Allow me to step into the confessional for a moment. Bless me, Oski, for I have sinned.
I have come to loathe the weekly "Bear Raid Record Breaking" series. Loathe it. Actually, it's not that much of a stretch to say that I've come to hate it. With a passion. Some might say with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
You see, this series was designed to be one in which we looked back at Cal's highest scoring games ever against the week's upcoming opponent. After taking that look back at history, we then predict whether Cal's Bear Raid would surpass the number. The underlying premise of the "Bear Raid Record Breaking" series was the expectation that Coach Sonny Dykes' Bear Raid offense would be a scoring machine.
Let's face it: maybe it was bad juju to even try and do this, but the Bear Raid Record Breaking series has not been all that fun because the underlying premise has not proven true. With Cal 1-8 on the season and the offense not exactly a point machine (though often adept at racking up yardage), the series has not turned out the way I had hoped. But one positive of the series is that it has given us a chance to look back at some enjoyable games in Cal football history. This week's installment of Bear Raid Record Breaking gives us a chance to look back at one of the most enjoyable games ever for any Cal fan who was fortunate enough to be there.
In 1991, Cal enjoyed one of its greatest seasons in the last 50 years. Under head coach Bruce Snyder, the Bears went 10-2, won a New Year's Day bowl game for the first time since the 1938 Rose Bowl, and finished in the top 10 in the national rankings. Of Cal's 10 wins in that magical season, none was more memorable than the 52-30 whipping the Bears laid on USC on a sunny November 2, 1991 afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Cal fans had a little fun with "Tribute to Troy" that day.
Cal came into the game with a 6-1 record while USC had a 3-4 record and was in the middle of what would be a season-ending six-game losing streak. Cal pounced on the Trojans from the very beginning, as Russell White returned the opening kickoff 66 yards. The Bears eventually jumped to a 22-7 lead in the first quarter, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive offensive series. Cal even supplemented its high-powered offensive attack with trickery, converting a two-point conversion on a fake extra point and executing to perfection the old "Fumblerooskie" play with offensive guard Eric Mahlum rumbling 19 yards to set up Cal's third touchdown. (With Sugar Bowl representatives in attendance to scout the Bears, Coach Snyder had dubbed the play "Sugarooskie" before the game.)
Behind an explosive rushing performance from White (who ran for 231 yards on 23 carries), Cal built a 35-7 halftime lead. The Bears stretched the lead to 49-14 by the end of the third quarter on a pair of Mike Pawlawski touchdown passes to wide receiver Sean Dawkins. And when kicker Doug Brien added a field goal with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter to make it 52-14, Cal had managed to score not only the most points it had ever scored against USC, but also scored what was at the time the most points the Trojans had given up in their football program's history.
For a Cal football program that had been battered and bruised by USC through the years, that 1991 November day was a glorious role reversal. The next day's headline in the San Francisco Examiner sports section summed it up nicely:
"BIG BAD CAL MUGS POOR USC."
Watch for the
Fumblerooski Sugarooskie at 0:40
Can the Bear Raid beat this record?
I'll cut to the chase: no, the Bears won't beat the record on Saturday. The Bears have not scored more than 37 points in any game this season and have not even scored 30 in a game since beating Portland State on September 7. Recent history works against the Bears, too: Cal has not scored more than 17 points against USC since 2003 and has not scored a meaningful touchdown in a game against the Trojans since 2007. To think the Bears can score anything close to 52 against USC on Saturday is sunshine pumping to the nth degree.
At least we have 1991. Enjoy the memory.