan Fouts (Play by-Play), John Robinson (Analyst)
CalBears.com: Visit CalBears.com for complete coverage of Cal football, including a live play-by-play update via Gametracker.
Cal enters this game 3-1 (0-1 Pac-12) on the season and comes off a bitter 31-23 loss at Washington 12 days ago. Oregon also played its last game 12 days ago, but had a slightly better time of it than the Bears. The Ducks (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) lambasted Arizona 56-31 in Tucson in a game that was not really as close as the score would suggest.
SERIES FACTSGames Played: 73
Series Record: Cal leads series, 39-32-2
First Meeting: 11/18/1899, at Cal 12, Oregon 0
Last Meeting:11/13/10, Oregon 15, at Cal 13
Current Streak: Oregon win 2
Tedford vs. Oregon: 4-4
So what can we expect to see from the Quackers up north?
Cal's most optimistic matchup tonight, generally speaking, is the Bears' offense against the Ducks' defense.
On the surface, the #'s are a big drop in defensive production from where they've been the past two years. I'm not overly fond of statistics anyways, but this is really a case where the numbers don't tell the whole story. For instance, Oregon gave up 681 total yard to Missouri State, (416 rushing, 265 passing) but only seven points. Similarly, they held Arizona down 36-9 while the game was still in doubt, and gave up most of Nick Foles 415 passing yards during garbage time. Perhaps a more accurate indicator is to look solely at the LSU game where they held the Tigers to a respectable 240 passing yards and 95 on the ground. Considering how quickly and often the Duck offense scores, some defensive stats will be misleading due to the number of extra snaps that their defense has to play.
The strength of the team is a deep and athletic secondary. Even without suspended corner Cliff Harris, there is plenty of experience in this group. Safety John Boyett is their leading ball-hawk, and Rover Eddie Pleasant is their version of Thomas DeCoud. New starting MLB Dewitt Stuckey is a bit undersized, but has a really shown a nose for the ball.
When Oregon has the ball -- well, that's where it gets dicey for Cal fans. Notwithstanding last year's improbable Cal defensive performance, in which the high-powered Ducks' offense managed just one offensive touchdown, there is little expectation that the Bears will be able to slow down Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and company.
ManBearCal previewed the Oregon offense earlier today and gave us his take on tonight's matchup between the Ducks O and Bears D.
I'm skeered! After last year, I can't totally rule out the possibility of an upset, but the four guys who made our defense so effective last year (Conte, Mohamed, Jordan and Hill) are gone. That's essentially our top performer at each level of the defense, not to mention guys that all had HUGE games against the Ducks last year at Memorial. We've replaced them with some nice pieces, but this offense is one that requires discipline and savvy. Haven't seen a ton of that from this defense on a consistent basis yet. I'm encouraged that we've had extra time to prepare, but this is still a road game against a very prolific offense. On a Thursday night. On national television. And pardon me if i just can't quite shake the memory of 2009 at Autzen *bangs head on desk*.
As we learned from Kodiak, our offense could have some success against the Oregon defense if we can sustain drives and Maynard can consistently make the throws that have, at times, been so erratic to this point in the season. The Duck defense lost some key guys there. Important to remember that even a mediocre offense could have helped us clinch the upset last year.
BUT...we won't win a shootout with the Ducks. And that is what we would have to do, because I don't see the Cal defense of this season being able to contain Oregon's offense. We're not there yet. Not enough experience. If we keep it respectable...well, I'll still be pissed off. But slightly less pissed than if we get killed. We won't slow them down enough in Autzen. Prediction: 28-42 DUCKS.
Thursday night. ESPN. Autzen Stadium. Will it be one of the hard fought classic meetings these teams have had during Jeff Tedford's tenure (e.g., 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010)? Or will it like one of the occasional runaways (e.g., 2006, 2009)? Or will it be boring and non descript with lots of rain (e.g. 2008)? Or will the lights go out at Autzen a la 2003? We shall see.
This is your pregame thread. Use it to let out your pregame tensions until your heart's content. Watch for the link to the first quarter thread and go from there. GO BEARS!
Can Cal pull off another improbable happy ending at Autzen Stadium?
Bears and Ducks. Ducks and Bears. How are YOU feeling?
This poll is closed
Excited! Go Bears!
Nervous. Go Bears.
Ouch! My calf! My calf!