Which Tedford Team Was the Best? Cal 2004 vs. Cal 2006
You have the most talented team playerwise in Cal 2006, which has sent around a dozen players to the NFL. They’re going up against that Cal 2004 juggernaut, who just swept a more experienced 2007 version of that team. So to say they have their work cut out for them might be a bit of an understatement.
As usual, we’re taking this shit to seven games (as it should be with any sport, who doesn’t want more football?), and this series is taken from a sample of about fifty simulated games on WhatIfSports. Again, we’re using the best of seven series, because more games are better. The 2004 team are heavy favorites–can they pull off the upset?
Game 1: Cal 2006 31, Cal 2004 28 (Cal 2006 leads 1-0)
The 2006 Bears started with a 5 minute opening drive that resulted in a Longshore to Robert Jordan connection on 1st and goal at the 9 to make it 7-0; the 2004 Bears came right back with a 3-3 44 yard drive from Aaron Rodgers and capped off their drive with a Marshawn Lynch score to tie things up. However, after a quick 3-and-out by the ‘06 team and a drive deep into their territory by the ‘04 team Chris Purtz (yes, THAT Chris Purtz) stepped right into a Rodgers pass and returned it 74 yards for a TD to make it 14-7. The first of two J.J. Arrington 53 yard TD runs would tie the game at 14 going into halftime.
In the third quarter the 2006 Bears would respond with another long, thorough drive that allowed them to take a 21-14 lead. But after forcing two three and outs where the ‘06 team gathered -13 yards, Arrington would run another 53 yard scamper to tie the game at 21 and ran another one in from three yards out to make it 28-21. Then came some interesting playcalling by Tedford ‘06, who after a stellar 70 yard drive, would attempt a field goal down by a TD to cut the lead to 4 rather than going for the tie on 4th and goal with 6 minutes left.
Trusting his defense, Tedford watched his ‘06 team force another quick 3 and out, and then Longshore would guide them to the opposing 25 yard line with just over 2 minutes left. On 4th down and 8, Longshore found DeSean Jackson at the yellow marker, and then escaped a few tacklers before zipping his way into the end zone for the go-ahead score. The ‘04 team still had enough time to mount one last drive and got to the opposing 22 yard line with 3 seconds left, but Schneider’s attempted tying field goal bounced off the uprights as time expired.
J.J. Arrington had 189 yards and 3 TDs. Longshore passed 23 for 39 for 249 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, but was also sacked five times and the 2006 running attack was held in check for only 97 yards. Rodgers went 18 for 29 for 200 yards and 1 INT.
Game 2 Cal 2004 38, Cal 2006 23 (Series tied 1-1)
Aaron Rodgers threw a perfect game to kept the 2004 Golden Bears from falling into an insurmountable hole. He was 18 for 28 for 301 yards and 4 TDs as he kept them one step ahead of their 2006 counterparts for the majority of the game. A seesaw battle for the first three quarters, the 2004 Bears finally distanced themselves with two touchdowns in the final sixteen minutes to give them the decisive advantage.
After Rodgers aired an 83 yard pass out to Chase Lyman for their first touchdown to make it a 10-6 game, he would continue to pace the game in their favor. He would throw an 8 yard toss to Garrett Cross and a 58 yard bomb to Jonathan Makonnen to guide the Bears to a 24-13 halftime lead.
However back came Longshore, who would lead his team to 10 more points. A quick drive in the third quarter set up a Schneider field goal, and Justin Forsett would scamp to a 37 yard TD and cut the lead to 1. But J.J. Arrington took over on the next drive, gaining 38 of the 61 yards on that drive including the touchdown to up the lead back to eight.
After ‘06 Schneider missed a 49 yard field goal that would have cut the lead to 5 midway through the 4th, Rodgers would march his team 61 yards down the field in just over a minute and finished up the scoring with a throw to Robert Jordan, who would dance into the end zone for a 15 point lead with 3 minutes left. Longshore’s last ditch effort ended in an interception to Donnie McClesky.
Game 3 Cal 2004 23, Cal 2006 20 (Cal 2004 leads 2-1)
It was a game the 2006 team controlled for three quarters. They could not close the deal.
Aaron Rodgers led the team on three scoring drives in the 4th quarter, including the game tying and game winning field goals, and some crucial errors by the 2006 team cost them a chance to retake the series lead.
Two times in the first half Nate Longshore got some invaluable help–a Daymeion Hughes interception on 2004’s first drive set up a TD throw to Robert Jordan, and a long punt return by Jackson set up a chip shot Tom Schneider field goal to make it 10-3. However Longshore would throw an interception right into Francis Blay-Miezah’s lap, which immediately led to Rodgers’s throwing a score to his own Jordan to tie the game at 10. But back came Longshore, who aired out a 58 yard TD bomb to Jackson with 35 seconds left in the half to make it 17-10 for the ‘06 team.
However, in the third quarter, despite controlling the ball for nine and a half minutes on two drives and getting deep into ‘04 territory twice, the ‘06ers could only manage a field goal and keep it at 20-10. Right after Schneider’s field goal made it a two possession game, Rodgers would drive the Bears right down the field on a five minute drive to cut the lead to three on a Marshawn Lynch throw.
