Game preview: Aztecs vs. California

What: California Golden Bears at San Diego State Aztecs
When: Saturday, September 10 at 7:30 PM
TV: CBS Sports Network
Line: Aztecs -7

So we’re playing Cal again. Awesome. Is this a rivalry?

Not exactly, but the schools do have a history. After Saturday’s game the Aztecs will have played Cal in six of the past 13 years. The Goldie Bears own a 4-3 lead in the series with the home team winning every game. Cal waxed SDSU last year at Berkeley 35-7 behind future first overall pick Jared Goff’s 300-plus and 3 TDs.

sports-reference.com

This is the second game of a home-and-home series scheduled in 2012 by departed AD Jim Sterk, back when SDSU and Boise State were playing out the string in the Mountain West before our bold move to the Big East. Or so we thought!

Since the Aztecs are moving to the Big East in 2013, they are looking to schedule their non-conference games closer to home. Another one of those schools is UCLA, but they haven’t been able to settle on dates yet.

“I’m looking at what’s in our geographic region so we don’t have to travel for these because we’re going to do that a couple of times (a season) anyway,” Sterk said.

How quaint this seems now, planning ahead for conference games at UConn, South Florida and the like. Sterk booked the Aztecs with Pac-12 opponents through 2022 so unless they meet in a bowl, this is likely the last we’ll see of Cal football for many years.

Why should we be scared of them?

They’re a Pac-12 school! SDSU usually has a Pac team or two on the schedule, and usually loses to them. Our most recent win against the Pac was in 2011 over Washington State—not exactly a power. Before that our last win over a Pac school was way back in 1995, versus Cal.

Even with Goff, Berkeley only went 8-5 last year. We shouldn’t be scared of them. We should be scared of the Signature Win eluding us once again. The Signature Win is SDSU’s white whale.

Do they have anyone worth watching?

QB Davis Webb, the 6’5″ senior transfer from Texas Tech, will be hard to miss. He stepped into Goff’s shoes in the “Bear Raid” (shotgun run-and-shoot hybrid) Cal offense and put up huge numbers against Hawai’i. Cal has three good running backs in Tre Watson, Khalfani Muhammad and big Vic Enwere, who will all get touches. Their defense gave up 31 points to Hawai’i. Watch them chasing Aztecs ballcarriers downfield.

Why should we hate them?

Berkeley is the original, flagship university of the UC system, as any Cal alum will happily tell you. In many ways Berkeley is exactly what San Diego State aspires to be: a leading research university and Pac-12 member. So out of jealousy and spite, we should hate them.

CalBearAbstract But it’s hard to hate Cal. Their Rose Bowl drought stretches back to 1959. They got screwed out of the 2005 Rose Bowl, a much grander and deeply wounding version of SDSU’s snub by the Las Vegas Bowl last year. They have inoffensive school colors. Their mascot is a non-threatening anthropomorphic bear in a letter sweater. They were the winner of The Play, and that guy flattening a Stanford trombone player while scoring the winning TD is one of the best sports moments of all time.

Do they have any famous alumni we can make fun of?

Cal boasts numerous famous alumni, none of which immediately come to mind as mockable, because Berkeley alums Aaron Rodgers and Marshawn Lynch exist. San Diego offseason resident Rodgers is a two-time Super Bowl champ and future Hall of Famer, while Marshawn Lynch is simply one of the best human beings to ever walk (or ghost ride) the earth. Tony Gonzalez played football AND basketball at Cal, bet you never heard that before.

I guess we could make fun of Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels but that was in 1929 and the statute of limitations for mocking has long run out.

Will we beat them?

I think so, but more importantly, we NEED to beat them. A few factors are on the Aztecs’ side, besides being the better football team. The home team has won every game in the series as previously mentioned. Oddsmakers favor the Aztecs by a touchdown. Vegas also has the Aztecs at 300-1 to win the National Championship, improving from their opening odds of 1000-1, while Cal has slipped to 1000-1 to win it all from their opening number of 300-1. They’re going the opposite direction! The trend is favorable! The elusive Signature Win will be ours, this time.

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Author: lemonverbena

Californian/Washingtonian, co-editor of Kabeer Thirty.

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