Risk vs. Reward

One of the compelling questions about Saturday’s game is whether it’s worth it to play such a highly regarded opponent in your season opener. Obviously, a win can create a boost of momentum moving forward and establish the Bears as a legitimate BCS contender. But just one loss can be so damaging in the current landscape of college football, even if it is to a quality opponent.

Of course, last year’s loss to Tennessee didn’t hurt Cal too much. The Bears rebounded with eight straight wins and were in position to reach the Rose Bowl had they taken care of business at Arizona. But teams who consider the national championship a realistic goal can’t afford a loss at any time, against any opponent.

Here’s Jeff Tedford’s take:
“It’s high risk, and I don’t know that there’s that much reward because the risk probably outweighs it. There’s still a long season there ahead of you. It’s definitelyi a different approach playing a top-20 team like Tennessee, who is a traditional top-10 team. It really tests you right out of the game.
“I think if you win and then you weren’t successful the next week, they would forget about that. If you don’t win, that stays with you for a long time. At least it did last year. Even if you win this game, you still have to win next week. If you don’t win next week, they’re going to forget about this week.”

A couple of other opinions:
–Right tackle Mike Tepper: “There is a risk and there’s a reward. It gives us a peak at what top-20 teams are all about. I wish we could play opponents that are a little easier for us to give us that confidence. But it’s definitely a challenge and it’s exciting.”
–Linebacker Anthony Felder: “It doesn’t really matter to me. I’ve been playing football my whole life. You can’t really put more emphasis on Tennesee because they are a top-15 team than you put on Colorado State or Louisiana Tech (the next two opponents). You have to respect your opponent equally because on any given day you can get beat by any team.”

Jonathan Okanes

Jonathan Okanes is in his fourth year covering Cal's football team. Previously, he covered Cal's men's basketball team for four years. He can also be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/OkanesonCal.

  • Brandon

    Could you post some information about Kyle Reed’s transfer?

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    I think it’s simple.

    If you want to be the best you have to play the best. SEC teams are notorious for playing the patsies in preseason. Last year we played Arkansas, this year we play Nebraska. Every year we play Notre Dame and frankly we would play any and all including the SEC teams.

    Also if you want to showcase your talent then play the best. It does no good to play against Sac States and Portland States. Your stars in order to win Heismans have to shine against the very best.

  • LaughingBear

    like opening against IDAHO,

    right moreNCS?

  • gobearsgo

    Jonathan, thanks for the increased coverage! I’m concerned about the depth on the lines. At DE, it looks like some young guys are ready to make an impact and provide depth. But at DT, it looks pretty scary behind the starters. Any thoughts? Is Alualu just better suited at DE?

    And how has the 2nd team OL looked? Will they be able to hold up if called upon?

  • Jonathan Okanes

    Gobearsgo, I agree with you about the defensive line. I think it’s the biggest question mark facing the team as the season begins. Rulon Davis is a wild card. Athletically, he is amazing. But he’s still rather new to the game. That being said, he made substantial strides during the spring and fall camp. I’m not sure if defensive coordinator Bob Gregory expected Davis to earn a starting spot when the fall began, but Davis was impressive in the first scrimmage of camp and that’s really what put him over the top.
    As far as Alualu goes, basically Cal just needs him on the outside. He got reps at both DT and DE during camp. I think Gregory feels things are pretty solid with Matt Malele and Mika Kane in the middle, and guys like Cody Jones and Tad Smith maybe just aren’t ready yet. So that’s why Alualu will stay on the end.
    I’m really interested to see how Cameron Jordan performs. He’s an athletic marvel with the movement he displays at his size. He probably needs to get a little stronger, but he may be too quick for some offensive tackles.