On two straight fourth quarter drives, Lavelle Hawkins and Jackson dropped two crucial balls on 3rd downs that might’ve kept the ‘06 Bears on the edge. The results were a 56 yard catch and go by ‘04 Lynch set up a tying field goal, and then a 4 minute drive by Rodgers that set up the go-ahead field goals. A last-second drive did not pass midfield after a Lorenzo Alexander sack of Longshore.
While both teams struggled to run the ball (neither team would have a rushing TD, as Arrington rushed for 80 yards, ‘06 Lynch for only 48 and Forsett for only 29) and eight sacks knocked both QBs down multiple times, Longshore and Rodgers combined for 42 of 66 attempts, 620 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs.
Game 4 Cal ‘04 37, Cal ‘06 14
A dominating 1st half put the ‘04 team one win away from being crowned the best Tedford team.
The lopsided level of the score was mostly due to the Cal ‘06 team, who undid themselves with 5 turnovers (2 fumbles, although one was on the last play of the game, 2 interceptions, 1 on downs). The two interceptions led to 10 points that widened the lead to 34-0 by the middle of the 3rd quarter, the 4th and goal denial negated a six minute fourth quarter drive that could have cut the lead to 23, and a Marshawn Lynch fumble near the red zone capped off the crucial turnovers.
Even without the turnovers, it’s hard to imagine how the ‘04 Bears could’ve been overcome tonight. The 2004 Bears stampeded 365-78 over the 2006 Bears in the running game alone. J.J Arrington rushed for 259 yards and 2 TDs, 128 yards alone in the 1st quarter as they built a 17-0 lead. Aaron Rodgers would throw his two TDs of the game in that period, finishing with a modest 15-22 for 168 yards. He wasn’t really needed the rest of the game, but he did have two more drives in the second quarter that led to 10 more points and a 27-0 halftime lead. That was all the ‘04 team needed.
Longshore finished 18 for 29 for 262 yards and 1 TD, but also threw the two costly picks to Tim Mixon. Again Marshawn Lynch was held in check for 51 yards on 23 carries, but did catch 5 passes for 102 yards and ’06’s first score. DeSean Jackson returned a punt 44 yards for a TD to round out the scoring.
Game 5: Cal 2004 45, Cal 2006 35
For a coach that values the power run game, this was one performance Jeff Tedford had to be awfully proud about.
Marshawn Lynch (9 carries, 200 yards, 1 TD) and J.J. Arrington (36 carries, 265 yards, 2 TDs) combined for a record breaking 465 total rushing yards, and the 2004 California Golden Bears were crowned the Tedford Tournament Champion in a decisive 4-1 victory. The last two games were dominated by Cal ‘04, as they never trailed in either game. While Game 5 was tighter than Game 4, the result was still in the 2004 team’s favor, as they dominated time of possession by a twelve minute advantage.
Aaron Rodgers opened the game leading the Bears down the field in six minutes, hitting Chase Lyman on a 24 yard pattern to give his team a 7-0 lead; Lynch ‘04 would roll his way to an 83 yard TD later in the quarter to make it 14-0. His older counterpart would break loose for the first time in the series, answering with a 61 yard runback to cut the lead the 7.
Then came an intense four and a half minutes where both teams traded two touchdowns each. Rodgers led his team on another extensive 4 and a half minute drive, finding Robert Jordan for a 12 yard end zone catch to make it 21-7. Longshore threw two 30 yard darts to Lavelle Hawkins on the very next drive to answer back with another touchdown, but Arrington came back with a 75 yard sprint on the very next play to up the lead back to 28-14. Hawkins then caught another 40 yard route (his third and last of the game), leading to a Beegun TD and a 28-21 deficit. The 2004 team finished up with one final field goal in the waning seconds of the first half.
After Longshore threw an interception to Tim Mixon which led to another 2004 score and a 17 point lead early in the third quarter, his teammates would step up for him to bring them back in it. Lynch ‘06 would answer with another long run of 57 yards into the end zone. Then Daymeion Hughes would step into the path of a badly thrown Rodgers pass and would run it back 59 yards to cut the lead to 38-35, giving new life to a desperate 2006 squad trying to force a Game 6. Hughes would pick off another Rodgers pass early in the 4th quarter, giving the 06 team a great shot at midfield to get over the hump, but the 2004 D stiffened and forced a three-and-out, thanks mostly to a sack by Francis Blay-Miezah.
But back came ‘06 Lynch and Arrington, who would combine for 60 of the 69 yards on the decisive drive that pushed the lead back to 10 with 8:58 remaining. The 2006 team would not threaten on their remaining three drives.
Longshore finished 18 for 34 for 302 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT, but was sacked seven times overall, five times in the fourth quarter (Steve Kelly, Francis Blay-Miezah, Brandon Hampton, Brandon Mebane, Tom Sverchek, Ryan Guiterrez, and Lorenzo Alexander would all help Longshore meet turf). Lynch had his best game of the series with 176 yards on only 15 carries and 216 yards from scrimmage, but it wasn’t enough. Rodgers was efficient again with 20-26 for 213 yards and 3 TDs. But today was all about the running game as the 2004 team, as expected, was crowned the best.
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