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Golden Nuggets: Avoiding the Ranking Distraction; Very Few Pick Cal to Win

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Basketball articles about Paris Austin, Mi’Cole Cayton and MacKenzie Forbes.

Idaho State v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Blame Dreamforce for my absence Tuesday and my forgetting to vote in the Power Rankings...

Football

Cal is one of 21 remaining unbeaten FBS teams and a victory in Saturday night’s game against No. 19 Oregon (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) would go a long way toward securing the school’s first AP postseason ranking since the 2006 squad went 10-3 and finished No. 14.

Most of the Bears’ players were in elementary school back then. In fact, only about a quarter of the team was on the ranked squad three years ago, but the players feel like they’re ready for the intensified spotlight.

“We’re focused,” senior inside linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk said. “We’re ready to take that next step, play a really good team and show ourselves that we’re ready for that jump. We’re ready to become the team we know we can be.”

Kunaszyk has two interceptions in two games against Oregon, including one that sealed Cal’s 52-49 double-overtime victory in 2016. That was the Bears’ only win over Oregon in the past nine meetings.

  • Despite the loss to Stanford this could still be a trap game for Oregon.
  • After losing Goode for the year, it’s hard to feel sorry for the Ducks. However, they have some big names that could be out this weekend...
  • Were you around for that epic 30 point comeback the Bears had against Oregon in 1993? I was only 6, and not a Cal fan at the time, so I can only imagine what it was like to be there.
  • How did the team spend the bye week? By watching college football of course.

Head coach Justin Wilcox made sure to catch Saturday’s Oregon-Stanford game — with the sound down. What he’s looking for in the game isn’t always what the commentators are always talking about, so it can get distracting listening to them. And while the camera, which follows the ball, is nice for viewers at home, it’s not exactly what a coach is looking for. While watching the game live gave Wilcox a sense of both teams’ pace and personnel and formations, it didn’t show the full field and what all 22 players were doing on it.

“You’re kind of looking at (the broadcast) like a coach. It’s hard not to do that after you’ve done it for a while,” Wilcox said. “You’re always watching the play like, ‘OK, what was the play design on offense? What was the structure on defense — was it even spacing, odd spacing, post-safety split?’”

  • Despite the great run defense of Oregon, Patrick Laird thinks he can have a great game against them. College Sports Maven (earlier link) and SF Chronicle (next link) wrote about his presser from earlier in the week.
  • The defensive line for Oregon is very big. Beau Baldwin says it will be a tough task to keep them in check but it is the key to victory.
  • Nam Le’s Five Things that Cal can do to beat Oregon list is up.
  • Trace Travers analyzes the depth chart for the Oregon game. Noa will return Saturday, which is the most notable thing.
  • Learn more about Tevin Paul from Cal Sports Maven.
  • Jon Wilner picks Cal as 4th in his Power Rankings, only one spot below ours!
  • Joe Starkey will be calling his 500th Cal Football game this Saturday. Both CalBears.com (see earlier link) and The Daily Cal (next link) have writeups about this milestone.
  • Picks! Cal Sports Maven is split with Jake Curtis picking Oregon and Jeff Faraudo picking Cal. Jon Wilner picked Cal. Athlon Sports has Oregon winning. S&P projects a 3 point Cal loss. Alarmingly, in Yahoo’s College Pick-Em, 85% of players picked Oregon -3.
  • Jon Wilner has the Bears in the Sun Bowl. Also, did you know the San Francisco (Foster Farms) Bowl is now the Redbox Bowl?

Basketball

  • Paris Austin is back home and looks to revive the struggling Cal program.

“The main thing coming out of Oakland is that you have to be tough,” Austin says. “Oakland is not an easy place to live in, with all the violence and crime going on. Oakland is something that really builds character and builds people and builds a toughness.”

Basketball served as the medium through which Austin could display that toughness. As someone who fell in love with basketball at an early age, Austin found the court to be a place where he could “block out the noise.”

“When other people were out, doing stuff or getting into trouble, I didn’t have time for to do that,” Austin says. “I was always focused on basketball or I was going to play at a park. Before it was something serious, it was something I loved to do.”

Alongside childhood friend Ivan Rabb at Bishop O’Dowd High School, Austin clawed and scratched his way into becoming one of the most promising young guards in the country.

Misc.

  • Takeshi Okada of Track and Field had to overcome significant language barriers to get to where he is, but now he’s in his senior year and doing very well at Cal.
  • The Daily Cal has an extended preview of the 2018-19 women’s tennis team.
  • Congrats to Missy Franklin on her engagement with Texas alum Hayes Johnson!

Beat the Ducks!