Let's be real. Whether you know it as Cal, or the University of California, Berkeley, it makes no difference. Ohio State is still making a trip to the greatest school in the universe. Sure, the Bears lost in Columbus last year, but that should have been expected -- the Buckeyes were nearly four-touchdown favorites over a team that went 3-9. And even then Brendan Bigelow averaged 40 yards per carry -- while recording the longest run ever by an opponent in Ohio Stadium -- and scored two touchdowns, just for good measure.
This time Bigelow will have another advantage: He'll play in California Memorial Stadium, in Berkeley -- home of the No. 1 public university in the world, according to every single news organization polled. Ohio State isn't even listed on the first page of the latest U.S. News college rankings -- at No. 52, it is basically in the “receiving votes” category, below several other University of California branches.
Honestly, I can't wait for Bigelow to scamper his way through Ohio State's defense again, but he won't be the only one giving OSU fans nightmares -- the Bears will also have the nation's leading passer under center in Jared Goff. True freshman or not, he has more passing yards than Ohio State has in total. Yes, the rumors are true -- Goff's right arm was engineered by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, the same lab responsible for a handful of the 60 Nobel Prizes won by the University of California, Berkeley.
Speaking of Berkeley institutions and achievements: Cal's campus was the basis for the campus of Pixar's Monsters University, and four elements from the periodic table were named after or discovered by Cal scientists. How many elements did Ohio State researchers discover? Let me save you the trouble of asking Siri -- the answer is zero.
You know what else Ohio State has zero of? Restaurants comparable to the game-day finery that is Top Dog. Buckeyes fans, I promise you, if you make your way there this Saturday, it will blow Dirty Frank's out of the water. It's the same famous eatery that powered 45 Cal athletes to the 2012 Olympics, where the Golden Bears lived up to their name and brought home 14 gold medals.
That, of course, is only a tiny glance at Cal’s excellence off the gridiron. For proof of excellence on the field, all you have to do is watch any given NFL game. Odds are you'll spot a Golden Bear sooner or later -- Cal ranks fifth among all colleges in current NFL players, with All-Pros Aaron Rodgers, Tony Gonzalez, Marshawn Lynch and DeSean Jackson among them. I kind of feel sad for Ohio State when people tweet about how #PryorCriesInLockerRoom. At least we get to enjoy #BeastMode -- when we're not laying claim to one of four QBs who have started a Super Bowl.
Don't even get us started comparing mascots. Brutus represents the nut of the Buckeye Tree. A nut! Oski, a bear, literally eats those for breakfast! The Best Damn Mascot in the Land? Yeah, whatever. He might not even be the best mascot in his own state, judging from how easily he went down at Ohio.
Needless to say, everything here at Cal comes from a long line of excellence. Don’t be surprised when we continue that tradition with an upset of Ohio State in Strawberry Canyon.
Leigh Steinberg's Special Cal Connection