The Bears defeated the Golden Gophers 35-21. After jumping on Minnesota 14-0, California was outscored 21-7 before taking control of the game in the fourth quarter. The question is did the Bears make a great impression with this win? Minnesota is probably the fourth or fifth best team in the Big Ten with Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State and maybe Iowa ahead of them. On the other hand, Cal is expected to compete for first place in the Pac Ten. A 14 point victory in a new stadium on the road should not be overlooked, but the Bears should have put this game away before halftime. Cal has experienced a lot of trouble on the road going 1-4 in 2008.
The Trojans are the measuring stick for every team in the Pac Ten and Cal is trying to dethrone USC. The Trojans played the first or second best team in the Big Ten in Ohio State on the road and won by three. Last season USC beat Virginia on the road by 45. In 2007 USC beat Nebraska by 18 on the road and Notre Dame by 38 in South Bend. As the Trojans have shown when you have elite talent and a strong belief on what you are trying to accomplish the site of the game does not matter. The Bears have enough talent to beat a lot of teams by more than 20, but Cal is not playing up to their talent level. With Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen in the backfield and a talented group of WR’s, after the half it should not take until the fourth quarter to get a first down. Jahvid Best was on the sideline a lot in the second half. Best should always be on the field even if the ball is not going to him, because he demands so much attention from the defense that things will open up for other players. Jahvid finished the game with 26 carries for 131 yards and 5 TDs.
Going forward the key to the Bears season will be their ability to win games on the road. Next week California plays at Oregon. Later in the season the Bears play at UCLA, at Arizona State, at Stanford and at Washington. If the Bears plan on making a move nationally and in the Pac Ten Conference they will be forced to overcome their difficulties on the road. California’s defense will be a big reason why this football team starts to win on the road. The defense held Minnesota to 37 yards rushing and 4/12 on third down conversions. Next up is a difficult game in Autzen Stadium. If the Bears can get past the Ducks it would set-up a major match-up against the Trojans on October 3rd.