The poobahs of college football should be congratulated. As players, coaches, and fans discussed the ramifications of Cal's 26-16 win over Southern Mississippi for the Bears' bowl options and the 16-hour wait from game's end to Sunday's BCS results - it's clear that all of the concerns about bias and decision making have turned college football into figure skating. All that's missing is a couch and Dick Button.

"> The poobahs of college football should be congratulated. As players, coaches, and fans discussed the ramifications of Cal's 26-16 win over Southern Mississippi for the Bears' bowl options and the 16-hour wait from game's end to Sunday's BCS results - it's clear that all of the concerns about bias and decision making have turned college football into figure skating. All that's missing is a couch and Dick Button.

">

Cal beats Southern Mississippi 26-16, now waits

<p class="txt">The poobahs of college football should be congratulated. As players, coaches, and fans discussed the ramifications of Cal's 26-16 win over Southern Mississippi for the Bears' bowl options and the 16-hour wait from game's end to Sunday's BCS results - it's clear that all of the concerns about bias and decision making have turned college football into figure skating. All that's missing is a couch and Dick Button.</p>

Hattiesburg - With Rose Bowl prospects on the line and in front of a boisterous crowd of 27,480, the #4 California Golden Bears fought off a stiff challenge from Southern Mississippi on Saturday to win a nerve-wracking 26-16 game.  J.J. Arrington had one of the great games in Cal football history, running for 261 yards in 31 carries, as the Bears piled up 546 yards of total offense - yet the Golden Eagles' Dustin Almond was able to exploit the Bear secondary for several long gains allowing Southern Miss to stay close.

Almond scored on a one-yard run with 5:56 left in the game to close Cal's advantage to one at 17-16.  On the point after, Thomas DeCoud blocked the kick, which was picked up by Wendell Hunter at the 15 yard line. Hunter raced downfield while being pursued by two Eagle defenders. Cal's Harrison Smith raced up to the trio, caught them deep in Southern Miss territory, cut in front of the Eagles Wayne Hardy, taking him out of the play and then blocking Eddie Willingham just enough to give Hunter the space he needed to score. California was awarded two points on the play, and instead of a tied game, the Bears found themselves leading 19-16.

"I was fortunate that Thomas got in to make the play," said Hunter, who also had nine tackles on the evening. "I didn't know how close the defenders were but I was fine. We do a lot of conditioning work.

On the following drive - the Bears put together a backbreaking three-play, 80-yard drive that featured a 56-yard run by Arrington, and a 12-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch.

Arrington, who now has 1,845 yards for the year and a reasonable chance of reaching 2,000 yards, has previously demurred comment on the Heisman. But as the season draws to a close and his mounting body of work becomes more impressive with each passing day, he understood the need to speak up.

"I've been humbled all year by [the Heisman Trophy]," said Arrington who had 70 family members come from North Carolina to watch him play college football in person for the first time.. "I don't know what else I have to do. I'm the only back who's gained 100 yards in every game, and there are a lot of good players around me."

Lynch scored on another one his mind bending runs - taking the ball from the 12, he headed up the middle going slightly to the left. As USM lineman Robert Henderson began pursuit, Lynch cut inside of him. Defensive back Yamil Ortega had the next chance, but as he dove to tackle Lynch, the freshman from Oakland Tech easily raced past him, leaving the defender with an armful of air.

"The offensive line blocked everyone left, and I ran right," said Lynch, who had five carries for 40 yards and had 93 all purpouse yards in eight touches. His touchdown put the Bears up 26-16; the only question left was the extent to which the Bears would be tempted to run up the score.

Arrington nearly added another touchdown a few minutes later on a spectacular 33-yard run where he bounced off a couple of defenders, and while falling, spun once, used his hand to right his balance, then pushed himself up and raced past the defense for a touchdown that could have pushed Bears up to a 16-point lead. Yet the play was partially nullified because of a clipping call on Cal, a call that TV replays later showed to be incorrect. Shortly after that, the Bears decided to take a knee on the Southern Mississippi 22.

With the uncertainty surrounding Cal and Texas in the coaches in both polls and the computer ranking, the question was asked if the Golden Bears missed out on a chance to strengthen their case for potential fence-sitting poll voters by passing up a chance to run up the score.

"I have great respect for Coach [Jeff] Bower, and assumed that if they were in the same situation he would do the same thing," said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "At that point the game was really over, and I don't see anything that comes out of that. We have tremendous respect for one another as coaches, and that's the way this profession should be. We should respect each other and not try to make each other look bad."

California came into the game with a narrow .0014 point lead over the BCS #5 Texas Longhorns.  With each play and each score, the question of whether the Bears were doing enough to preserve their #4 BCS ranking could be asked. Would poll voters be looking for a 14-point win, a 21-point win, a 40-point win, or even just a win? 

