September 4th would be a day of many firsts for me. Among those included my first Mountain West Conference game, my first time seeing California, and above all, my first double-header day. This game in Colorado Springs required early alarm bells as kick off commenced at ten in the morning. Following the Cal/Air Force contest, I would be driving up I-25 toward Boulder to be a spectator for the in-state hate fest between Colorado State and Colorado.
The drive toward Colorado Springs unveiled images of mountains and open space. The views stopped moving around two miles from the Air Force exit as traffic swelled and the swift ride slowed to a parade. Uniformed gentlemen guided cars along the path leading to Falcon Stadium and parking was battled out on dirt roads and bumpy grass. The tailgating is known to be high class around these parts, although with a ten o’clock kickoff, there was only enough time to take in a few sights and smells while moving toward the stadium.
Before entering, large busses arrived just outside the player’s entrance tunnel. Out funneled the academy, dressed in well-appointed blue and throwing enthusiasm in every direction in anticipation for the season opener. They marched proudly, yet chaotically through the underground tunnel as they prepared to make an entrance onto the field. Prior to kickoff, the Academy performed the national anthem, which had more power and patriotism than any other rendition I have seen. From this point, flyovers as only the Air Force can do, soared over the stadium radiating excitement throughout the crowd. One plane began to release parachuters that carried items such as the American flag and the gameball.
We located our seats and found ourselves swarmed by Cal fans and buttressed up against the Cal band. Wearing no affiliation on my chest, I felt comfortable resting in the visitor section and welcomed the opportunity to witness some Golden Bear spirit first hand. The result of the game would offer me more from Cal than I would have expected.
Pregame thrills were the only category where Air Force dominated. California had momentum from moment the last parachuter landed. The Falcons put up a decent fight in the first half trailing only 21-14 at the break. However, so much went the way of the Golden Bears including a fumble at the goal line that the referees called a touchdown. Having goal line seats, I probably should have been wearing black and white stripes for that play, as I possessed a better vantage point.
The second half got ugly for the Wild Blue Yonder crew. With big plays and pure domination, Cal zapped 35 unanswered points upon the scoreboard as “Fight for California” played endlessly from the band. The Bears even had the edge in star power as one of their famous alumni, Adam Duritz (Counting Crows lead singer), cheered from the sideline. The final score read 56-14 and Cal wore their #13 ranking well. With another enjoyable game logged, it was time to travel north for the Colorado State vs. Colorado contest in Boulder. Being much more evenly matched, this rivalry would produce a closer outcome…