Mike Silver, SI writer and Cal Alum, was gracious enough to indulge us in a Q&A session before last year's USC game. He writes more about Cal sports than anyone else and he covers the NFL. (We should lobby for him to take over the Cal Football blog at Contra Costa Times, which has dropped in quality since Jay Heater left.)
SI.com is doing a feature called "Best Game I Have Ever Seen..." and Mike writes about his experience watching "The Play". (Read Article)
It is a great story told from the audience perspective.
Here is a list of the top 3 games I have seen in person I have been in NYC the last 2 years, so apologies to fans of the Cal - Washington game last year.
1) Cal vs USC 2003 - The Holy Sh!t Game
Cal upsets #3 USC in triple overtime. The defense was fierce shutting down Bush, White and Dennis and intercepting Leinart 3 times. Also, Echemandu was the only back that season to rush for over 100 yards against SC.
But the game itself was crazy. Two blocked field goals. A fumble by Dennis near the goal line. Robertson replacing Rodgers and leading the Bears to victory.
All game long, all I heard was "Holy Sh!t, did you see that" or "Holy Sh!t, is this really happening".
2) Cal vs USC 2004 - Near Perfection
The Cal game with the most hype in the last 15 years. ESPN Gameday was there. Cal fans in SoCal come out of the woodwork. 2 undefeated team in a conference battle.
Rodgers completed 74 passes in a row (ok it was less but the kid was on fire). Defense holds its own against a powerful USC offense. The Cal section is ridiculously loud and the entire Coliseum is rocking. Yeah, in the end we lost, but that was a great game.
3) Cal vs UCLA 2000 - The Silver Lining in a Dark Era
I attended Cal from 1997 - 2001. Or what is known as the Holmoe Era. There was not much to celebrate. I remember sitting at games in the fourth quarter with enough room to lie across benches. But this game was one of the few bright spots of that time.
UCLA comes into the game ranked #13 while Cal is averaging 13 points a game. The result: Cal over UCLA 46-38 in triple overtime. (Side note: Cal dominates in triple overtime games.)
Boller was playing out of his mind but Igber was the real star of the day.
During overtime, the mic man had the student section move from end zone to end zone to provide additional crowd noise. (This also shows how sparsely attended Cal games were at this time). My first time rushing the field after a win. (1997 and 1998 Cal fans rushed the field after losses in the Big Game).
Looking back at this game and reading the press notes, you have to wonder how bad Holmoe was as a coach. Here are some of the players on that team: Kyle Boller (NFL), Nnamdi Asomugha (Pro Bowler), Scott Fujita (Pro Bowler), Joe Igber (1000 + yards), Geoff MacArthur (All American under Tedford), Nick Harris (greatest punter in Cal history, Harris for Heisman).
Share your favorites in the comments. Remember these are only games that you have seen in person.