O/NSO - Cal edition

The BCS highway to New Orleans, currently open for undefeated travelers, finds the third-ranked USC Trojans (3-0) gassed and ready to go for a drive beginning Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, California, as the Trojans open Pac-10 play against the California Bears (2-3) at Memorial Stadium.

The Obvious – The BCS highway to New Orleans, currently open for undefeated travelers, finds the third-ranked USC Trojans (3-0) gassed and ready to go for a drive beginning Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, California, as the Trojans open Pac-10 play against the California Bears (2-3) at Memorial Stadium.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans' map of four road games in the next five outings is fraught with danger, and Cal coach Jeff Tedford presents USC, a 13-point favorite, with a formidable coaching obstacle, an obstacle one preseason magazine calls the possible upset game of the entire Pac-10 season.

The Obvious – Trojan fans love making the annual trip to NorCal, and this is especially true when it comes to visiting the Bears, for the Trojans' winning record playing in Berkeley is 29-12-1.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans have won 6 of the past 8 games played in Strawberry Canyon by an average score of 30-19.

The Obvious – With the Trojans 11-game winning streak, the nation's second longest, the old USC intimidation factor might again be rearing its lovely head.

The Not So Obvious – Cal coach Jeff Tedford is aware of that possibility. Of the Trojans intimidation factor, Tedford said, "I hope that's not the case. That's why you go to play Kansas State. If we didn't play Kansas State, you could say we haven't been there. So that we play USC and Washington and the big stadiums and we go and play Illinois, the experiences help us."

The Obvious – The national media has called Trojan coach Pete Carroll many things including defensive genius, recruiting fireball, and the hottest coach in college football.

The Not So Obvious – Cal coach Tedford has a unique perspective of Carroll. Tedford says, "Pete Carroll is a football guy – a football junkie. I think the NFL made him that way."

The Obvious – Saturday's game will be played at venerable Memorial Stadium, which seats 73, 347 and has been hosting events since 1923.

The Not So Obvious – The old stadium has gotten some needed help over the years, and this year presents the Momentum Turf System at a cost of $975,000. Funded by private donations, this is the second time that Memorial Stadium has featured an artificial playing surface, which should make the fleet Trojan football team appear Olympic speed.

The Obvious – Much of Saturday's game will depend how the Trojans take advantage of a Cal defense that has allowed 418.4 yards per game, which includes giving up 158.4 per outing on the ground.

The Not So Obvious – "It comes down to getting off the field on third down on defense and getting our opportunities on offense," informed Coach Tedford. If Tedford has a fear of the Trojan offense, it should be the fact that Troy scores 90.9% in the red zone.

The Obvious – One of the lost arts in college football is the enjoyable "card stunts", which when done correctly really adds to a halftime show.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans in attendance Saturday will get to see a time-honored event at halftime up at Memorial Stadium as the Bears' rooting section entertains with some traditional card stunts, something that has taken place since at Cal since 1910. Up to 10 different stunts and over 5,000 cards are used several times during the season.

The Obvious – The Trojans will attack the Bears with offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who is slowly turning sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart into another one of his proteges, a list which includes the likes of Carson Palmer, Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, and Steve Young.

The Not So Obvious – In his coaching career, Cal's Jeff Tedord has developed five college quarterbacks into first-round selection in the NFL draft including last year's Kyle Boller, who joins Joey Harrington, David Carr, Akili Smith, and Trent Dilfer.

The Obvious – Saturday's game will pair two first-year sophomore starting quarterbacks in Troy's Matt Leinart and Cal's Aaron Rodgers.

The Not So Obvious - While Leinart gained notoriety as a prep All-American quarterback out of Santa Ana Mater Dei. Rogers gained his fame as a JC All-American at Butte College after a prep career at Pleasant Valley High in Chico, where he was a two-time all-section choice and passed for a combined 4,419 yards during his junior and senior seasons.

The Obvious – Much of Cal's offense will revolve on how Aaron Rogers handles the difficult task of trying to deliver his passes as the new Wild Bunch challenges him.

