We all know what happened when Cal played Colorado last year.
The Bears embarrassed the Buffaloes, 52-7. Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen threw three picks. The Buffs coughed up the ball twice.
It was ugly.
But that was last year, and at Memorial Stadium.
And Colorado is a different team at home.
Last season, the Buffaloes lost all of their road games, aside from their season opener against Colorado State in Denver. In the friendly confines of Folsom Field, however, Colorado beat the likes of Georgia, Kansas State and Iowa State. The Buffs crushed Hawaii by 18 last season at home; interestingly enough, they lost to the Warriors by 17 last week in Hawaii.
Colorado’s only two home losses in 2010 were to two tough teams, Baylor and Texas Tech, by a combined nine points.
Saturday’s meeting between Cal and Colorado will not be a repeat of last year.
The team knows this, or rather, says it knows this.
“Our thoughts aren’t really on last year at all, so we’re going into this game as … it is a new team, really,” Bears defensive lineman Trevor Guyton said.
“That was last year,” defensive lineman Ernest Owusu said. “The win last year was great and all, but this is a completely different team.”
Certainly the D-line got the memo, but how can the players not think about last year’s wipe-out? There have been games in the past in which the Cal didn’t seem to show the necessary fire it takes to win a football game.
Which begs the question, which Bears will show up on Saturday?
It could be the team that destroyed Colorado last year, or the squad that rebounded from a worrisome start to defeat Fresno State in last Saturday’s season opener?
It just as likely could be the club that was embarrassed in its first away game of the season last year against a lethal Nevada squad.
Cal needs to show up on Saturday. It can’t make the kinds of errors it did last Saturday — throwing an interception on essentially the first play of the game, fumbling in its own end zone, committing 90 yards worth of penalties, missing two extra points.
Fortunately for the Bears, Fresno State was not as good as advertised (and the Bulldogs were not necessarily advertised as being all that good), and Cal was able to cruise to a victory last week. Colorado is by no means a superpower — the program has been down for year — but it’s still a home game, the home opener, and surely the squad will be hungry for revenge after last year’s embarrassment in Berkeley.
Cal needs to show it is ready for Pac-12 play by playing a sound game with few errors. It is the Bears’ last test before conference play. Cal begins conference play at Washington in two weeks, before games against Oregon, USC and Utah, arguably three of the Pac-12’s four best teams.
Many of the Cal players were not satisfied with the win over Fresno State; the defense, for instance, really only gave up one true offensive touchdown, and that was near the end of the game, but Owusu was critical.
“The score didn’t quite show it, but we were a little sloppy on the defense at times,” he said.
The Bears will be able to beat Presbyterian on Sept. 17 despite sloppy play. But not Washington. Not Oregon. Not USC.
And not Colorado.