Battle at the Bay – California Vs Fresno State

The NCAA college football season’s first Saturday will have a very intriguing matchup. California’s two college systems – the UC versus State – play on September 3rd at Candlestick Park. This will technically be a neutral-site battle. In fact, it will be called “TicketCity Battle at the Bay” and pits the University of California Golden Bears against the Bulldogs of Fresno State University.

There are several interesting stories within this game. As a regular scheduled contest, this will be the very first college football game at Candlestick Park. In-part the reason for the game being played in San Francisco is due to major renovations at California Memorial Stadium in Strawberry Canyon, which is home to the California Golden Bears. The Bears’ home games for 2011 will be at the San Francisco Giants’ baseball field, AT&T Park. They will return to Memorial Stadium in 2012.

On the surface, this looks like more of a home game for California but Fresno State recruits from the Bay Area plus the fanatical Bulldog fans, nicknamed the Red Wave, travel very well, meaning the crowd may indeed be neutral. The schools are less than three hours apart.

The two teams have more in common. The quarterback for the Bulldogs is Derek Carr, a young brother to former Bulldog standout David Carr, who was coached for one year by the Fresno State’s Offensive Coordinator Jeff Tedford; Jeff (who is known for his quarterbacks) is now in his tenth season as head coach of the Bears. Furthermore, Tedford was an All-American quarterback for Fresno State in the early 1980s. On a side note, veteran NFL quarterback David Carr is now with the San Francisco 49ers.

California’s record against non-conference opponents is quite good with only three losses in the past half dozen years. But Fresno State’s record versus California is unblemished with two victories (in 1995 and 2000).

Fresno State is coming off a decent season and there are some who think this just might finally be a breakout year for the Bulldogs and should battle the Hawaii Warriors for the Western Athletic Conference crown. Beating a PAC 12 team would do wonders for the rest of their season and beyond.

California is coming off a less than stellar year and this season doesn’t look like it will be any better for the Golden Bears. Jeff Tedford’s name has come up as to whether he will be a head coach after this coming year. Significant is the word that comes to mind if the Bears can beat a tough Fresno State club.

Along with being a battle for recruiting, this intriguing game starts off both team’s seasons and will be a critical test to see which way their year will go. The Battle at the Bay could kick one team’s season off in grand style and the others in desperation. Intriguing matchup indeed.

Note: As a longtime fan of California football, this game matches two teams that are battling to get to the next level. Fresno State is only two hours from my home and has a huge following here in Central California. The Bay Area and Central Coast, where I live, have close ties so this game means a lot here.