California dismantled an overwhelmed Eastern Washington team last Saturday at Memorial Stadium, although it was a bit too close for me as I walked into the stadium. Upon entrance (I really had to fit in one more game of beer pong so I missed kickoff, again) it was 7-7. Fortunately for the Bears, Jahvid Best and Kevin Riley opened up the scoring floodgates and things began to spiral out of control quickly for the Eagles. Best showed off his stupid fast speed by rushing for 144 yards on 17 carries while making the Eagles defense look like they were stuck in sand.
There were some definite broken ankles as Best continued to prove he belongs in the Heisman race, adding rushing and receiving TD's to his impressive yardage totals. The key thing for Jeff Tedford will be saving this guy for the season while still giving him enough opportunities to make some national headlines. I think thus far Tedford has managed the situation very well; Best is injury prone and Tedford has limited him to 27 carries overall thus far, getting Shane Vereen and Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson involved to keep Best fresh. I'm all for Jahvid making a push for the Heisman, but let's be real, unless the Bears are in the National Title hunt and defeat U$C he's not going to unseat Tim Tebow or Colt McCoy. Furthermore, the only way the Bears ascend that high in the polls is with a healthy Best in the backfield.
That being said, Best will need help and thus far Kevin Riley looks much improved over his up-and-down performances from last year. He's finally the guy after beating out Brock Mansion and with Nate Longshore graduating he doesn't have to look over his shoulder anymore. Riley has looked solid in the first two games, benefitting from more experienced receivers in Marvin Jones, Verran Tucker, and Nyan Boateng. With Best forcing Maryland and Eastern Washington to load the box, Riley has been able to throw for 446 yards and 5 TD's. The most important statistic thus far in this early season however is the number 0; as in no INT's or fumbles. With the Bears staunch defense, not turning the ball over will be that much more of a killing blow to our opponents.
This Saturday the Bears get to prove their road hibernation trend is over, as they go on the road for the first time and face a hard-nosed Big 10 team in Minnesota. The game will be played in their new stadium on campus, so expect some rowdy Golden Gophers fans to wake the Bears up if they're still in their west-coast slumber. I'm anxious to see how the Bears fare on the road and show up for an early game. Kickoff is at 9AM on the west coast, so make sure you get your mimosas out early so you can enjoy the Bears going BEASTMODE on the Gophers!