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Golden Nuggets: Justin Wilcox Speaks on His First Big Game Since 2005

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Jon Wilner brainstorms how to repair the Pac-12’s awful scheduling system.

California v Colorado
TFW when you ... I got nothing. Help me out in the comments.
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Football

From Ryan Gorcey: (there’s a lot more quotes in the link)

Have you had to get fired up from the players: "We're fired up every week ... I've been a part of it before, so recognize it's one of the greatest rivalry games in college football, so for the University, the alumni, the student body, it's a huge deal. Obviously, it is to us too, but we prepare like we do every other week, and we've got a ton of respect for Stanford, what they've done. They've been playing really good football for a long time. It'll be a really good challenge for us. We're going to have to prepare really well, and we're going to have to go out and play well. It's a good football team."

Have you ever seen any running back comparable to Bryce Love: "Oh, man, he's a really, really talented [running back]. That's a good question. I've been quite a few years in coaching college football, but he's an excellent back. He's got great balance and vision, patience, and his top-end speed is elite. You saw it again last week, and he's playing on a bit of a bum ankle, from all the reports. It sure doesn't look like it."

You've seen several good runners -- Phillip Lindsay, Ryan Nall, Khalil Tate -- in a row. Did they prepare you at all:"Everybody's unique, and in our conference, you're going to be challenged, week in and week out, opposing offenses and opposing defenses. Obviously got a ton of respect for them. Bryce Love is a big-time player. As good as probably any back in the country. I know our guys are going to be excited to play. We'll take all that information, and prepare as hard as we can, and get ready and go out and play a great game on Saturday."

(According to Trace Travers...) Find out why Darius Allensworth doesn’t think Bryce Love is the best running back he’s faced... (or you can click on the SF Chronicle article as well, I guess)

The recent history doesn’t bode well for Cal’s chances of slowing down Love, but this season’s team has shown signs of its lofty goal of changing the “paradigm.” The Bears have lost seven straight games to Stanford and leading for only five minutes, 35 seconds during the past five.

Within that five-game span, Cal has yielded Big Game rushing records (Christian McCaffrey, 284 rushing yards on 9.2 yards per carry in 2016) and Big Game scoring records (63 points allowed and 50-point margin in 2013).

But the Bears limited Tate, Lindsay and Nall, who have combined for 31 rushing touchdowns this season, to one rushing score among them during the past three weeks. That’s a small sample of what seems to be a season-long trend.

Last year, Cal finished among the nation’s bottom five in points allowed (42.6), total yards allowed (518.0) and rushing yards allowed (272.9) and dead last out of 128 teams in rushing yards allowed per carry (6.2).

This year, they’ve allowed 29.4 points per game, 431.9 total yards per game and 170.7 rushing yards per game. They’ve leaped half of the nation to get to No. 63, having allowed just 4.3 rushing yards per carry.

“You’ve got to do it over and over and over again,” said Wilcox, who has purposefully avoided watching video or studying the stats of last year’s historically bad defense since coming to Berkeley in January. “… We don’t really compare players or teams that way. It’s about: How good can we possibly be?”

  • Nam’s list of “Five Things” about the OSU win and the upcoming Big Game.
  • There’s been some odd schedule quirks that have affected the Pac-12 this year. Notably, all 3 Pac-12 Playoff contenders have suffered Friday road losses that ruined their chances. Cal of course benefited from that, but it could cost them when they have a Friday road game at UCLA. Let’s also not forget when our already bleak chances against U$C in 2016 was made worse when the Pac-12 had us going to LA on 6-days-rest while the Trojans had 12 days off. Jon Wilner makes a list of what the Pac-12 can do to improve the scheduling formulas to benefit the conference.

The Pac-12 needs an oversight committee to look out for the teams — to avoid competitive disadvantages:

* No more Friday road games that follow Saturday road games.

* No more sending teams on the road to face opponents that have an extra week to prepare.

* Limit the number of night road games to the best extent allowed by the contracts with ESPN and Fox.

(If there is no room to maneuver — the networks paid for the night windows and are entitled to their money’s worth — then make a trade:

(Offer ESPN and Fox another six-day selection option in exchange for a per-team cap on night road games.

(The six-day options are unpopular with fans and therefore suboptimal for business, but the night road games are bad for … wait for it … the players.)

The competition committee would examine every schedule, identify problem spots, and find solutions before, for example, Cal gets asked to play a short-week road game against a team coming off a bye (2016) … or Washington State is asked to play three night road games in a four-week span (2016) … or USC is forced to play 12 in a row with a Saturday-road/Friday-road double-whammy (2017).

  • If you have an Athletic subscription, you can check out Chantel Jennings’ interview with Justin Wilcox. (See tweet for link)

Does Anyone Think Cal Will Go Bowling?

This was as depressing as I thought it would be.

Sports Illustrated’s Eric Single: Texas Bowl (in Houston) vs. Texas

ESPN’s David Hale and Kyle Bonagura: No Bowl

SB Nation’s Jason Kirk: No Bowl

East Bay Times’ Jon Wilner: No Bowl.

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm: No Bowl

Yahoo’s Nick Bromberg: No Bowl

Men’s Basketball

On the team getting the ball to Marcus Lee and Kingsley Okoroh:

"We just emphasized it. We had a day to prep, watched film and talked about it. I had individual meetings with some of the guards and said we need to do a better job of getting those guys the ball. You get those guys the ball and now they're going to rebound a little bit better and now they're going to do a better job on the defensive end. It just makes those guys feel better to know they can get touches and it's just better for everybody."

On Don Coleman's performance today vs. Friday:

"Unbelievable. He played with a better pace tonight and he didn't look out of control. He still ended up with his 30. He played an unbelievable game tonight and was very good for us. His teammates see it and we see it. Hopefully he continues to play that way."

On implementing Justice Sueing into the starting lineup:

In that second line of the press, Justice is very good. He has a great feel for the game and he gave a little more of a defensive presence. He's a bigger body down there on the back of the zone. He gives us some rebounding and size at that position."

Misc.

All hail blue and gold!