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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cal beats UCLA 45 to 26; Cal not in BCS Standings?

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The Cal Golden Bears got the win they (we) needed Saturday with a 45 to 26 win over the hated UCLA Bruins, marking the first time Cal Football Head
Coach Jeff Tedford has won at the Rose Bowl in his time with Cal.

Congrats Coach Tedford!

The win gives us a 4 and 2 overall record, and it was all heart, frankly. Some things in the scheme department to rave about but plenty in the execution area to be happy with. But what vexes me is the BCS standings just released today: Cal's not in them.

But before I get to that, let's go back to that matter of running plays. Hats off to Heisman Trophy Candidate Javhid Best, who ran for 102 yards, discovered cutback running. Not that he's failed to do it before, but the 93 yard run was the best one I've seen him do. Plain and simple. See for yourself:

Cal's other star running back on Saturday was Shane Vereen, who gained 154 yards, most of it replacing the ill Best. But he did it out of a very well-designed set of running plays, one a draw play that was so smoothly executed by Cal QB Kevin Riley, it looked as if he had the ball even after he gave it to Vereen.

Another surprise was Riley himself running the ball out of a spread formation. Cal's done it before but had it tucked away for a few games until UCLA.

Offensively it wasn't Cal using a trick play but plays smartly designed to get the ball to their best players. Take the 2nd quarter play action pass to Best running out of the I Formation.

It's a play that requires the offensive line to hold their blocks after the play fake a bit longer than I'd like, because Best comes out of the tailback position to run a fly pattern. In this game it worked - Best caught the ball and scored 52-yards downfield - but I can see a defensive coordinator calling a six-rusher blitz in the future; UCLA only sent four people.

At any rate, it was a great and much needed win. Offensively Cal needs to install more true rollout passes and I'd like to see more of the system I've called for before, but a win's a win.

Now about that BCS thing.

The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) rankings were released today, and Cal was no where to be seen.

Florida, Alabama, Texas, Boise State, and Cincinnati are ranked 1 through 5. USC, TCU, LSU, Miami, Fla, and Oregon are 6 through 10. Here's the list:

First 2009 BCS Poll

1. Florida

2. Alabama

3. Texas

4. Boise State

5. Cincinnati

6. Iowa

7. USC

8. TCU

9. LSU

10. Miami (FL)

11. Oregon

12. Georgia Tech

13. Penn State

14. Virginia Tech

15. Oklahoma State

16. Brigham Young

17. Houston

18. Utah

19. Ohio State

20. Pittsburgh

21. Wisconsin

22. Arizona

23. West Virginia

24. South Carolina

25. Kansas

It's a crowded field, with a whole bunch of one-loss teams, and four two-loss teams, including (huh?) Arizona (4 and 2) is there. We're (Cal) 1-2 in the conference, whereas Arizona is 2-1.

So we've really got to turn on the jets to get into BCS land and UCLA was a great start. Washington State, at 0-4, is the next home game and every bit as important as this one. Arizona now faces a desperate UCLA team: a loss could be just the tonic we need to enter the BCS picture.

Of course the BCS system is more complicated than that, but let's put it this way: for now we want to root for UCLA to beat Arizona Saturday.


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