So why is the Palouse such a tough place for Cal to play? It’s an interesting question. But, obviously, since there have been 10 games up there, nine in Pullman and one in Spokane, since 1979, none of which Cal has won, it is a valid question.
Remember the 1996 game? Cal was rolling along, Pat Barnes at quarterback, when the Bears lined up for an evening game in the Palouse. Just as the referees were ready to signal for the kickoff, it started snowing hard. The place went nuts. Washington State’s players seemed to get a charge of it. The Bears were in a funk and they fell behind early.
Eventually, Cal did start rolling and it was in position to win the game late. In the closing minute, Pat Barnes fumbled at Washington State’s 2 and that was it. Another loss.
When I told coach Tedford the other day that Cal hadn’t won in the Palouse since 1979, he didn’t know about the streak. “Is that verified?” he asked. Well, yeah.
One of the things that makes Tedford and staff special is that they open their arms to challenges. Individiual games take on themes. Anything to challenge the players to focus more than ever before.
Some teams are handicapped by challenges. They get the “here we go again” mentality. Remember past Cal teams when playing the University of Washington. They were waiting for the other shoe to drop. That is no longer the case.
Kyle Boller’s senior year of 2002, Cal hadn’t won in the state of Washington since 1976. Streak over. Cal hadn’t beaten Stanford in seven years. Streak over. Cal hadn’t beaten ranked team on the road in a long time. Streak over.
Tedford and company now faces another dubious streak. Their ability to focus will keep them in the Rose Bowl chase. If they get caught up in streaks or ghosts of the past, They will sink.
This Washington State team is very good. It does things — the nation’s top sack attack — that should give Cal fits. But the bottom line is that Cal appears to be the more talented team. Cal fans will keep their fingers crossed, and hope they can say,