One goal set by the Cal seniors this season was to go to a bowl game. After coming up just shy last season, nobody on Cal’s roster is taking this upcoming bowl trip to play Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl for granted. Senior offensive lineman Jordan Rigsbee is certainly one not to this trip lightly.
“It means everything to me,” Rigsbee said this week when discussing Cal’s bowl announcement with the media. “That’s what you strive for and it’s kind of frustrating as a true freshman we made a bowl game, you kind of thought that’s how it was going to be and you know it wasn’t the case but we’ve had to fight tooth, nail, claw or whatever it takes so it feels real nice after all the years and all the work we had to do to get back where we wanted to be.”
Cal went to the Holiday Bowl in 2011, and lost to Texas. The Golden Bears did not go to a bowl game in any of the three seasons since, putting the pressure on this senior class to get into the postseason. For many, this will be the first bowl trip, but Rigsbee had an extra year of eligibility. Rigsbee also has some close family insider information on the Armed Forces Bowl. His older brother, Tyler, played in the bowl game in 2007 (a victory over, you guessed it, Air Force).
“We’re always talking and talking and when we went through that hard patch there and you know as you start to lose some games some things go out of the picture like the Pac-12 Championship game,” Rigsbee explained. “My brother was just telling me, ‘it doesn’t matter. All that matters is you make a bowl game and you end your season on that bowl game and everyone is going to have a great time and something you’re going to remember forever.’ So just that knowledge and knowing that whatever it takes to get to the bowl game was our mentality this year and I’m really happy we made that happen.”
Air Force had a solid season this fall that saw the Falcons win the Mountain Division in the Mountain West Conference, which included a victory over Boise State along the way. Air Force took a loss on the road in the Mountain West Conference championship game against San Diego State. Air Force can pose a threat defensively, but Cal’s offense should have more than enough firepower to lead to the first bowl victory since 2008 in the Emerald Bowl.
“I know what we’re capable of,” Rigsbee said. “And I think as the years go by people leave, people come back but this is going to be our last game with this offense and this will be the last time this group of guys ever plays together. So I think we’re all really looking forward to going to Texas and putting on a show and really putting everything together. The O-line, running backs and receivers and put it all together for one last game and really show the country what were all about and what we’re made of.”
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.