Our long, national nightmare is over. College football returns in all its glory at 5pm PDT today. Do I care about Wisconsin or UNLV? Nope. Will I watch anyway? You better believe it! If you need your college football fix today, use this as your open thread.
As is the custom on Thursdays, everybody and their mothers make picks for the weekend's games. Since the Cal-Fresno State matchup is relatively low-profile, we only have a couple predictions.
Ted Miller is pumping the Pac-12 sunshine, as he predicts every team (except Oregon) will win this weekend.
California 28, Fresno State 24: QB Zach Maynard will be solid in his Cal debut and the defense will keep the Bulldogs in check.
Jon Wilner enthusiastically picks Fresno State to cover the spread, but selects Cal as the winner.
FRESNO STATE (plus-11.5) vs. CAL (Candlestick Park): Combine tens of thousands of FSU fans with expected first-game jitters for Cal QB Zach Maynard … and the Bears could be in trouble. Big trouble. As in: losing outright trouble. Pick: Fresno State.
Straight-up winners: USC, Stanford, Cal, Houston, Oregon and Hawaii.
Five-star special: Fresno State. It’s not the setting or the expected pro-FSU crowd or Maynard’s first game — it’s all of that, and more. Feels like it’s going to be a real struggle for the Bears.
After the jump Isi Sofele chats with the fans, JO talks with a Fresno State beat writer, and Tedford talks about fan expectations and last year's disappointing finish.
- Isi Sofele participated in a livechat with JO yesterday. He's spent plenty of time improving his pass protection over the summer. He mentioned he does not dance around the hole as much as he used to; instead he powers through and tries to run north and south. The weight he put on from Blasquez's training regimen ought to help with that. He has friends on Utah and USC and is especially motivated to beat those schools this year. And finally, for the ladies: Sofele is "single and ready to mingle"!
- JO has an informative Q+A with a Fresno State beat writer. He provides some details on the Bulldogs' tenacity when facing BCS teams and strengths/weaknesses of this year's team.
- Wilner's projections have the Bears finishing fourth in the Pac-12 North.
- Good news from Wednesday's practice: most players out with minor injuries have returned to full capacity, including Aaron Tipoti and Kaelin Clay.
- CJ Anderson will play as short-yardage back on third downs and goal-line situations. Tedford emphasized his strength and low-to-the-ground running style.
- Though talented, Michael Calvin has not made much of an impact due to a variety of injuries. He hopes this season that he will finally have that breakout year we have all been waiting to see.
- Tedford talks about fans' expectations, last year's disappointing result, and opening the season against his alma mater at Tuesday's press conference.
- Correy Johnson was named the Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week following her solid performances at the Cal Molten Classic.