This story originally appeared in the Cal football game day magazine, Kickoff, Oct. 3, 2009.
California Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford recently related what he felt were the five games that were the most significant in Cal football's turnaround. Standout players from those games also share their thoughts.
Cal 46, No. 15 Michigan State 22 --Sept. 14, 2002, East Lansing, Mich.
TEDFORD'S TAKE -- "We jumped out to a lead and they came back. How we responded to that and won the game going away, that was the biggest point in the transition of belief, a concrete case of the guys believing in themselves. They were over the hump."
SINGLED OUT -- QB Kyle Boller (4 TDs -- 2 Passing, 1 Rushing, 1 Receiving): "His play in that game, to go on the road and just keep answering the bell, was huge."
BOLLER SAID -- "Jeff put together an awesome game plan. To go up there and beat those guys, that really set the tone for our team for the rest of the year. There'd been so many rough years, but that instilled confidence in us. It was huge for the football program."
Cal 34, No. 12 Washington 2 -- Oct. 5, 2002, Seattle, Wash.
TEDFORD'S TAKE -- "After not beating Washington for 19 straight meetings, that was a point of emphasis. The whole theme was `Expect to Win. Don't be surprised tomorrow when you win this game'."
SINGLED OUT -- Cal fans and Boller (5 TD passes): "I'll always remember the fans on the road, our cheering section in the end zone, how all of our players went and enjoyed the victory with the fans. And Boller running around the field like an airplane with his arms out, just happy."
BOLLER SAID -- "My mom still has the picture that was in the paper. I was running toward the sideline, looking at Jeff and having so much fun. When you play for a guy like him, he just really cares for all of his players, and to go up there and win for him in his first year was really special."
Cal 30, Stanford 7 -- Nov. 23, 2002, 105th Big Game, Berkeley, Calif.
TEDFORD'S TAKE -- "That crowd when we beat Stanford and they tore the goal posts down, that was a big deal."
SINGLED OUT -- "The reaction of the crowd for getting the Axe back. For the players who couldn't go to a bowl game because of previous sanctions, for that to be the way they ended their career was just awesome to see. Those seniors in that environment and the way the fans reacted to that game, it was a big deal."
CONSIDERING THE CROWD -- TB Joe Igber (226 yards rushing): "It still gives me goose bumps. I played that game with a dislocated rib, and the last four minutes of the fourth quarter, with all the students crowding on the sideline. That was my championship."
Cal 34, No. 3 USC 31 (3OT) -- Sept. 27, 2003, Berkeley, Calif.
TEDFORD'S TAKE -- "That win kind of solidified it in the fans' eyes. It gave our program some recognition."
SINGLED OUT -- Backup QB Reggie Robertson (TD pass in 1st OT), DL Brian Tremblay (forced fumble at Cal 5-yard line in 1st OT): "For Reggie to come in and throw a touchdown pass under duress in such a highly competitive game, he came in and pretty much won the game. Brian's play, topping off a big defensive stand down there to knock the ball loose, was huge."
SAID REGGIE -- "I got word that I was going in and the offense was already huddling up on the sideline. I just took off my headphones and grabbed my helmet. I can't really express how grateful I am to be a part of that."
TREMBLAY'S TAKE -- "Hundreds of plays, maybe thousands, but there are certain moments you look back and know they meant something. Making that play, it was instantaneous. I knew that was going to be big."
Cal 52, Virginia Tech 49 -- Dec. 26, 2003, Insight Bowl, Phoenix, Ariz.
TEDFORD'S TAKE -- "That was a shootout against a great team and we just kept answering the bell. Obviously, to win it was big."
SINGLED OUT -- WRs Chase Lyman (5 rec, 149 yards, TD) and Vincent Strang (4th-quarter TD on reverse): "To see how Vinny competed against that type of competition, and then Chase stepping up and having the game of his life at a time when he didn't think he was going to play anymore, those were two key components to that game."
SAID STRANG -- "That bowl win speaks volumes about the confidence coach Tedford has in his players, along with the heart, will and pride he instills in all of us."
CHASE CHIMED IN -- "It was really gratifying to know that we had turned it around and gotten Cal football going in the right direction again. Beating Virginia Tech was great, but knowing we had the program going in the right way was the best."