Friday, December 01, 2006

The pageantry of the Big Game


As a graduate of Cal, Money has been picking on Cal all year. This past year, Money has constantly bet against the Bears and criticized their coach Jeff Tedford for not winning a (not THE) big game. While this might still be true, I have softened my stance a bit and I owe this change of judgment to Joe Starkey and the Cal Band.

On Wednesday night I attended a Big Game dinner at Momo’s in San Francisco. Joe Starkey, the voice of the Bears, was the emcee. After hearing his voice it did not take long to invoke memories of “the band is on the field” and to truly appreciate his passion for the game and most importantly the Bears. If that was not enough the Cal band came marching through the restaurant with their tubas blaring and drums blasting. The crowd was clapping and Money got a little caught up in this as well.

There is no question that this may be the most talent that Cal has ever had on one football team in the history of their existence. Time will tell when we look back on the number of great players on this team and their impact in the NFL. Additionally obvious is the fact that USC is the yardstick that Pac 10, as well as most of the country, measures themselves by. Cal is close to them. They do not have the depth but they are close in talent and if they committed to their football team the way USC does, there is no reason to believe that you could not throw Cal’s name into national title contending teams year after year along with Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, USC and Texas.

The problem with this theory is that for most fans, a 9-3 record and a trip to the Holiday bowl is a pretty good season, and likely as good as it gets for Bear fans. Cal is and always will be an academic school, first and foremost. Athletics will always be third or fourth on the list of importance to this school.

So what does all this mean as we enter big game weekend as a 28 point favorite? Enjoy the tradition, wear your blue and gold scarf, get drunk, bet against Cal and witness one of the longest standing rivalries in college football.

Before we get on to the gambling picks, I thought I would take a moment and recognize another gambling great. On Thursday, Russell Baze finished first at Bay Meadows putting him into a tie for most all time victories at 9530. I can not tell you how many classes I missed to go down the street to watch and bet on R. Baze at Golden Gate Field. We had no idea that this little guy had so much staying power. We thought we were just great handicappers.

College games:

UCLA +13.5 vs. usc
This is a big game for both teams. UCLA has a great defense. USC is not going to run away in this game.

STANFURD +29 @ cal
The Cardinal is bad, but not this bad. This will be a blowout but Stanford will score at the end of the game for the backdoor cover.

RUTGERS +10.5 @ West Va
I gave up on West Virginia a couple of weeks ago. I think they gave up on themselves too.

GEORGIA TECH -2.5 vs. Wake Forest
Wake Forest is out of their element here. The yellow jackets win this game rather easily.

ARKANSAS +3 vs. Florida
I will continue to bet against Florida. They are an ordinary team. McFadden is the best player in college.

NFL games

CHARGERS -6 @ Buffalo
I usually love home dogs, but the Chargers are simply too good.

NY GIANTS +3.5 vs. Dallas
I love this game. The Giants are so bad. The Cowboys are so good. That was last week and things change quickly in the NFL.

BROWNS +5.5 vs. Chiefs
Cleveland was awful last week. They do defend the pass well and will shut down KC. Johnson will still have his way, but this game will be close.