Ratto: Here's to the Chaos of The Big Game

November 18, 2010, 3:00 am
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Nov. 17, 2010


Ray Ratto

I would like to report to you that because the line has been moving steadily toward the underdog in Saturday's Big Game, this means that Cal will make it a memorably close game, based on the fact that Cal has dominated the betting (and subsequent paying) in this hardy perennial.

But, like the hangover over Cal's close loss last week to Oregon, the possibility that Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh may never see another Big Game, the possibilities of a Rose Bowl for Stanford and a Holiday Bowl for Cal and how the boys endured the food and conversation at the Guardsmen's Lunch, this doesn't tell you a whole lot.

What it means is, Cal has more people betting on it (the line has gone from 8 to 6 - since Sunday morning) because it has more fans and graduates, and that the Oregon game rekindled betting hope. That is all.

Like the Oregon hangover, another non-starter logic-wise. If the Cal players haven't gotten over that one yet, they deserve to be crushed Saturday.

Or the Luck and Harbaugh stories. Luck will leave because there are untold riches and challenges awaiting him, barring an NFL lockout. And Harbaugh will leave as soon as the right riches and challenges come a-beckoning. We know that, they know, their teammates know that. Nobody is stupid here.

Or the bowl possibilities. Stanford needs Auburn to lose, soon. That's it. An Auburn loss probably puts Boise State in the title game, freeing the Rose Bowl from the obligation of taking an AQ team (say, TCU) - that is, unless the Rose Bowl doesn't think Stanford will travel as well as TCU, in which case it could take the Cardinal anyway. And Cal could sneak into the Holiday Bowl as the next Pac-10 team in the pecking order after Oregon goes to the national championship, Stanford to the Rose and Arizona to the Sun.

Suits make that call, though, and the Big Game isn't the last dance on either team's schedule.

And we make no judgment on the Guardsman lunch. We weren't there. We've never been there. If the Guardsmen have anything to do with it, we never will be there. That's what guardsmen do, after all. Keep out the riff, not to mention the raff.

No, all that stuff doesn't matter in terms of figuring the game. What does, is this weather forecast.

Yeah. Rain. Lots of it. It's the one thing that will change Saturday's game, by a lot. The Memorial Stadium turf will hold up better than the traditional grass field, unfortunately, because nothing says a great rivalry game quite like the kind of mud that obscures all uniforms and obliterates footing. But it will be a bother, and so will the wind expected to accompany it.

See, we tend to see big things in small ones all the time when it comes to football, because there's so damned much time to kill between high-speed collisions between borderline insane young men. We want the psychological stuff to matter. We want to bathe in the minutiae so the majutiae (the big stuff, I guess, though my make-it-up-as-you-go-along Latin isn't as strong as it used to be) can be ignored.

But we know that Stanford is on paper the better team with more to play for. We also want the Big Game to be about the unpredictable, the zany, the downright unforeseeable, and other than injuries, the weather and the band are the best you've got.

And we're not rooting for injuries, or either band, as far as that goes.

That leaves weather, and this is not a bad forecast. It would be better if the game was at Stanford because the Cardinal play on God's own mulch, and therefore can turn it into God's own bog within a quarter. At Cal, you need puddles and high winds to get the kind of chaos we're looking for here.

And truthfully, since we don't give a damn who wins, having attended neither school, we'll root for chaos every time.

So never mind all the other stuff. Root for a nasty front to come in off the Pacific and make the game a complete silent movie comedy. We can't vouch for the result (except that in such an eventuality you should bet the under), but you'll remember it a lot longer.

And if you're attending the game and need to keep that grill working, then root that the Weather Channel, the closest thing we have to the Almighty, is wrong. I mean, never mind the game. You've got coals (and guests) to keep lit.

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