It was Black Friday all over the United States on Friday (which made it an interesting choice on why the Sun Devils didn’t bust out their black uniforms Friday night in the dessert). Many Cal fans probably left Vacaville or Gilroy feeling like winners on outlet clothing, just to come home to another surprise and great find. A Cal victory on the road! Outside of Pullman, Tempe has been the place which Cal has typically cashed in heavily on for road victories during the Jeff Tedford era (outside the slide of 2007). We were able to rid ourselves of the Beaver curse this year, while keeping intact our clamps on Sparky. Three big reasons which lead to the Bear’s victory:
1. Great job by our offensive line and our ground attack. Isi and CJ combined for 193 yards and more important averaged more than 6 yards a carry, keeping the chains moving and the Sun Devils’ defense panting on the field in this back and forth game. Zach also made some beautiful zone reads to pick up some huge first downs and a rushing TD. I loved Tedford’s mix of the running attack this game, as alternating between the contrasting running styles of Isi and CJ definitely kept ASU off-balance this game.
2. Zach took care of the ball. Maynard didn’t have a great statistical game. He only had 237 yards (74 of which came from a flip to CJ on a broken play), but he made plays with his feet when he needed to and placed the ball only where his receivers could catch it. We saw how effective Maynard is when he rolls out to his left, and how his ability to extend plays (sound like another Cal QB in the NFL now?) makes him extremely dangerous especially if he keeps his eyes looking down-field as witnessed by the 74 yard flip to CJ for a touchdown.
3. Cal got some lucky bounces their way. The Cameron Marshall fumble in the 4th quarter as the Sun Devils’ were down 6 and driving could have easily been ruled down by contact. However, the ref saw enough evidence to overturn the call. Of course maybe this was makeup for the Richard Rodgers “fumble” near the end of the 2nd half or the lack of a replay on what appeared to be another fumble by Jamal Miles earlier in the 4th quarter. There was also Isi’s fumble which was luckily recovered by fullback John Tydall early in the 4th allowing the Bears to salvage 3 points on the drive. In addition, Vontaze’s reputation probably earned him his second unsportsmanlike conduct and a trip to the bench which allowed Cal to pound the ball inside to bleed out most of the fourth quarter. Lastly, there was the Giorgio tipped field goal, which if it was even kicked from one yard further behind would have had Cal fans shaking their head and probably doubting the Bears could hold a 6 point lead. The moral of the story, probably better sometimes to be lucky than to be good.