California's 34-28 victory over Stanford was unexpected, because the Cardinal was steamrolling teams over the past few weeks. The Cardinal scored 50 plus points on Oregon and USC and they were the hottest team in the country. The Bears were coming into the game without Jahvid Best and based on the way the season was going Cal was thought of as the second best team in the Bay Area.
When you look at the coaches for both of these teams it appears that Jeff Tedford and Jim Harbaugh are headed in opposite directions. When it comes to California football fans there are two factions. One group is elated by all the recent bowl berths, because they remember the not too distant past of the Bears not making a bowl game at all. There is another group of Cal fans that are upset at a number of things such as Tedford's inability to recruit a quality QB since Aaron Rodgers, no Rose Bowl or BCS appearances, no signature wins and Cal can't beat USC, but Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington can. The Bears team this year was expected to challenge for the Pac Ten Title, but Cal could be headed to the Las Vegas or Emerald Bowl. Stanford is bowl eligible for the first time since 2001. RB Toby Gerhart will probably get an invitation to New York for the Heisman ceremony. Jim Harbaugh is now one of the coaches that a lot of Colleges and NFL teams will come after and throw a big contract at once the season is over. Harbaugh will have to decide how much he can accomplish at Stanford and if his goal is to chase a National Championship or a Lombardi Trophy.
How good is the talent on both of these teams? When Stanford losses Gerhart to the NFL Draft next year will they have enough talent to go 8-4 or better in 2010? The Cardinal have a highly rated RB in Freshmen Tyler Gaffney. Gaffney is averaging 4.0 YPC on only 22 carries and it would not be fair to expect Gaffney to produce the same numbers as Gerhart in Tyler's first year as a starter next season. It is also possible the Stanford will implement a more wide-open passing attack next season and let QB Andrew Luck put the ball up 30 times a game. If Jahvid Best leaves Cal, the Bears will not have as many explosive plays in the running game, but they do have a very durable and productive back in Shane Vereen. Vereen has 147 carries for 738 yards and 10 TD's. In the "Big Game" Shane ran the ball 42 times for 193 yards and 3 TD's. The Bears will also return quality WR's in Marvin Jones, Alex Lagemann, Michael Calvin and Jeremy Ross. The Bears offense will only be explosive next season if Kevin Riley can get his completion percentage over 60%.
Heading into next season Stanford has to open up the vault to Jim Harbaugh and hope that there is not a more attractive job opportunity than Stanford at this point in time. Stanford should be able to reel in a lot of quality recruits this season. QB Andrew Luck will be one of the best players at his position next year and should easily throw for 20 or more touchdowns in 2010. It would give the Cal program a big boost if Jahvid Best returns for his SR. year. Best returning to the Bears would also put a tremendous amount of pressure on the program and California has proven over the years that they do not perform well under pressure. Stanford fans will be satisfied with a contract extension for Jim Harbaugh and another bowl berth in 2010. If I take the Rose Bowl out of the equation it might be possible that Bear fans would be satisfied with a second place finish and an Alamo Bowl appearance in 2010.