The Not So Obvious – In Cal's road win at Illinois, Rogers threw for 263 yards (20 of 37) and one score. Rogers has drawn some high praise during recent telecasts.

The Obvious – The mark of an exceptional team is winning on the road, and the Trojans have won their last five road games.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans average winning score in the past five road games is an astounding 41-17, a stat that should be of large concern for the Cal Bears.

The Obvious - The Trojans feature one of the fastest teams in the nation, an advantage that is hard to coach against and simulate in practice.

The Not So Obvious – The Cal Bears are very aware of the Trojans' speed and took future measures last recruiting season when no less than 10 Cal recruits were clocked in 4.5 seconds or faster in the 40-yard dash.

The Obvious – Running back Coach Kennedy Pola rotated a number of Trojan running backs in the first three games and found that each has provided a positive performance.

The Not So Obvious – This season, Cal running back coach Ron Gould found two running backs in one in starter Joe Echema, who rushed for 70 yards and one score at Illinois, and reclaimed his original African-given name of Adimchinobe Echemandu.

The Obvious – The Trojans defensive line appears to be getting even better as junior tackle Shaun Cody has been flashing the form that made him such a stalwart his freshman year.

The Not So Obvious – The Bears defense has their own version of Cody in junior tackle Lorenzo Alexander (6-3,295) from Berkeley, who was a sophomore All-Pac-10 honorable mention and a Best in the West selection coming out of St.Mary's High School. Alexander, who reportedly runs the 40 in 4.8, will challenge the cultivating Trojan running game.

The Obvious – Seeing a game at Berkeley on a clear day, one can actually see the beautiful San Francisco Bay to the west.

The Not So Obvious – For decades, fans that don't want to pay to see the game climb up Tightwad Hill, which is above the northeast corner of Memorial Stadium. As they say, on a clear day you can see forever.

The Obvious – The return of wide receiver Keary Colbert from "decoy " to prime target will be needed against the Bears, who figure to double-up on Mike Williams.

The Not So Obvious – Cal will showcase their own receiving threat in former Palisades star Geoff McArthur (6-1, 200), who had 155 yards on 16 receptions and a 14-yard TD pass from quarterback Aaron Rogers against Illinois. The Bears fourth-leading receiver last season, McArthur is Palisades High's all-time leading receiver.

The Obvious – After a slow start, it appears spring ball sensation Justin Wyatt may indeed become a factor for the Trojans' passing game.

The Not So Obvious – Cal thinks they have a star in senior receiver Jonathan Makonnen (6-0, 175) from Menlo Park, who works out with future Hall of Famer Jerry Rice during the off-season. In Tedford's potent offense last week against Illinois, Makonnen had 4 receptions for 68 yards.

The Obvious – One player on the Trojan offense who has been a consistant help since the injury to fullback Brandon Hancock is tough Lee Webb, who has quietly gone about being an effective team player and retains his starting fullback spot for Cal despite Hancock's return.

The Not So Obvious – Cal also has an unsung hero in their backfield in former Newport Harbor star Chris Manderino, who is now a strapping 230-pound fullback. An unknown walk-on last year, Manderino was awarded a scholarship after last season. The Trojans should be aware of this kid's ability to hurt them coming out of the backfield. As a side note, Manderino's father, Paul, played fullback and defensive end at Michigan State.

The Obvious – The Trojans' bye allowed several offensive linemen to heal some wounds for this Saturday's game, especially the much-needed Jacob Rogers, the Trojans' senior all-star candidate at offensive tackle.

The Not So Obvious – The Bears believe that they have a legitimate NFL draft pick of the future in senior offensive tackle Mark Wilson (6-6, 295), a 2002 All-Pac-10 honorable mention. Considered the Bears' top NFL prospect, Wilson worked as a garlic harvester in 2000. Wilson was also a first team all-state (Div/ V) basketball selection as a senior at Fall River High in McArthur

The Obvious – Trojan coaches spent some of the bye week going across country and checking out prospects that may want to migrate to Southern California.

The Not So Obvious – On this year's Cal Bears' roster, eight players are from outside of California from various states as Arizona, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Texas, and even a foreigner, defensive tackle L.P. Ladouceur, from Canada.

