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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Just Like Cal to Disappoint Early in Season

Anyone who is a fan of Cal football can tell you what a painful experience it is. Marred with inconsistency, the Golden Bears can get up for a game and blast an opponent by 50 points one week, and then come back and lose to an inferior opponent by 20 the next week. This season has already started out for the Bears much like their others: disappointingly.

Cal blasted UC Davis in their opener 52-3. Sure it was just UC Davis, but beating a low-level team like that is exactly what you’re supposed to do. The following week, Cal surprised me by smashing Colorado 52-7. The loss was so shocking and convincing that Buffs’ quarterback Tyler Hansen guaranteed his team would never get spanked that badly again. At 2-0 and outscoring opponents by a combined 104-10, the Bears appeared to be rolling. As soon as you think Cal is rolling, that’s exactly when they disappoint.

The Bears were on national television Friday night in Reno to play the Wolfpack. Nevada’s motive is simple; they’re going to score a ton of points and give up a ton and just hope they have more than you. Playing against Kevin Riley, the odds are generally in your favor.

Nevada had gone up 21-7 in the second quarter but Cal cut it to 21-14 with a Shane Vereen touchdown run. Nevada kicked a field goal before halftime going up 24-14. Following a Cal TD early in the third, it was a one possession game. Of course, that’s when Riley did what Riley does best — help the opponent. He threw his second of three interceptions and it was returned for a touchdown, giving Nevada a 31-21 lead. They wound up winning 52-31, totaling 316 yards rushing and showing UCLA what a pistol offense is supposed to look like.

This is the third year in a row Cal tanked following a promising start. Two years ago, the Bears beat Michigan State in their opener and rolled Wassou in their second game. Then they lost to Maryland 35-27 as they were throwing up their breakfast for the early call. Last year, they put up two 50+ spots and then beat Minnesota to start out 3-0. By week four they were spent and they got hammered by Oregon 42-3 and embarrassed by USC the following week 30-3.

Cal has a good football program and Jeff Tedford did an incredible job turning them around, but few teams can oscillate from being impressive to pathetic more quickly than they can. It’s a maddening experience, but sadly, it’s become very predictable.

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