Cal Poly football fans in excess of 8,400 flocked to Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Saturday night. That means more than 8,400 displaced fans this weekend, as fans will have to endure a bye week.
James Noble will not fake any linebackers out of their shoes, Kyle Shotwell will not stick any opposing running backs into a grass grave and there will be no fans lining up outside the stadium and on the lawns surrounding the field trying to catch a glimpse of the action.
What is the Cal Poly fan to do? Here are the top three options to compensate for the bye week:
1. No. 20 Cal Poly vs. UC Santa Barbara, volleyball
The storyline: The Gauchos have won the Big West Conference four years in a row. This rivalry used to be one of the most noteworthy on the Central Coast back in the 1980s. In 1984 and 1985, Cal Poly reached No. 1 in the national polls and knocked the Gauchos out of the NCAA Tournament four times in the 1980s.
Cal Poly was a big-time volleyball school until the “Dark Ages” in 2003 and 2004, but the program has rebounded and now it’s the Gauchos going through hard times. The Gauchos aren’t nearly the powerhouse they’ve been in years past, but they’re playing to keep their Big West title hopes alive – and coach Kathy Gregory is one of the best around, so the match should be competitive.
Why you should go: There are two reasons to check this one out: Volleyball is about the best athletic program on campus. Being ranked No. 20 of all Division I teams is no joke. Reason No. 2: It’s a rivalry game. UC Santa Barbara is the geographic rival for Cal Poly. Everyone remembers playing against your cross-town rival in high school, the intensity that such games arouse. The wild-card reason to see this game: The team is fun to watch. I hadn’t been to a volleyball match in my life last year. I thought it was going to be boring. That match happened to be when Cal Poly upset the Gauchos last season.
2. Cal Poly vs. UC Santa Barbara, men’s soccer
I don’t know why this game had to be scheduled concurrently with the volleyball match, but if Mott Gym doesn’t catch your eye, treat yourself to a different rivalry match. This game offers a different kind of element: David vs. Goliath. First-year head coach Paul Holocher and his Mustangs nearly upset No. 22 UC Irvine, falling 1-0 to the Anteaters on Sept. 30. They fell to the Gauchos 2-0 earlier this season, but the Mustangs should be hungry to avenge that loss with a home crowd behind them.
Adding to the soccer storyline has been the success of a pair of UC Santa Cruz transfers who, in the wake of Holocher’s hiring, sought to rejoin their former coach. Julian Alvarez and Jeff Meyer Jr. have been two of the top weapons for the Mustangs this year after playing Division II ball a year ago – and they’re both sophomores. Holocher seems to have the program heading in the right direction.
3. Cal Poly Invitational, cross country
Why, you might ask, would you want to get up at 9 a.m. to watch people run up hills and on trails? Why not?
The men’s “A” team will be out of town for Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., but the “B” team is pretty legit and the young women’s squad has plenty of potential. OK, I’m biased, but if you happen to be awake Saturday morning, give in to the temptation and go watch Cal Poly’s elite runners.