On September 8, Cal football will play its second game of the 2012 season and, for the second week in a row, will host an opponent at the new and improved Memorial Stadium. The opponent will be the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, a Division I-FCS team that will be playing its first season in the Big Sky Conference in 2012.
The game against Southern Utah will mark the sixth time in the last eight years that Cal will play an FCS opponent. In the first five of those games, Cal has gone 5-0, outscoring their FCS opponents 257-41 (average score of 51-8, if you want the math, with the "closest" of the games a 42-16 win over Portland State in 2006). Will Southern Utah be the latest in a series of FCS teams that the Bears will steamroll?
One thing appears to be certain: Southern Utah is no Presbyterian (last year's FCS victim on Cal's schedule). The Thunderbirds feature a BYU transfer at quarterback in Brad Sorensen, who was last year's Great West Player of the Year. When this season is done, Sorensen will likely walk away with every major passing record in the program's history. So don't expect to see ineptitude on offense from these guys.
So what do your CGB writers and mods think of the clash of T-Birds and Bears?
Kodiak: If we don't beat them 105-0, FIRE HYDROTECH!
(Wow, this just got real. Read more thoughts after the jump.)
LeonPowe: I don't know what this roundtable is about but BOOO OHIO BEAR!
Ohio Bear: BOO Me? But I think we'll win this game!
solarise: The question is only by how much. BOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Berkelium97: Boooo-urns! Boooo-urns!
Kodiak: For your daily dose of DOOOOOOM, Southern Utah has a senior QB(BYU transfer) who is the projected Big Sky offensive player of the year. He holds just about every meaningful QB-related record for the Southern Utes.
On the other hand, it's SU's first season in the Big Sky. They lost a lot of talent on both sides from last year. This is a game where our lines should dominate. They have a dangerous QB, but we should be able to stop the run, make them one-dimensional, and force him to run for his life all day.
atomsareenough: I'll come out and say it: Guaranteed victory. I welcome your hatred!
Look, I don't want to sound like an ass, and all due respect to the Thunderbirds, I'm sure they're a fine school and probably a good group of guys, but we have no business losing to them. Sure, there's always the off chance that they could Appalachian State-us, but that's an all-time kind of upset for a reason. Furthermore, Southern Utah went 6-5 in the Great West conference last year, so it exactly doesn't seem like they're the class of the FCS like Appy State were, either.
So, best of luck to them the rest of the season, but losing this game would be a firing offense for Tedford. Having it even be competitive would be a bad, bad sign. I frankly hate these kinds of games, and frankly I think they shouldn't really exist in the first place. At least we're not scheduling multiple patsies like the SEC, but even one is bad enough. I hate schedule padding, and it's not even worth the resources to even put on such non-competitive games that don't even tell you anything and aren't even enjoyable to watch. So, I hope Southern Utah and their fans enjoy a nice trip to the Bay Area. They come from some really pretty country over there. You should check out Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks if you're out there, it's some of the most beautiful scenery you'll ever see. Utah is one of my top 5 states for natural beauty. Maybe if you go, stop by and see a Southern Utah game against a realistic opponent on a level playing field. I'm sure it'd be fun. This game, however, is a big fat waste of time.
unclesam22: I think that atoms brings up a good point that may another topic for another time, but why even play these teams? Zero upside and tons of down side. Even if you win 105-0 everyone says so what, it was tiny little directional school anyway. I'd like to see more Fresno State types on the schedule, ie., teams that are good and have some name recognition but still provide the opportunity for a victory and fit into Tedford's scheduling matrix, which if I recall correctly is something like 1 really hard team, 1 average team, 1 not good team.
As far as Southern Utah is concerned, I'd like to see it be less of a stat-padding game and more of a chance for some of the less experienced guys to get good game reps. I think we're all a little concerned about depth in some positions like CB and DL and OL, so why not run some of those guys out there after halftime or a 21 point lead and let them get that experience?
Vincent S: Zach Kline will lead us to victory!
solarise: Agreed with both Vincent S and unclesam22. Southern Utah is a peek into our imminent future without KA21, Maynard, Isi, and CJ. Kline, Treggs, and BB should get plenty of action in the 2nd half!
Berkelium97: Do you guys actually want to see Kline take the field? We would be burning his redshirt so he can play some garbage time minutes against the Thunderbirds. Other than this game, he might see the field in one or two other games well after the contest is decided (hopefully in our favor). I am not convinced that this limited experience is worth giving up an extra year with the program.
Kodiak: Actually, I'd prefer to see Bridgford demonstrate poise and command of the offense. Maynard is still built like a yard marker. One misstep on a zone-read and the whole season could get de-railed if the backup isn't good to go.
I'd really, really like Tedford to break from convention and let Bridgford run the full offense instead of just handing off. Sorry, Southern Ute-ites.
atomsareenough: Why not just have Bridgford start and play the whole game? Or would that be massively disrespectful to the Thunderbirds?
HydroTech: I think having Bridgford start and play the whole game would be pretty disrespectful to Maynard. Assuming Maynard wins the starting job for 2012, he should start the game, and play the game until we're up by 28 at the end of the first quarter.
Hopefully, by the time we're up by 100 points at the end of the 3rd quarter, we can then put the 3rd string QB in. Whether that QB is Kline or not, I don't know.
As was said by atomsareenough, Cal has no business losing this game. It shouldn't be close. It should be at the very least, a 50 point win, with Cal taking its foot off the gas by the middle of the 3rd quarter. Our 2nd and 3rd string players should get plenty of playing time in this game.
Considering that Cal doesn't have a "bye" week in 2012, this is probably the closest thing that our team will get to a break. I'll take the (hopefully) easy "W".
Kodiak: There's no way Tedford would sit his starters.
I don't think our team has demonstrated the consistency needed to execute with dominance on both sides. Ideally, Maynard is so bad-*ss during the 1st half that Bridge can play the entire 2nd.
atomsareenough: I don't really see the "disrespectful to Maynard" angle, unless you mean we'd be depriving him of a great chance to pad his stats, which I suppose could be disappointing for him. We should be able to win this game with any QB on the roster, and I don't think it's an insult to say, "Hey, we need to keep you fresh and healthy for our tougher opponents, so let's let some of the other guys get some reps."
The Southern Utah THUNDERBIRDS? I can't be the only one who thought of these guys, am I?
unclesam22: I agree that Maynard should at least start the game since he is the starter and I think it would be disrespectful to both Maynard and Southern Utah. But I definitely would love to see Bridgeford get in the game and get some meaningful work, especially with some of the more inexperienced WRs getting a chance to play a lot.
Berkelium97: Score predictions?
Vincent S: Realistically? 48-14.
Ohio Bear: Southern Utah beat a FBS school last year (okay, it was UNLV, but still) and played a traditional FCS power (Northern Iowa) tough on the road before losing. SUU was ranked in FCS for a couple of weeks. I'm not sure how much they have coming back from last year team, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say they're a considerable step up from Presbyterian as far as FCS opponents go.
Cal still wins big, though. Bears 49, Thunderbirds 10.
Frank Cohen: 52-13.
Berkelium97: Cal 59, Utah Southern [sic] 10.
unclesam22: Cal 55, Southern Utah 14
So what do you think, CGB readers? Will Southern Utah's Thunderbirds put on a fabulous fight? Or will Cal take care of business, Presbyterian style? Share your thoughts in the comments.