Cal’s football season is like a 100 oz. steak challenge. It’s exciting at first, with the hungry challenger admired by his peers, the promise of achieving the unachievable enough to draw the attention of all in attendance at the restaurant. But then, after the allotted amount of steak a human body can reasonably consume is, well, consumed, it is all downhill from there.
The date is September 22nd. It’s a late afternoon game at Memorial Stadium in Berkley, where the sunshine unsuccessfully attempts to penetrate the gray, Northern California clouds looming overhead. Cal running back James Montgomery punches in a three yard run into the end zone with 10:53 remaining in the third quarter to give the Bears a commanding 38-10 lead over the Arizona Wildcats. I’m watching the game on the Versus network in Washington D.C. with three Wildcat fans, all of who are replacing their college football induced optimism with Rolling Rocks.
When week 5 is complete, USC stands at no. 2, while the Cal Bears claw at the Trojan’s heels with the no. 3 spot. Tickets spring up on eBay for their November 10th match-up in seven weeks at prices comparable to 70 inch plasma screens. Antsy Bear fans begin to think this is the year, and begin googling around to see if hurricane season might affect their sugary run to the national championship in New Orleans.
If they only knew.
Flash forward to Saturday, December 1st, where Stanford senior Nick Sanchez leads a charge through students in the end zone to emphatically reclaim The Axe. As he and his teammates pass the prized trophy around around, becoming the first seniors to pose for pictures with it in six years, the weight of Cal’s catastrophic two month tumble sets in like the challenger that tried to take on the 100 ounce steak.
Much like the 100 oz steak challenge, its sickening and intriguing to see what happened to the California Bears football team since that convincing win over the Arizona Wildcats. The next week, they beat then no. 9 Oregon on ESPN’s college gameday in Eugene. They were ranked no. 2 in the entire country. Did they catch the “number 2 bug” (which plagued USC, media darling South Florida, Boston College, Oregon, Kansas, and most recently West Virginia)? Did they just completely fell apart as a team?
They lost six of their last seven games, after starting the season 5-0. They barely made a bowl game. They’ll be taking on the unranked Air Force Falcons in the Armed Forces bowl in Fort Worth, TX, where a win would go largely unnoticed and would do nothing to salvage their season.
A little different than the Sugar Bowl.
Exciting at first, uneventful at its end, Cal’s football season is one that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.