The WFC gang and I are 2-0 going into Big Game’s (2021 and 2022). Chance? I do not think so!
Three quarters into Saturday, I was apoplectic, confused, and watching in desperation as the clock shifted to the fourth quarter. Then we got what was probably one of the biggest momentum-changing quarters in Big Game history, with Daniel Scott and Jackson Sirmon cementing themselves in the books forever. This is why we do this. To smash people representing red and white for 60 minutes, to chant “take off that red shirt” to people who dare to cross enemy lines, and to utter other obscenities that I was happy to participate in but won’t repeat. The Ax is at home where it belongs.
Buy: Memorial Stadium
This was the Sickos Game of the week.
That didn’t stop about 52,000 fans from seeing two 3-7 teams take the field in a rivalry game where there’s no respect between the two fan bases. Memorial was loud. It was rocking in the first quarter and fourth quarter, forcing a few false starts off the Stanford offensive line and getting absolutely challenging when Cal stormed back late in the game. This is what Cal football can be. An environment where opposing teams don’t want to set foot here, knowing that their hopes for perfect seasons/playoffs could be blown. It certainly helped that this was Berkeley’s first Big Game with fans since 2018, but this could be a sign of things to come. The results should be in no doubt, but if this mob can be a plague for what’s to come, be ready for it, because the environment will skyrocket.
I can’t stress enough how much I loved Garry Chryst’s play-calling this week. Chryst rolled away from below center action sets and called more maximum protection packs with zone read concepts that put our skill position players on the ball in space. It was lovely, it was vibrant, and while the results might have been three quarters off due to errors (namely drops from normally confident recipients), the process was much better and much smoother. I mean, Cal had 3 drives on the positive side of the field that didn’t result in points (one failed 4th down and Plummer’s 2 redzone interceptions). Now imagine if there were 10-17 points more converted from those drivers people would be excited about the day the offense had been. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, because we’ve got the players to do it, and UCLA will be a good test for Chryst’s audition.
Early in the fourth quarter, several of us were chatting that Cal needed a momentum-changing game to send Memorial into a frenzy. Monroe Young scored a touchdown and the crowd started to come alive. Then the unthinkable happened. One of the site’s OGs swivel hook, manifested a scoop and score that sent fans into a bonanza (Joe Starkey must have unleashed one during the Big Game). It felt like a frenzied concert in Section R, as if the main event had just started and the crowd wouldn’t be satiated until the Bears walked out with the axe. I mean, all it took was a double fumble, right? No less than on the 40th anniversary of The Play. #Scoop Score forever.
Pac 12 quick hits
USC vs UCLA: Buy
In a game full of undeniable evil, a total of 93 points were scored in the Rose Bowl. And no, it wasn’t Ohio State vs Utah, but the Battle of LA that ended up having some meaning. So important that regular Big Noon kickoff announcers Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt were diverted for this 5 p.m. showdown between the Trojans and Bruins. Caleb Williams again illustrated why he is the best player in the Pac 12, passing for 470 yards and two touchdowns and going for another touchdown on the ground. His biggest trait that isn’t even in the box score is his elusiveness and toughness, the guy just doesn’t get fired. He can spin out of pressure, break tackles, throw in the run and do it all. The Pac 12 Championship between USC and an opponent to be determined this week is going to be absolute insanity (and Cal can decide who gets into the title game for all you idiots)!
State of Oregon: buy
Okay, I’ve seen enough, Oregon State should give Jonathon Smith a lifetime contract. His hiring of Trent Bray as defensive coordinator and Jim Michalczik as offensive line coach was nothing short of fantastic. Heading into a morning game (11:15am PST!!!) against the lowly state of Arizona without the following players: Jack Colletto, Anthony Gould, Jaydon Grant, Alex Austin and DeShaun Fenwick, the Beavers had every reason to fall asleep at the wheel with a Civil War showdown next week against Oregon looming large. However, the Beavers overcame their only weakness in the Jonathon Smith era, road games, and defeated the Sun Devils 31-7. And now they have a chance to stake their claim with a 9-3 season with the Ducks coming to Reser next weekend. Can’t ask for much more than that.
My prediction: The Oregon State Beavers will beat the Oregon Ducks in Civil War next Saturday.
I don’t even care if I’m wrong. I’m all in on Jonathon Smith.
Washington State Defense: Buy
Earlier this week, Arizona quarterback and Wazzu transfer Jayden De Laura described his game against Washington State as “personal.” Whether that’s because he had a close relationship with former coach Nick Rolovich or didn’t like the way Jake Dickert went after Eric Morris and Cam Ward is anyone’s guess. He promised to make his old team pay. He didn’t cash. The Cougars defense came to play, choked the prolific Wildcats offense and forced 4 De Laura interceptions and sacked him twice in the day. Derrick Langford Jr took home one of those picks and made De Laura feel the impact of his mistakes. Washington State went about their business quietly, probably using De Laura’s quotes and emotions as bulletin board material. Now they have a chance to bring Washington’s great season to a halt this weekend in the Apple Cup. So many good games and matchups. Let’s do this.
David Shaw’s Job Security: Buy
Need I say more? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Let’s make sure he hangs.
The Ax is still at home. It doesn’t matter how we did it, but we did it. The first home win against Furd since 2008, featuring the 1982 team’s Shane Vereen, Joe Kapp, Evan Weaver, Cam Goode, Josh Drayden and Mike Mohamed. Call out Jeremiah Earby for his performance in his first-ever Big Game, with several pass breakups. Daniel Scott, take a bow, we saw you back in 2019 with the interception and now the forced fumble this year. I can’t write it better than that.
Dwight Garner, that one was for you. Go bears. Forever.