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Jack Freifelder | | August 22, 2016

Cal, Hawaii prepare for kickoff in Australia

The college football season is almost here, but the last few parting moments of the offseason are always the most grueling.

With that in mind, the first matchup of the year will take place Down Under in the 2016 College Football Sydney Cup. It will be the first college football game played in Australia since 1987, when Brigham Young defeated Colorado State 30-26 in Melbourne.

That's right, we'll be kicking off from Australia and ANZ Stadium in Sydney, where a hopefully raucous crowd will be set to take in a bout between the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the California Golden Bears.

  The Cal Golden Bears held a light practice in Sydney that featured former Cal standout Marshawn Lynch.
The game is set for a 10 p.m. ET kickoff Friday night (Aug. 26) on ESPN, but since fans will be tuning in from a bevy of time zones be sure to check your clocks. Some estimates say the game at Sydney's Olympic stadium could draw a crowd of more than 65,000, according to a report from The Associated Press' Dennis Passa.

The Rainbow Warriors left O'ahu on Saturday en route to Australia, with all 200 personnel (players, coaches and all the accoutrement included) in tow. 

First-year head coach Nick Rolovich is sure the team's collective focus is on the right goal — despite what is surely a novel travel experience. The 2016-17 campaign will be the 7th straight year Hawaii has opened against a Pac-12 opponent.

  First-year head coach Nick Rolovich will lead his Rainbow Warriors into battle on Aug. 26 against Cal.

"So far they've shown some good maturity," Rolovich said Saturday in a school release. "I think they understand the goal is not to get a stamp on their visa or their passport, their goal is to go down and play the best football we can play."

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On the other side of the ball, Cal head coach Sonny Dykes echoed the sentiment that players are "excited" but still on the trip to play football.

"The players have been really excited to get here to Sydney and have this experience," Dykes said Monday in a school release. "I don't think we've had a player on our team that's been to Australia before. It's the first time for me, too, and I know we're all excited. It's a big experience for these guys. It's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives."

After touching down in Sydney, the Bears held a quick practice that was attended by former Cal star Marshawn Lynch.

The rest of the day was spent taking in some sightseeing, which included a stop at Sydney's famous Bondi Beach. Just ask defensive tackle James Looney.

  Cal defensive tackle James Looney enjoys some fun in the sun at Bondi Beach in Sydney.

Both teams will have a pretty full schedule heading into the matchup at week's end, but the trip's itinerary also calls for a press conference at the Sydney Opera House, ferry rides in the Sydney Harbour, and a Cal team trip to climb of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

"When you have an opportunity ... to go across the world to a different continent, see a completely different culture, explore a place you might never have had an opportunity to explore, just the impact that can have on your life is great," Dykes said in an interview with the AP. "The value of that, you can't determine that."

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