Brace yourselves. NCAA football season is here which means this blog may become littered with inane posts about the team I root for as well as the team I love to hate.
But before I alienate some of my favorite bloggers (while charming others), let me state right here that we Angelinos on both sides of the sun and surf ball can come together. It's true. There is a uniting force larger than our cross town rivalry.
Give it up for... the Pac Ten.
As a southern Californian in exile in the middle west, it gets more than a little tedious to hear nothing but praise for the Big Ten and SEC, as though every program west of the Mississippi is the equivalent of Tomahawk football, lucky to be in big boy college ball. Insulting. It's not the west coast's fault that their games are never aired in the east, or that their time zone renders them unwatchable when the games start after 7 p.m. PST. USC is not their only powerhouse (three programs ranked in the top twenty-five right now) and SC's schedule is tough because they play every other Pac Ten team all season long... a punishing schedule some experts say.
Hey Michigan - why don't you try that? - playing every Big Ten team all season long? Choosing Appalachian State as your opener - shame on you! Planning a trouncing in the first game of the season to bolster your standings in the BCS.... And a trouncing it was... for Appalachian State! I'll bet you'll get sick of hearing that this was the BIGGEST UPSET IN SPORTS HISTORY! Yeah, it sucks to be you today. (But my Buckeye-bound daughter is all smiles this morning and she doesn't even like football.)
Back to the Pac-Ten.
USC may have a machine-like program under Pete Carroll, but we can't forget the other teams... like, oh say, the Bruins? UCLA beat those Trojan tushies last December 2, 2006 in a game for the decade, ruining SC's dreams of a national title and sugar plums dancing in their heads. Ahhh. One can never relive that moment often enough.
But back to the Pac-Ten.
USC, UCLA... What about Cal? Last night they played the much vaunted Volunteers (the Golden Bears were beat 35-zip last year when they played in Daniel Boone country). It was a real football game where both teams were evenly matched, where scoring happened at regular crowd-pleasing intervals, where the defense stopped touchdowns on the one-yard line on both sides of the ball, where the passing game of both teams looked in control and balanced...
The real show, though, came from the various weapons on the Cal offense. Look out for Desean Jackson (1) (his 77 yd. punt return, while outsmarting three or four attempted tackles en route to the endzone, is destined to be the highlight reel of the season), Justin Forsett (20) who is, in a word, ridiculous (he simply turns every carry into multiple yards while pushing, leaping over and turning the corner around big guys), while Jahvid Best (4) and Lavelle Hawkins (7) turned in incredible running and catching performances, too. It was the most creative set of plays and runs I've seen in a football game in years. Just when I thought it couldn't get better, it did. Robert Jordan (2) did a spectacular lateral leap over the body of his opponent into the end zone, both legs flying at the most gymnastically awkward angles, after a great little run up the middle in the second quarter.
Okay, enough of that.
Still, let's review shall we? Cal played TN, a team that beat them 35-0 in their season opener last year. They didn't pay Appalachian State to come to their opener to show off for the TV, to bolster their rankings, to please alums. (Well, apparently U of M didn't do that either, come to think of it.)
UCLA beat Stanford, USC beat Idaho (not a tough thing to do, but their schedule gets tougher), Cal beat TN.
Good start for our three ranked teams. Go Pac Ten!