As Cal looks to take on Stanford in what will be the 126th Big Game, it brings us all one step closer to the end of the Pac-12.
In the words of Cal’s star running back, Jaydn Ott, “RIP Pac-12.”
I could not have said it any better.
It is unfortunate that this year’s senior class, myself included, was robbed of witnessing a winning season in the Pac-12. But none of that matters when it’s time to play Stanford because the Big Game is our Super Bowl, and no one can tell me otherwise.
There is no better feeling than beating down on your all-time rival, and the last four years have been just that. Cal has won three out of the four previous matchups, and if any Cardinal fan wants to bring up the all-time record, all I have to say is that I don’t care for old news.
Nonetheless, the Big Game is always a classic, and each one is guaranteed to bring a dramatic twist.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned from being a Cal fan, it’s that hope is a dangerous thing. If you have hope, you have already lost half the battle.
At this point in the season, being 4-6, all I have left is hope for the Bears to reach a bowl game. With two remaining games on their schedule, they must win out if they have any desire to extend their season. If the stars fail to align and Cal manages to drop a game, please let it be to UCLA. I will not be able to peacefully graduate knowing that Cal fumbled its final Big Game to Stanford as a member of the Pac-12.
However, as both teams are transitioning into the ACC, not only will the Big Game continue, it will continue as conference opponents.
Looking at the current state of the team, I’m intrigued to see what next season will hold. I wonder how much longer Cal head coach Justin Wilcox will have a job if he brings home his fifth losing season in just seven years. After fiddling around with quarterbacks all year, redshirt freshman Fernando Mendoza finally became Wilcox’s starter.
After Mendoza took over the starting quarterback job, he single-handedly made watching Cal football much more enjoyable. He’s not going to “wow” you with his numbers, but he makes the winning plays and shows a level of passion that I haven’t seen a Cal quarterback possess in years.
Forget Mendoza’s 1-4 record as a starter, he is the future of Cal football and his journey to solidify himself begins Saturday.
I also think the way these last two games play out for Cal will sway Ott’s decision to stay or to transfer. In his sophomore campaign, Ott has set new career highs with 1,014 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns — all with two games remaining on the schedule. He also sits in second place for most rushing yards in the Pac-12 and is tied for third in rushing touchdowns.
It’s pretty clear that Cal should do everything and anything to keep its NFL-bound running back.
Finishing out the season with their third straight Big Game win will provide the Bears momentum as they head to the ACC. The Pac-12 has undoubtedly been one of the top conferences in all of college football, and with the challenges it has posed, Cal has the experience to be competitive in its new conference.
It is truly the end of an era. Thank you to the Pac-12 for providing a home for the Bears and thank you to Cal for giving us some all-time moments.
Now go and win the last Pac-12 Big Game and retain the Axe.