"We've had 10 wins and those should speak for itself," said Tedford. "We had one loss to the #1-ranked team in the country. I really hope this works our way...Last night in the message to the team there was a lot of talk this week about this being a big game. But every game we've played this year has been a big game and we play together and believe in each other, we can do anything."

And so the wait continues until Sunday afternoon as the Bears await the BCS results - for a possible berth in either the Rose Bowl or the Holiday Bowl. Is it actually possible that the Bears could drop a spot despite beating a bowl team on the road?


©Copyright 2004, TheBearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nationwide Scout network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.


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Hattiesburg - With Rose Bowl prospects on the line and in front of a boisterous crowd of 27,480, the #4 California Golden Bears fought off a stiff challenge from Southern Mississippi on Saturday to win a nerve-wracking 26-16 game.  J.J. Arrington had one of the great games in Cal football history, running for 261 yards in 31 carries, as the Bears piled up 546 yards of total offense - yet the Golden Eagles' Dustin Almond was able to exploit the Bear secondary for several long gains allowing Southern Miss to stay close.

Almond scored on a one-yard run with 5:56 left in the game to close Cal's advantage to one at 17-16.  On the point after, Thomas DeCoud blocked the kick, which was picked up by Wendell Hunter at the 15 yard line. Hunter raced downfield while being pursued by two Eagle defenders. Cal's Harrison Smith raced up to the trio, caught them deep in Southern Miss territory, cut in front of the Eagles Wayne Hardy, taking him out of the play and then blocking Eddie Willingham just enough to give Hunter the space he needed to score. California was awarded two points on the play, and instead of a tied game, the Bears found themselves leading 19-16.

"I was fortunate that Thomas got in to make the play," said Hunter, who also had nine tackles on the evening. "I didn't know how close the defenders were but I was fine. We do a lot of conditioning work.

On the following drive - the Bears put together a backbreaking three-play, 80-yard drive that featured a 56-yard run by Arrington, and a 12-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch.

Arrington, who now has 1,845 yards for the year and a reasonable chance of reaching 2,000 yards, has previously demurred comment on the Heisman. But as the season draws to a close and his mounting body of work becomes more impressive with each passing day, he understood the need to speak up.

"I've been humbled all year by [the Heisman Trophy]," said Arrington who had 70 family members come from North Carolina to watch him play college football in person for the first time.. "I don't know what else I have to do. I'm the only back who's gained 100 yards in every game, and there are a lot of good players around me."

Lynch scored on another one his mind bending runs - taking the ball from the 12, he headed up the middle going slightly to the left. As USM lineman Robert Henderson began pursuit, Lynch cut inside of him. Defensive back Yamil Ortega had the next chance, but as he dove to tackle Lynch, the freshman from Oakland Tech easily raced past him, leaving the defender with an armful of air.

"The offensive line blocked everyone left, and I ran right," said Lynch, who had five carries for 40 yards and had 93 all purpouse yards in eight touches. His touchdown put the Bears up 26-16; the only question left was the extent to which the Bears would be tempted to run up the score.

Arrington nearly added another touchdown a few minutes later on a spectacular 33-yard run where he bounced off a couple of defenders, and while falling, spun once, used his hand to right his balance, then pushed himself up and raced past the defense for a touchdown that could have pushed Bears up to a 16-point lead. Yet the play was partially nullified because of a clipping call on Cal, a call that TV replays later showed to be incorrect. Shortly after that, the Bears decided to take a knee on the Southern Mississippi 22.

With the uncertainty surrounding Cal and Texas in the coaches in both polls and the computer ranking, the question was asked if the Golden Bears missed out on a chance to strengthen their case for potential fence-sitting poll voters by passing up a chance to run up the score.

"I have great respect for Coach [Jeff] Bower, and assumed that if they were in the same situation he would do the same thing," said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "At that point the game was really over, and I don't see anything that comes out of that. We have tremendous respect for one another as coaches, and that's the way this profession should be. We should respect each other and not try to make each other look bad."

California came into the game with a narrow .0014 point lead over the BCS #5 Texas Longhorns.  With each play and each score, the question of whether the Bears were doing enough to preserve their #4 BCS ranking could be asked. Would poll voters be looking for a 14-point win, a 21-point win, a 40-point win, or even just a win? 

"We've had 10 wins and those should speak for itself," said Tedford. "We had one loss to the #1-ranked team in the country. I really hope this works our way...Last night in the message to the team there was a lot of talk this week about this being a big game. But every game we've played this year has been a big game and we play together and believe in each other, we can do anything."

And so the wait continues until Sunday afternoon as the Bears await the BCS results - for a possible berth in either the Rose Bowl or the Holiday Bowl. Is it actually possible that the Bears could drop a spot despite beating a bowl team on the road?


©Copyright 2004, TheBearInsider.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

If you haven't done so already, subscribe to The Bear Insider so you can participate in this online community and get access to the members-only content from the nationwide Scout network.

Bear Insider staff writers visit the Insider discussion board regularly, and are available to discuss questions you may have about this article and Cal Athletics.

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