Football: How much will history matter Saturday? Or, how long since Top-5 nonconference win?

They are questions worth pondering for a moment.

Yes, this is a new Cal football team with a new coach, so what the Golden Bears have — or have not — done in the past perhaps has no direct influence on what might happen Saturday against No. 4 Ohio State.

On the other hand, can a virtual mountain of history easily be dismissed?

Which leads us to this staggering fact: Cal has not won a nonconference game against a Top-5 team since . . . get ready . . . Jan. 1, 1938.

Honest. You could look it up. I did.

That’s more than 75 years ago. FDR was president in 1938, gasoline was 10 cents a gallon, Hitler was Time magazine’s Man of the Year (no kidding!) and DC Comics introduced the world to Superman.

Zoom ahead to Saturday, and Cal’s game against the Buckeyes will be played against this daunting backdrop: The Bears have lost 18 consecutive nonconference games vs. Top-5 teams.

The opponents include Miami, Colorado (in 1972 before joining the Pac-12), Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska (twice), Oklahoma (twice), Notre Dame (twice), Iowa (twice), Michigan State (twice) and Texas (three times).

The Bears’ most recent — and only — win over a nonconference Top-5 team was its 13-0 shutout of No. 4 Alabama in the 1938 Rose Bowl. Cal entered that game as the nation’s second-ranked team.

So you’re wondering, what is Cal’s record against Top-5 teams from within the Pac-12?

Well, it’s a little better, but still feeble. Cal is 4-50 all-time against Top-5 competition, meaning it has a record of 3-32 against teams ranked that high from within the conference.

The Bears’ most recent win against any Top-5 team: Their 34-31 triple-overtime conquest of No. 3 USC in 2003. That aside, you have to go back to 1975 to find one. And 1951 to find one before that.

 How much will this mean to Jared Goff and Bryce Treggs and Stefan McClure when they walk onto the field Saturday afternoon?

Probably not a thing. They are free to write their own history. 

But 75 years constitutes a trend by any measure, and one that may not easily be reversed.

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Jeff Faraudo