The Obvious – The Trojans have had a very successful event in the "Trojan Walk", where players depart the team bus about two hours before the game and walk through a spirit tunnel of fans at the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – Not to be outdone, since 2002 the Bears have a new tradition with the "March to Victory". Approximately two-and-a-half hours before kickoff of each home game , more than 1,000 fans forma human tunnel outside the north end of Memorial Stadium to root their team into the locker room.

The Obvious – All Trojan fans were relieved this season to see that their famous mascot, Traveler, was again semi-galloping around parts of the Coliseum to the tune of "Conquest"

The Not So Obvious – Bring your earplugs Trojan fans as Cal has the Victory Cannon, which is their version of Traveler. It is shot off at the beginning of each game, after each score, and after each Cal victory.

The Obvious – While there is no question of Trojans' radio voice Pete Arbogast's devotion to USC football, there are a number of Trojan fans wondering whatever happened to legendary USC voice Tom Kelly, who seems to have disappeared off the Trojan airwaves.

The Not So Obvious – The Bears have their own version of Tom Kelly in Joe Starkey, KGO's sports director, who began his 29th consecutive year this season as the "Voice of Cal football."

The Obvious – The Trojans are hoping that Darnell Bing has healed completely from his high ankle sprain that figures to be tested by Cal quarterback Aaron Rogers.

The Not So Obvious – While Tedford's offense figures to be the most balanced the Trojans have seen thus far. However, the USC offense will also test the Cal secondary, which is led by sophomore rover Donnie McCleskey, a former running back who cracked the starting lineup midway through last season by averaging 5.4 tackles.

The Obvious – USC has had a number of football players over the years with Hollywood connections like the immortal John Wayne and the aggressive Tim Rossovich.

The Not So Obvious – Cal senior punter Tyler Fredrickson, a film major who aspires to be a film director or producer, has worked with studios as Dreamworks, New Line Cinema and Buena Vista, and Trojan Alum George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. On Saturday, Fredrickson will try to outperform Troy's Tom Malone, who may be on the verge of being the premiere punter in the country.

The Obvious – One USC coach who has done an outstanding job since Pete Carroll took control is third-year linebacker Coach Nick Holt, whose maternal grandfather was Buster Crabbe, former Trojan Olympic gold medalist who starred as Hollywood's Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers.

The Not So Obvious – While Holt has Trojan roots in Hollywood stardom, new Cal linebacker coach is Justin Wilcox, whose father, Dave, "starred" at linebacker for the San Francisco 49'ers. Young Justin should ring a bell for Trojan fans as he shined as a linebacker for the Oregon Ducks from 1997-99.

The Obvious - Cal Coach Jeff Tedford really made a name for himself as offensive coordinator for Mike Bellotti at Oregon.

The Not So Obvious – Tedford has five coaches on his staff that have had an affiliation with the Oregon football program.

The Obvious – Saturday's game will be telecast on Fox Sports Net at 3:30 p.m. with Steve Physioc and Pat Haden impressionist Tom Ramsey.

The Not So Obvious – Other televised Pac-10 games include dangerous Washington State at undefeated Oregon (ABC, 12:30 p.m.), questionable Oregon State at dissolving Arizona (TBS, 7:00 p.m.), and for insomniacs, upstart San Diego State at rudderless UCLA (FSW2, 7:00 a.m.)

The Obvious – With tailback Chauncey Washington out of Saturday's game, there is the real possibility of Whitney Lewis seeing a carry or two at tailback.

The Not So Obvious – Let's see now. Lewis has played wide receiver, fullback, and now tailback. Well, the only thing left for the freshman prodigy is an audition as offensive coordinator, but it's doubtful that Norm Chow is quite ready to relinquish his spot in the booth.

The Obvious – Trojan fans are finding it hard not to dream of a national championship game or a possible Rose Bowl vacation after each Trojan victory.

The Not So Obvious – Starting on Saturday, those same Trojan fans will find that dreaming about getting to New Orleans or Pasadena is sure a lot less stressful than watching the reality which begins on Saturday in Berkeley. Pass the Advil and pour the Malox.

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