Aug. 29, 2005
Television: Comcast SportsNet With Barry Tompkins (play-by-play), Mike Pawlawski (analyst), Nicole Zaloumis (sidelines). Radio: Cal Radio Network (flagship: KGO AM 810, San Francisco) with Joe Starkey (play-by-play), Troy Taylor (analyst) and Todd McKim (sideline). Rankings: California is ranked No. 19 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 20 in the USA today Poll. Sacramento State is currently not ranked in the I-AA polls.
This Week's Game
The California Golden Bears open the 2005 season Saturday, Sept. 3, when they host Sacramento State at 2 p.m. in Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised in Northern California on Comcast SportsNet. Despite returning just 11 starters - the fewest in the Pac-10 - Cal is ranked in most preseason Top 25 polls, including No. 15 by The Sporting News, No. 17 by Sports Illustrated, No. 19 by Associated Press and No. 20 by USA Today. In addition, the Pac-10 media poll predicts the Bears to finish second in the league behind USC - the same as 2004 when Cal proceeded to finish 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the league.
On offense, the strength of the squad lies in the offensive line, where four starters return from last year's unit that helped Cal rank fifth nationally in total offense, averaging a school-record 492.4 yards per game. Senior center Marvin Philip, rated the No. 1 center in the country by The Sporting News and a preseason candidate for the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center, leads the up-front crew.
The Bears' forward wall has the benefit of blocking for one of the NCAA's most exciting runners in sophomore tailback Marshawn Lynch. A preseason candidate for both the Doak Walker Award and the Walter Camp Award, Lynch averaged 8.8 yards per carry in 2004 - highest in the Pac-10 during the season - while gaining 628 yards.
Perhaps the biggest task facing head coach Jeff Tedford is replacing departed quarterback Aaron Rodgers, with both redshirt-freshman Nate Longshore and junior college transfer Joe Ayoob battling for the starting nod. Both players are expected to see action in the opener.
Cal's defense is composed of vastly different personnel than a year ago, as the Bears have only three starters back in defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and cornerbacks Daymeion Hughes and Harrison Smith. However, Cal has the benefit of having several other players with significant starting experience in senior rover Donnie McCleskey, a first-team All-Pac-10 performer in 2003 who played injured most of last year; senior defensive end Tosh Lupoi, an 11-game starter in '03 who missed all of 2004 with a broken foot; and senior linebacker Ryan Foltz, who started five games at an outside spot early last fall.
Game Day Promotions
The Cal-Sacramento State game has been designated Penny Youth Day. Sponsored by PennySaver, all youth 12th-grade and under will be admitted for one cent (limit four youth tickets for each paid adult general admission ticket). For this Saturday, a special FunZone - Cal's official tailgate party - will be extended to three hours, starting at 11:00 a.m. on Maxwell Family Field and will feature live music by Island Style, while the March to Victory is at 11:30 a.m. next to Maxwell Field. After the game, 15,000 Cal football team posters will be distributed to fans as they leave Memorial Stadium.
A Quick Look at Sacramento State
Sacramento State returns 17 starters (8 offense, 7 defense, 2 kickers) from last year's squad that finished 3-8 overall and 2-5 in the Big Sky Conference (tied for sixth). Running back Ryan Mole earned honorable mention Freshman All-America honors last fall after rushing for 858 yards, which included a 35-carry, 245-yard effort vs. Montana State. He will have the advantage of running behind an offensive line that returns all five starters from 2004. On defense, senior LB Matt Logue has 31 career tackles for loss - a total that ranks third in school history.
Hornet Head Coach Steve Mooshagian
Steve Mooshagian enters his third season at Sacramento State and owns a 5-17 mark with the Division I-AA Hornets. He began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Fresno State, where he stayed from 1985-94 and was part of the staff along with Cal head coach Jeff Tedford for three seasons (1992-94).
The Bears are 9-5 in non-conference play under Jeff Tedford, including a 1-1 mark in the postseason. Sacramento State will be the first Division I-AA opponent for Tedford as a head coach.
California enters the Sacramento State contest ranked in both of the major preseason polls. The Bears are No. 19 in the Associated Press media poll and No. 20 in the USA Today coaches poll.
From Hunter to Hunted
Under Jeff Tedford, Cal has shown its ability to climb the Top 25 polls. The Bears are 10-3 when playing as a member of the nation's Top 25.
If previous season openers under Jeff Tedford are any indication, keep an eye on the scoreboard this weekend. In Tedford's three season openers as the Cal boss, the Bears are averaging 51.3 points. In fact, two of Cal's top five scoring games since 1937 have come in season openers under Tedford, including last year's romp in Colorado Springs against Air Force. Incidentally, the highest scoring game in Cal's modern history also came in a season opener when the 1991 squad wiped out Pacific, 86-24.
The Hottest Ticket in Town
Since Jeff Tedford came to Berkeley, fans have been showing up in record numbers to Memorial Stadium. Current season-ticket sales are approaching 40,000. Cal is already assured that it will set a new school record for season ticket sales for the second straight year. Prior to 2004, the old record of 30,000 was set in 1992.