Buckle your seat belts ladies and gentlemen as we take you on a four-state tour from the rainy terrain of Pullman, Washington, to the arid desert of Tucson Arizona. Only two years remain for the Pac-10 as we know it. In the near future, Colorado and Utah will join the conference and change the landscape. With them, they will bring divisions, a revised schedule, and a conference championship game. For now, sit back and enjoy the extravagant ride as we take a look at each team in the conference.
7. California Golden Bears
Location: Berkeley, California (Memorial Stadium)
Coach: Jeff Tedford (8 seasons: 67-35)
2009 Record: 8-5 (5-4)
Schedule: v.UC Davis, v.Colorado, @Nevada, @Arizona, v.UCLA, @USC, v.Arizona State, @Oregon State, @Washington State, v.Oregon, v.Stanford, v.Washington
Offense: QB Kevin Riley (SR) Defense: DE Cameron Jordan (SR)
RB Shane Vereen (JR) NT Derrick Hill (SR)
RB Will Kapp (JR) DE Trevor Guyton (JR)
WR Marvin Jones (JR) LB Chris Little (SO)
WR Jeremy Ross (SR) LB Mike Mohamed (SR)
TE Anthony Miller (JR) LB D.J. Holt (JR)
LT Donovan Edwards (SR) LB Keith Browner (SR)
LG Matt Summers-Gavin (SO) CB Bryant Nnabuife (SR)
C Chris Guarnero (SR) CB Josh Hill (SO)
RG Justin Cheadle (JR) SS Chris Conte (SR)
RT Mitchell Schwartz (JR) FS Sean Cattouse (JR)
Last Bowl: 2009 Poinsettia Bowl
Projected 2010 Record: 8-4
Outlook: Cal checked in at number twenty five in our preseason rankings primarily because they are expected to start off 3-0. Once conference play rolls around, that’s when the true colors will shine through for the Bears. On paper, this is a quality team. Kevin Riley has tons of experience under his belt and needs to step up and control the offense. As a senior, he will need to limit his interceptions and improve his accuracy. Shane Vereen is a speedy back that can fill the shoes of the departed Jahvid Best. With the offensive line returning four starters, Riley should have plenty of time to sit back and find the open receiver. The Bears have their top two wide receivers returning, and that should bode well for an offense that failed to crack the 24 point mark in six out of nine conference games. Because Cal utilizes the 3-4 scheme on defense, they will rely heavily on their speedy linebackers to hold down the fort. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has vowed to ratchet up the pressure on opposing offenses.
Let’s face it. For countless seasons, Cal has absolutely wilted under the weight of lofty expectations. Every time the Bears can see the summit, they slide back down the hill. However, things are different in Berkeley this season. Despite the talent coming back, expectations are tempered after the last few seasons. Without the added burden, Cal will be able to take some of the pressure off of themselves. Jeff Tedford has completely turned this program around since he stepped on the scene eight years ago. Despite the major strides, old and young Blues are getting very restless. They haven’t been to a Rose Bowl since 1959. A look at the message boards reveals many disgruntled fans who believe Tedford needs to deliver a Rose Bowl this year. However that is unreasonable; Tedford has revived a program that was dead and deserves credit for pulling Cal out of the cellar. The schedule sets up very favorably, with five conference home games and a relatively easy non-conference schedule. Furthermore, the conference is wide open. However, until they prove to not be head cases and show up for road games–which they certainly didn’t last season–the Bears leave us no choice but to slate that at number seven in the Pac-10 rankings.