California will kick off its 114th season of football at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5, against Maryland at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. The contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
The Golden Bears begin a promising 2009 campaign looking to extend current streaks of seven straight winning seasons, six consecutive post-season appearances and four bowl victories in a row – the latter two school records.
In the first seven seasons under head coach Jeff Tedford, the Bears’ 59-30 record is their best seven-year stretch in nearly a century since a seven-year run under legendary head coach Andy Smith when the Wonder Teams posted a 57-4-5 mark from 1918-24. The team’s 59 wins over the past seven seasons are also the second most in the Pac 10 behind USC.
Enthusiasm for the 2009 season is high in Berkeley with the Golden Bears featuring one of the nation’s top Heisman Trophy candidates in junior tailback Jahvid Best and an experienced starting quarterback in junior Kevin Riley. A total of four players have earned preseason All-American honors and been named to national watch lists: Best senior defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, sophomore punter Bryan Anger and senior defensive back Syd’Quan Thompson.
The team’s defense returns eight of 11 starters, including its entire defensive line and defensive backfield, from a year ago. All told, Cal has 17 starters back with seven on offense and two specialists accompanying the eight on defense.
Cal Ranked No. 12 Nationally
Cal heads into the 2009 campaign ranked No. 12 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ preseason polls. Since Jeff Tedford took over as head coach in 2002, the only time the Bears were rated higher in the preseason by AP came in 2006 when Cal was listed at No. 9. The Bears were also ranked 12th by AP in 2007, while they were voted 12th by the coaches twice previously, before the 2003 and 2006 campaigns.
Cal has an all-time record of 70-39-4 in season-openers and has won its first contest of the season in four of the last five years. Jeff Tedford is 5-2 in season-openers as the Bears’ head coach and has never lost a season-opener at home, sporting a 4-0 mark in those contests – 2002 (70-22 vs. Baylor), 2005 (41-3 vs. Sacramento State), 2007 (45-31 vs. Tennessee) and 2008 (38-31 vs. Michigan State).
Cal-Maryland Series Notes
Cal and Maryland met for the first time last year when the Terps came up with a 35-27 victory on Sept. 13, 2008, in College Park, Maryland. The loss was the first of the campaign for Cal after it had opened the season with two victories. Kevin Riley’s 423 yards in the air were the fourth-most ever by a Cal player, while his 58 attempts (33 completions) set a school record.
2009 Training Camp A Success
California conducted 24 practice sessions over 23 days during a successful 2009 training camp that culminated with approximately 5,000 fans attending Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, Aug. 29. The line to get an autograph from junior tailback Jahvid Best extended nearly 140 yards at its peak.
Fans are encouraged to “Be True, Wear Blue” for the Blue Out of the season-opener against Maryland at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5. For more information, visit CalBears.com/blueout.
Cal Picked Second In Pac 10 Preseason Media Poll
California has been picked to finish second in the 2009 Pac 10 preseason poll of media members who regularly cover the league for the fifth time in the last six years. USC was the media’s preseason choice to win the conference title for an eighth consecutive season (Cal shared the conference crown in 2006). The Trojans were listed in the top spot by 28 of the 32 voters participating in the poll, while Cal claimed three of the four other first-place votes. Oregon (one first-place vote) was picked third and followed by Oregon State, Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, Washington and Washington State.
Cal players have received multiple honors prior to the 2009 season. The first-team preseason All-American selections of Bryan Anger, Jahvid Best and Syd’Quan Thompson highlight the list, while Tyson Alualu was an honorable mention preseason All-American choice. All four are also on preseason watch lists for various awards. A list of compiled 2009 honors is in the box on this page.
Ron Largent’s knowledge and predictions are based on extensive background reading and his love of the game. He is a Realtor, business owner and longtime Redding resident. He can be reached at email@example.com or ronlargent.yourkwagent.com.