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Buffs remember Berkeley beat down

9/6/2011

It was an epic thrashing.

It was 31-zip at halftime. After Colorado scored its lone touchdown in the third quarter, California added three in the fourth.

Final tally: Cal 52, Colorado 7.

If you want to know why many Pac-10 fans don't think much of the Buffaloes entry into the Pac-12, it's that single game.

"It just seemed like everything that could go wrong, did go wrong," Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen said. "It was... bad."

He's right, starting with the three picks Hansen threw. Or how Cal's defensive line abused the Buffs offensive line, most shockingly whipping all-everything tackle Nate Solder a number of times.

New Colorado coach Jon Embree wasn't around for this bludgeoning, but the lost weekend in Berkeley is one of the reasons he's in Boulder now.

"That was one of the first things I heard about when I got hired here, about the Cal game, from our fans and from our players," he said.

Of course, one game doesn't define a team or a season. Cal looked like a physically dominant outfit in that outing, but four games later USC stomped the Bears 48-14.

Was that indicative of Cal's talent? Or just a horrible game? What about Cal's 35-7 loss to Oregon State? If any team in the Pac-12 should know about the vagaries of each Saturday, it should be Cal.

But Hansen said he isn't sure the Buffs will have the Bears' respect when they visit on Saturday.

"We talked about that in our meeting yesterday," Hansen said. "They think they are going to come in here -- yeah, they beat us by 45 points last year -- but they think they are going to come in here and do it again."

Maybe. Cal is coming off an impressive win over Fresno State, while the Buffs extended their road losing streak to 19 games at Hawaii. New Cal QB Zach Maynard shook off a first-drive interception and played well, and the Bears defense dominated the Bulldogs. The Buffs? It seemed like it took an entire half to wake up at Hawaii. Particularly disappointing was the play of the offensive line, which got pushed around.

"Up front, those guys need to get after it a lot better," Hansen said. "I think they were kind of lackadaisical up there. They need to get that mentality of being physical and getting after guys."

Over at Cal, coach Jeff Tedford said, "We haven't even talked about last year's game... We're going to have our hands full. We can't think about last year."

Another level of intrigue -- or just strangeness. This is a game between Pac-12 teams but it doesn't count in the Pac-12 standings. It was scheduled before expansion and will remain a nonconference game.

That really has nothing to do with preparation but, as Embree noted, "It is weird, though."

If there is one obvious area of concern for Cal, it would be Maynard making his first road start in an A-list venue. Folsom Field seats 53,000. Maynard's previous toughest road start came in 2009 at Central Florida in front of 33,000 when he was the starting QB for Buffalo. Further, Boulder's elevation -- 5,430 feet -- often taxes a visiting foe that lives closer to sea level.

For Cal, the game is all about this year. It's a little different for Colorado.

Said Hansen, "I think having last year's game in the back of our minds will help a lot."