Welcome back to the road trip. We're taking a week-by-week look at the entire Pac-12 schedule and picking out the game we feel is the marquee game of the week. If you have the time and means, this is the game you want to see.
Thursday Oct 18
Oregon at Arizona State
Saturday Oct. 20
Washington at Arizona
Colorado at USC
Utah at Oregon State
Stanford at California
My choice: We're Big Gaming -- in October, no less.
Why? Why? You ask why? Because it's the Big Freaking Game! In October, no less. And in brand spanking new Memorial Stadium, which I can attest after touring it this spring is going to be fairly righteous.
Further, the Bay Area in mid-October is pretty righteous, too. If you review our Best Restaurants & Bars in the Pac-12 here, you can get some good ideas for kicking it around Berkeley. If you want to run into me before the game -- and, you know, give me a piece of your mind (and if you went to Cal or Stanford, I'd take it) -- it's become nearly impossible for me to avoid this place on game day. I don't eat a lot of hot dogs, but Top Dog just isn't fair. Bring the dog up to the Bear's Lair, the on-campus pub, to soak up some local color.
As for the night before, my suggestion is to call this place on Sept. 20. You can make reservations at Chez Panisse up to one month in advance, and my sad, sad experience is you probably will need it to eat at one of the landmark U.S. restaurants. If the hoity-toity stuff isn't your bag, Berkeley is overbrimming with outstanding cheap eats. Right now, a bunch of Cal fans are jumping up and down chanting Zachary's Pizza, which is quite good, but I'm not sure you shouldn't go ethnic, because the choices and range of flavors around campus are pretty extraordinary -- including this.
Oh, and then there's this little football game, which comes at a critical time for both programs.
Stanford is trying to prove it can excel post-Andrew Luck. Another top-25 season also would put distance between coach David Shaw and the shadow of former coach Jim Harbaugh. And continued dominance in the Bay Area is at stake.
Over at Cal, coach Jeff Tedford is trying to win back the confidence of his fanbase, and he enters the season sitting on a fairly warm seat. After winning seven of his first eight Big Games, he's lost two in a row and watched the Cardinal play in a pair of BCS bowl games and finish ranked in the top 10.
Just about everyone projects Stanford as the North Division's No. 2 team behind Oregon. It obviously would be far more likely the Bears could eclipse the Cardinal for that spot with a win here. Fair to say that Tedford could really use a win, instead of a third straight Big Game defeat inside his remodeled stadium.
The Big Game is always a big game, but it might just be a little bigger this season. In October, no less.