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Football: Will schedule toughen or ruin Bears?

Will a treacherous nonconference schedule prepare the Cal football team for rough waters in the Pac-12 Conference or send its season into the rocks?

Cal fans will not like the answer history suggests.

The Golden Bears kick off their schedule Saturday night against No. 22 Northwestern in coach Sonny Dykes’ debut at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. for a game the nation will watch on ESPN2.

Another Big Ten heavyweight looms in two weeks when No. 2 Ohio State visits Berkeley. Then, after a week off, the Bears open conference play at No. 3 Oregon — the first of five ranked Pac-12 teams Cal will face.

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LOADING UP IN NONCONFERENCE

Cal is 2-19 in games played when it’s faced two (or more) Top-25 opponents during the nonconference portion of its schedule:

— 1953: lost 25-0 at home to No. 20 Baylor; lost 33-19 at home to No. 6 Ohio State; won 40-0 on the road vs. No. 20 Penn. Final season record: 4-4-2.

— 1954: lost 27-13 at home to No. 2 Oklahoma; lost 21-13 on the road to No. 14 Ohio State. Final season record: 5-5.

— 1959: lost 42-12 at home to No. 13 Iowa; lost 33-0 on the road to No. 10 Texas. Final season record: 2-8.

— 1961: lost 28-3 at home to No. 4 Texas; lost 28-7 on the road to No. 1 Iowa. Final season record: 1-8-1.

— 1965: lost 48-3 at home to No. 3 Notre Dame; lost 10-7 on the road to No. 4 Michigan. Final season record: 5-5.

— 1969: lost 17-0 at home to No. 4 Texas; won 17-14 on the road vs. No. 10 Indiana. Final season record: 5-5.

— 1971: lost 51-20 in Little Rock, Ark., to No. 7 Arkansas; lost 35-3 on the road to No. 14 Ohio State. Final season record: 6-5.

— 1972: lost 20-10 on the road to No. 2 Colorado; lost 35-18 at home to No. 3 Ohio State. Final season record: 3-8.

— 1976: lost 36-24 on the road to No. 16 Georgia; lost 28-17 on the road to No. 4 Oklahoma. Final season record: 5-6. 

— 1999: lost 45-0 on the road vs. No. 5 Nebraska; lost 38-28 on the rod vs. No. 24 BYU. Final season record: 4-7 (later changed to 0-11 after forfeits).

 

Jeff Faraudo