It's that time again ...
I've been having a little trouble trying to decide if this week's guesses post should be more about the Bruins or the Bears, so how about a little bit of both?
Last week, I opined thusly:
If we take care of business at the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon (and if the Dodgers clinch that evening), Sunday's L.A. Times sports section might actually be fun to read -- for those of us who still cling to the antiquated custom of having a stranger drop a bundle of paper wrapped in plastic on the driveway sometime in the middle of the night and on that paper is printed words of events that took place the day before.
Theoretically, by the time hiicaliber adds up the Pregame Guesses, the Bruins could be 4-1 and both the Dodgers and Angels could be in their respective championship series.
But a lot has to happen between now and then.
First things first, the Bruins need to beat the Ducks.
Well, we know how that worked out. The locals took care of business on the diamond.
On the gridiron, it was a different story.
I won't revisit all of last week's column, I'll just re-make the key point:
Have we beaten a good team this season?
I'll refrain from busting out the asterisk that I used to sum up the 3-0 non-conference performance. I will however remind everyone what I concluded about the Oregon game.
I predict we'll beat Oregon.
Jonathan Crompton aside, the Bruins still need to prove they can win road games. Stanford is not the toughest environment in college football, but we're still a relatively young team at some key positions and winning road conference games is tough even for senior-laden teams. This goes for Oregon, too, who are not the same team on the road that they are in Autzen.
The quarterback situation for both teams is in flux. I can't get a straight answer on whether or not the Ducks' Jeremiah Masoli is going to play or not. His status for Saturday seems Tim Tebowesque at the moment. As for UCLA, we get Kevin Prince back and to me, that makes all the difference in the world.
So, while I rarely make predictions, I'm going to call a UCLA win -- a win that will retire the asterisk for the rest of the season.
Well, I was wrong. Wrong enough that I lack the confidence to make a similar prediction this week against Cal.
Speaking of which, I'd planned to do a whole thing this week on why exactly Cal fans seem to hate UCLA so much, when the truth is, Cal is a Pac 10 team that I sort of like in a how-much-can-you-really-like-a-team-that's-not-your-team sort of way. I had some technical difficulties with the podcast towards the end, so I'm not sure if Ryan ever asked our friend from the Cal blog to address that, but that's the question I would have asked if I were on the link with him.
But, at this point, my heart isn't in it and, frankly, there's no need to poke a stick into a hornets nest.
I will say that I agree with the guys in the podcast who said this is a must game for both teams. The winner moves to 4-2 and can reasonably expect to finish with at least six wins and a bowl appearance. The loser falls to 3-3 and will be forced to reassess their whole situation.
Despite these similarities, the teams are not exactly in the same position. Though UCLA fans are surely disappointed to be 3-2 (after a 3-0 start), they can't be shocked. Preseason predictions and expectations hovered between 5-7 and 7-5 and no one I know thought this was anything other than Year Two in Rick Neuheisel's rebuilding process.
It's different for Cal. They were ranked in the Top Five a few weeks ago and had a Heisman Trophy candidate in Jahvid Best. Two shellackings later and they're looking at BCS dreams turning into no bowl nightmares. And while I can't speak for them, some of them must be silently wondering when exactly Jeff Tedford's program is going to finally have the breakthrough season they've been waiting for. I'm not suggesting that Tedford's turnaround of the one win Holmoe era hasn't been successful, I'm simply saying that Cal's hold on their current position as one of the conference's three best teams (along with USC and Oregon) appears precarious from my vantage point and they have to be a little bit concerned about a slip back to middle of the pack status.
hicalliber requested that I go easier on everyone due to the difficult nature of last week's guesses. LOL -- that's actually hard to do, unless I ask the truly obvious. I just try and make them weird and fun -- they're guesses, not predictions. Anyways, here goes:
- Will UCLA get more field goals or touchdowns against Cal? Or will they have the same amount? (Answer should be TDs, FGs, or Same)
- Name a Bruin who will recover a Cal fumble? (Just to be clear, this is a Bruin who will recover a ball fumbled by a Cal player. If you want to say "Milton Knox" because you think a Cal defender will intercept a pass and fumble on the return, that's fine. Personally, I'm going with someone on defense. You can say "none" or "no one', too.)
- Wow -- number 2 is a hard question. I need to make this one easier. Okay, will the Bruins run or pass on their first play from scrimmage?
Bonus question: I was going to make this an essay, so that hi would have to grade the responses subjectively, but that would have been cruel But, I still want to have a bonus question. The question is:
Which team, Cal or UCLA will score last in the game? It could be a game winning field goal, It could be a late touchdown in garbage time by the team getting blown out. But, the question is: Who scores last in the game?