BERKELEY, Calif. — The 7,500 mile trip, 17-hour time difference, and all the hoopla surrounding the first college football game played in Australia in three decades was easy.
The hard part for the Cal Bears was coming home.
“We felt great there, the real problem was getting back here,” senior quarterback Davis Webb said.
Fortunately for the Bears, they had a bye week to regroup from their globe-trotting, and by all accounts they’ve recovered from the jetlag and hangover from a trip that was punctuated with a 51-31 victory over Hawaii at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Aug. 26.
And now it’s all business for Cal as it prepares for Saturday’s matchup with San Diego State.
“We feel good now, we’ve adjusted,” Webb said. “Now we’re ready for San Diego State.”
The Bears practiced in full pads twice and had two light practice days during their bye week, Cal coach Sonny Dykes said.
“We probably needed an open week coming off of that long trip to Australia and the travel and our guys getting rolling back academically,” Dykes said. “It was good to have a little bit of time to get back in the flow last week and get back and get our feet under us.”
Getting back in the flow was especially important because the Bears missed some practices in Sydney due to bad weather and stadium issues. Dykes said he’s determined to make up for that lost time he believes was a factor in his team playing a less physical game than he expected.
“I felt that coming out of fall camp that we were a really physical football team, and then we got to Australia and we had some field issues and I felt like in some ways we lost that physical edge that we had had in camp,” Dykes said. “It felt like we needed to get it back last week.”
Senior offensive lineman Chris Borrayo might have been the only player that didn’t need to get it back. He never adjusted to the Australian time change in the first place.
“The funny thing is, coming back from Australia, I was never accustomed to the jetlag from there, so every night I’d be waking up around 5 o’clock or 6 o’clock, just trying get some more rest, ” he said. “When I got back here it took me about a day adjusted back to the time.”
Cal players took in some of the culture along with the football.
Sophomore defensive end Cameron Saffle visited Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. He and sophomore nickelback Trey Turner learned about indigenous culture during a meeting with aboriginal Australians.
“A lot of our team had never been out of the country so it was pretty awesome,” he said. “The trip was an amazing experience. It gave our team a lot of perspective.”
This story has been corrected to show score of first game was 51-31