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What If...? The Pre-Season Edition
Hypotheti...cal..ly, what if Cal...
Editor’s Note: Christopher had the article written before the season but had forgot to schedule into the game week. Apologies to the writer and our reader for withholding such an awesome perspective piece
We are just hours away from Cal football’s season opener against UC Davis.
For some, that means letting the hot September afternoon sun just burn ever so slightly while waiting for the alternating student-alumni section chants of “go” and “bears.” For others, that means reaching for an extra tortilla chip to scoop the buffalo chicken dip with the television audio radiating throughout their home. For me, that means I am finally willing to reveal myself as The Watcher, your guide through these vast new realities.
I assume at least some of you realize I am referencing the Disney+ show, which, admittedly, has a slightly different vibe than this particular article. Since the season has yet to start, there are no alternate realities such as what if Peggy Carter became the First Avenger instead of Steve Rogers. There are only things to come. Consequently, this may be more of a random predictions-type article with some level of a creative license of what that may mean, but bear with some of these hypotheti…cal scenarios because we will eventually have some more fun with the alternate realities that I clearly will guide you through.
Before we continue with my wisdom and guidance, I will temporarily play into the superstitious of this crowd (not me, of course). At this point, do your thing. Knock on wood or roll down 4.0 hill or whatever it is you do. As The Watcher, superstitions do not bother me.
What if… Jack Plummer throws for 1200 passing yards in September?
Four games, 300 yards per game. It cannot be that hard, right? Since 2018, Cal quarterbacks have had five 300+ passing yards games, 1 by Brandon McIlwain and 4 by Chase Garbers. But this is the year. Jeremiah Hunter is going to rip off a 75-yard touchdown catch against UC Davis. Plummer starts rattling off 30-yard passes. Defensive backs don’t know where they should be trailing Mavin Anderson or J.Michael Sturdivant, and somehow they find themselves on Keleki Latu. Yet, despite all the passing yards, Cal struggles with getting receiving touchdowns, which forces the offense to rely on running it into the endzone within the 10-yard line.
What if… Cal upsets Notre Dame?
After a 2-0 start, the Bears travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on Notre Dame, a team that will likely still be in the top ten despite a loss to Ohio State in the first week of the season. Still shaken at their core, the Fighting Irish are unable to handle the noise from the traveling horde of Cal fans telling the players that South Bend is bear territory. Notre Dame quarterback Tyler Buchner feels the uncertainty growing on the sidelines and throws an untimely interception that the veteran stalwart Daniel Scott returns for the game-clinching touchdown. Cal fans will be excited to realize that while Michael Mayer, Notre Dame’s tight end, might be the most pro-ready player in college football, Jermaine Terry was the better tight end in this game.
What if… Cal goes 7-0?
After finishing off Notre Dame in their out-of-conference slate, Cal feels slighted that they were in the “also receiving votes” category of the AP Poll. Consequently, the Bears start their conference slate by beating Arizona on a Plummer Hail Mary. With that completion, the Bears finally end their curse against Arizona. Cal feels the momentum of two consecutive tough wins and the offense finally breaks open against Washington State resulting in a 27-point margin. Cal enters the top 25 for the first time since 2019 and goes into its bye week. It is at this point that the Bears learn the flea-flicker, which they successfully execute halfway through the 3rd quarter against Colorado, giving Cal enough of a lead that fans will start clamoring for Kai Millner to get reps. Now that the Bears have broken into the top 20 of the AP poll, Washington is anxious to end Cal’s undefeated season, but their aggressiveness results in too many false starts/offsides penalties, which gives the Bears just enough of a window to come away with a victory and a top 15 ranking.
What if… Jadyn Ott wins Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year?
With a 7-0 start, the humming offense will partly be a result of the passing dynamics, but it will also be due to the total dominance of Ott in the redzone. Arizona’s towering giant wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan (he’s 6’5) will rack up the production early in the season and give Ott a close competitor in the race, but the Wildcats’ offense will fade in the second half of the season, which gives Ott the inside lane to the finish line. Think I’m crazy yet?
What if… Cal sweeps the California schools?
Clearly the future of college football is undergoing a lot of changes. USC and UCLA moving to the Big 10 conference is old news at this point, and frankly, by the time Cal plays the other California schools, the 12-team college football playoff will certainly be old news. After seeing this result, the Big 10 is confused if they invited the right Pac-12 schools to their conference. Upon beating UCLA, the Big 10 finally invites Cal despite Michigan’s protest that the team colors are too similar because Ohio State tells stories about how great their visit to Memorial Stadium in 2013 was.
For now, as The Watcher, I must go into my hibernation. I will be back in early October to guide you through the remainder of the season. Until then, roll on you bears. I will be watching.