The Bears were reunited after three days off tonight for a full practice at Memorial Stadium. Usually, Sunday nights are reserved for a short conditioning practice, but Cal got a head start on the Big Game because of the bye week.
Coach Jeff Tedford has been generally pleased with his team’s attitude and morale since its disappointing loss at Washington. He said the team practiced very well before parting ways before Thanksgiving and it carried into today.
Of course, the big question is how the Bears will respond now, seeing as the stakes are no longer high. It might be a good thing that Cal is playing Stanford this week, because both teams usually are motivated to play the Big Game no matter how each team’s season is going.
Cal’s bowl possibilities became clearer over the weekend. The Armed Forces Bowl on New Year’s Even in Forth Worth, Texas is looking like the most likely scenario. There is no way the Bears can finish in the top five in the Pac-10, so the Emerald Bowl or Las Vegas Bowl are almost certainly out. The only exception is if two conference teams make it to a BCS game — for instance, USC goes to the Rose Bowl and Arizona State gets a bid to the Fiesta Bowl — that would move everyone else in the Pac-10 pecking order up a slot. In that case, it’s probably almost a certainty Cal would go to the Emerald Bowl (that’s if the Bears beat Stanford). But ASU is ranked 13th in the lastest BCS standings and a lot would have to likely happen for the Sun Devils to slip into a BCS game.
Cal currently is in seventh, but if it beats Stanford and Arizona loses to Arizona State, it will move into a tie for sixth and likely get the Armed Forces Bowl berth. If the Bears were to lose to Stanford, they would finish 6-6 and tied with Washington State for seventh in the Pac-10. That might make their chances to get an at-large berth to an out-of-conference bowl game a little more dicey.
A couple of notes from today’s practice:
–Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who suffered a thigh contusion against Washington and was held out of most action last week, practiced more Sunday. Tedford said Jackson should play Saturday.
–Defensive end Rulon Davis, who has missed the past three games with a sprained knee, has returned to practice and looks like he will play as well.
–Some of Cal’s seniors that don’t usually start are getting first reps in practice, meaning they will probably start against Stanford in their final regular season game.