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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON PAC-10 FOOTBALL

Cal hopes to avoid another early kickoff trap

Coach Jeff Tedford says the Bears didn't lose at Maryland in 2008 because of the 9 a.m. PDT start. Nonetheless, he moved up his team's travel schedule for this week's trip to Minnesota.

September 16, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE | ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

This is a critical nonconference weekend for the Pacific 10 and it starts with California's early-morning kickoff at Minnesota on Saturday.

Cal fans can only hope it isn't a repeat of last year's early-morning kickoff at Maryland.

Rise and shine?

Bears Coach Jeff Tedford is tired of people blaming last year's 35-27 loss to the Terrapins on the 9 a.m. PDT start. He says it had nothing to do with Cal flying in on Friday, or any body-clock adjustment issues.

"We didn't play well," Tedford said on Tuesday's Pac-10 coaches call, "but the announcers, all they could say is, 'It's early, it's early, it's early.' Everybody thinks it's early."

Never mind that Cal fell behind by 14 points before rallying.

Tedford: "We were sleeping, but it wasn't because when we flew in there or anything like that. I really don't believe it."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, September 18, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Pacific 10 preview: An article in Wednesday's Sports section on this weekend's Pac-10 football games misstated Iowa's record as 1-1. Iowa is 2-0.

Tedford has heard so much about last year's "wake-up call" he made it a point to note that his Cal teams are 4-1 in early-start road games.

"But the one that we lost seems to be the one everybody remembers," he said.

So, then, Cal will definitely be sticking to last year's travel itinerary by flying in Friday?

Well, um, no. Cal is flying in on Thursday.

"I don't want be hardheaded about it," Tedford said. "I want to give it a shot and see what that's all about. See if it's better . . . if it is something that gives us an advantage, we'll take a look at it. Unless we do it I don't have anything to compare it to."

Cal is ranked No. 8 in this week's Associated Press poll after cruise-control home victories against Maryland and Eastern Washington.

The Bears need the win at Minnesota (2-0) to keep pace with No. 3 USC in anticipation of the schools' Oct. 3 showdown in Berkeley. The victory is also important for tailback Jahvid Best's Heisman candidacy and the Pac-10's ongoing fight for credibility. The league is 13-4 in nonconference games after last weekend -- not that it was easy -- as USC, Oregon and Oregon State pulled out squeakers against Ohio State, Purdue and Nevada Las Vegas.

The Pac-10's nonconference performance is also important in enhancing the league's status in the voter/computer components used in the Bowl Championship Series standings formula.

Other key nonconference games this weekend:

* Utah (2-0) at Oregon (1-1). Utah takes a 16-game winning streak into Eugene for another crucial measuring-stick Pac-10 matchup against the Mountain West Conference. Last year, Utah defeated Oregon State in Salt Lake City en route to an undefeated season and No. 2 final ranking.

* Cincinnati (2-0) at Oregon State (2-0). Folks in Corvallis should be very nervous. Oregon State needed a late field goal, set up by a pass-interference penalty, to win at UNLV. Cincinnati was machine-like in a 47-15 opening win over Rutgers and followed with a 70-3 victory over Southeast Missouri State.

* Arizona (2-0) at Iowa (1-1). Arizona Coach Mike Stoops probably wishes he was returning to his alma mater with more experience at quarterback. Sophomore Matt Scott attempted only 11 passes in 2008 and the trip to Iowa is the first of three straight road games for the Wildcats.

* Southern Methodist (2-0) at Washington State (0-2). June Jones has SMU seeking its first 3-0 start since the program's pre-NCAA Death Penalty days. The way Washington State has been playing, 3-0 seems almost a cinch.

* San Jose State (0-2) at Stanford (1-1). San Jose State's record is a bit deceiving in that its losses came against BCS bowl winners USC (Rose) and Utah (Sugar). Stanford should be seething after letting victory slip away last week at Wake Forest.

* Louisiana Monroe (1-1) at Arizona State (1-0). Don't get too comfortable, Tempe. Two years ago, Louisiana Monroe stunned Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

* Kansas State (1-1) at UCLA (2-0). Now is probably a good time for the Bruins to stop basking in last weekend's huge win at Tennessee and not assume Kansas State will roll over because it lost last week to Louisiana Lafayette.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/DufresneLATimes

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