Well it turns out that turning Ayoob around (as in headed for the door) was the best thing the Cal team could do. Levy was exactly the spark the team needed to win. In my opinion he did 3 things that were critical:
1. He had the right balance of determination and enthusiasm. I didn’t think about it much before now, but all of the interviews I’ve seen with Ayoob, he NEVER seemed excited. He always had this bored, disinterested persona. Not Levy, he’s both determined (i.e. not easily discouraged) and enthusiastic (i.e. gives a spark to the whole team).
2. He only threw one “ill-advised” pass. He was pretty good all day of not throwing the ball to bad spots.
3. He had great timing. He both threw the ball at the right moment (not late like Ayoob was always doing) and when the play wasn’t there recognized it early enough to run up field.
Was he incredible? No. But he accomplished two critical things: 1. He kept Stanford’s defense guessing just enough to add effectiveness to the run game and 2. didn’t cripple the successes of the running game by fumbling and throwing interceptions.
In other news about the Big Game, blogger Michael Cruz pointed out how much Bay Area media sympathies lie with Stanford, a belief I’ve always had, and considering the result of the game that thought is only reconfirmed. As much as I was happy with Levy, we would have won the game with Ayoob, it just may not have been 27-3. The reality is that Cal is a far superior team to Stanford and has been all season. But the media just loves to give too much credit to “The Cardinal” and to give as little credit to the Bears as possible. That’s the only reason that every Bay Area newspaper was talking about how much Cal had to lose and how much Stanford had to win while the betting sites were favoring Cal. That’s the only reason why no one was talking about who Stanford has choked all season against good defenses and Cal has arguably the best overall defense in the Pac-10.
Finally, can someone PLEASE explain the bowl situation to me? What I am told in the various newspaper articles discussing the subject, is that Cal could go to one of the 3 following bowls: Sun, Insight or Las Vegas which are the bowls for #’s 3 through 5 respectively. But the way I see it, there is no way Cal will fall to the #5 bowl. Right now Cal is 4-4 along with Stanford. The only other team in the same vicinity, Pac-10 record wise is ASU that is 3-4 right now with one Pac-10 game to play. If they win, they’ll be 6-5 overall and 4-4 in the Pac-10. We didn’t play ASU, but when it’s the case that a tie can’t be broken by head to head play(either because they didn’t play or because there are more than 2 teams without a concensus victor) the next tie-breaker is overall record. Isn’t Cal 7-4? What am I missing here?
Another note along those lines that isn’t getting any press, is that the Pac-10 could have as little as 4 bowl eligible teams if both Stanford and ASU lose next week which I think is fairly conceivable.