Pac-12 Championship

30 06 2010

This is what it all comes down to, a playoff championship. The Pac-12 should disband from the NCAA and form its own conference so it can have one of these every year. With Cal and USC playing for the championship on the same day as the Twilight Eclipse premier I noticed that each team shared some characteristics with the rivalry between Team Edward and Team Jacob. Both the Pac-12 championship and Twilight have the good vs evil, favorite vs underdog (or underwolf), and competition for the love of the fans.

USC fans are notoriously known for their pretentious attitude, which happens to be the same way Edward Cullen carries himself in Twilight (at least the first two movies). Edward and the Cullen’s are in the same tax bracket as USC fans, and like USC coach Lane Kiffin and Athletic Director Mike Garrett, their condescending tone gets old quickly. Like USC, Edward has the speed and power that make men want to be him, and the women want to be with him. He has been sitting in his room and thinking about 16 year old girls since Abraham Lincoln was President, which makes him like one of those three guys in high school that’s pulling tail left and right, but with 100 years of experience to hone his craft. In a similar fashion, USC has a long-lasting tradition of Rose Bowls, National Championships, and Heisman Winners. Edward’s advantage is that he can read minds, USC’s advantage is that they buy their star players houses in San Diego and give them cars with ridiculous looking rims.

Cal fans desperately want what USC has the way Jacob wants Edward’s girlfriend Bella. Bears and werewolves are both fetid creatures like Cal hippies, and you’ll probably find Cal fans wearing the same jorts & birkenstocks as Jacob Black and his buddies. The pack that Jacob rolls with is native american and these tree-sitters that delayed the Memorial Stadium upgrade tried to make a case that the land surrounding the area was a sacred Indian burial ground. Luckily for the Bears, this is football, not fantasy. The games actually have to be played instead of dancing around and flirting with each other.

The Trojans came in as seven point favorites, but you couldn’t tell based on how the teams were played inthe first half. The Bears received the kickoff and gashed the USC defense for an 8 play 73 yard drive that was capped by a 12 yard Anthony Miller TD in the corner of the end zone. Matt Barkley would march his troops all the way into the red zone before a tipped pass was intercepted by Sean Cattouse in the middle of the field. With the Cal offensive line holding its own, Kevin Riley was able to find Marvin Jones on a play-action pass for a 36 yard pickup to put the Bears past midfield. After a Jeremy Ross reverse and HB screen to Shane Vereen the Bears went up 14-0. The Trojans would come right back though with Allen Bradford plowing over Cal freshman linebacker Chris Martin to pick up 15 yards. Matt Barkley started to find his groove completing 3 of 5 passes with a beautiful over the shoulder pass to fullback Stanley Havili on a wheel route that resulted in a touchdown. The Bears struggled the rest of the half as the Trojan defense started to get more aggressive. Devon Kennard and Jurrell Casey each notched a Kevin Riley sack with Casey’s resulting in a fumble and recovery for USC. The final score of the half was USC freshman Dillon Baxter’s 25 yard TD out of the wildcat to cut the halftime score to 20-17 in favor of the Bears.

The Trojans came out in the second half and looked undisciplined offensively by racking up two false start penalties in the first five plays. This set up a 3rd and 12 for Kiffin in his own territory and he played it conservatively with a delayed hand off only to see CJ Gable hit in the backfield by Cameron Jordan. After a Trojans punt the Bears drove right down field in 6 plays, but failed could only manage a field goal to go up 23-16. USC looked like they were about to tie it up on their next possession, but a Matt Barkley fumble at the Cal 6 yard line shifted the momentum to the Bears.  Just when Cal fans thought Jeff Tedford would go to his classic we-only-have-a-one-score-lead-but-will-play-ultra-conservative strategy, Kevin Riley was throwing on 3 consecutive downs to move the chains back into Trojan territory. Shane Vereen would have a 15 yard TD called back on a Jeremy Ross holding call and the Bears would have to settle for another field goal to put them up ten points. Trojan wide receiver Ronald Johnson finally got into the mix with a 47 yard completion to get them back in the red zone. Two plays later Matt Barkley would hit Bryce Butler in the middle of the field for a 19 yard touchdown to get within three with 6 minutes to play in the game.

Isi Sofele would collect the ensuing kickoff for the Bears and take it all the way back to the Cal 43 yard line. We were certain that Jeff Tedford would milk his lead, but he came out with play-action on first down that he tossed it to the H-back Spencer Ladner for a 13 yard gain and a first down. Two out of the next three plays were out of the wildcat formation, but Shane Vereen would only gain seven yards and failed to get a first down. The Bears were forced to punt with 3:45 to play and Bryan Anger delivered by pinning it at the five yard line. With the Trojans 95 yards away from victory, everyone expected a drive similar to the one Matt Barkley had the year before against Ohio St. With the Bears dropping eight into coverage to prevent the long-ball, CJ Gable took a screen pass 8 yards. Freshman WR Robert Woods and caught a  10 yard pass to give them a first down. Matt Barkley then hit Kyle Prater on the sideline for a 25 yard pass, but it was called by on a holding penalty and resulted in an 8 yard loss. Matt Barkley shook it off and went right back to business hitting Ronald Johnson on a slant play resulting in a 15 yard gain. On second and three Lane Kiffin tried to keep the defense honest by running the ball one more time, but Bradford failed to pick up positive yards or run out of bounds and it kept the clock running. With only 60 seconds to play the Trojans started to feel desperate and pick up the pace, but two incompletions by Matt Barkley would end the USC’s drive. Cal fans stormed the field and the band was on the field!

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