BERKELEY, Calif. — Star receiver Keenan Allen said he understands the thoughts running through the minds of many Cal football fans now that the $321 million Memorial Stadium renovation is complete.

BERKELEY, Calif. — Star receiver Keenan Allen said he understands the thoughts running through the minds of many Cal football fans now that the $321 million Memorial Stadium renovation is complete.

"We kind of got the picture that there's a catch with the stadium being built-we have to win games," Allen said. "No more excuses. We have everything in place for us. That's definitely OK."

As the Golden Bears prepare for Saturday's opener against Nevada after a 21-month absence from their home field, they are not merely aware of the heightened expectations, they embrace them.

Senior quarterback Zach Maynard said the Bears feel a debt to their fans, and even to the construction crew that retooled the now 63,000-seat Memorial Stadium, providing seismic safety and game-day amenities that meet modern standards.

"We have to win. I feel like it's mandatory," Maynard said. "I wouldn't say it's negative pressure-it's pressure we need for us to get back on the right track and put us where we need to be."

The Bears expect to be more successful this fall than the past two seasons, when they were 7-6 in 2011 and 5-7 in 2010 — their only losing record in coach Jeff Tedford's 10 seasons. Allen, a freshman at the time, called that season "embarrassing."

With Allen, Maynard and a deep corps of running backs returning on offense, and a fast and talented but less-experienced defense, the Bears believe they can exceed preseason projections, most of which envision Cal finishing fourth in the Pac-12 North.

"I think we can be as great as we want to be," Maynard said,

Most Cal fans would settle for the Bears being as good as they were just a few seasons ago. Tedford inherited a program in total disarray and delivered its best five-year run in more than a half-century.

His first five teams were 43-20, including 27-14 in conference games. They finished among the top three in the conference standings three times.

The past five years, Cal is 36-28, including just 21-24 in conference play.