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Big Game Recap: Stanford Wins 38-17

The Axe is coming home to Palo Alto where it belongs

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Fox Sports is Dreadful

The game started off with a massive debacle. Fox Sports 1 was airing the Oklahoma vs. Kansas game which was supposed to wrap up before the Big Game kicked off. The Oklahoma game, however, was delayed and Fox opted to move the Big Game over to Fox Sports 2. The only problem is that most people in the Bay Area have Comcast and Comcast does not carry Fox Sports 2 in the Bay Area. This meant that anyone not at the stadium or at a sports bar probably was not able to watch the game. It was a massive failure by Fox Sports. I have not been a big fan of Fox's coverage of college football before this happened, but this was maddening. Eventually the matter was resolved, but a lot of folks missed several key plays.

1st Quarter

Cal safety Michael Lowe was ejected on the first play from the line of scrimmage for a helmet to helmet hit. Stanford marched the ball down the field on their opening drive and scored a touchdown. Cal responded with a punt. Stanford went back down the field and kicked a field goal. Stanford took a 10-0 lead early.

Unfortunately Ty Montgomery suffered an injury and after examination was taken to the locker room. With the ejection of Cal Safety Michael Lowe and the injury to Ty Montgomery, Cal was left without their best defensive player, and Stanford was left without their best offensive player.

Towards the end of the first quarter, however Cal found a running game and worked the ball down the field and cruised into the red zone. Cal running back Daniel Lasco fumbled the ball inside the Stanford 5 and the Cardinal recovered. Stanford however was unable to capitalize and punted the ball. The first quarter ended with Stanford leading 10-0.

2nd Quarter

Cal exploited the soft Stanford defense underneath and worked the ball down the field with ease. The drive was capped off by Goff throwing a pass to Anderson for a touchdown. Cal cuts the Stanford lead 10-7 and we've got ourselves a ballgame.

Even without Montgomery, Hogan looks very confident on the next possession and the offense is moving the ball well. So far there has been very little pass rush from the Cal defense and Hogan has all kinds of time to let routes develop and go through his progressions. The Cal run defense was amazingly stout in the first half. Hogan, however, was able to slice through the Cal pass defense with relative ease and Stanford scores on a carry by Remound Wright. Stanford leads 17-7.

On Cal's next possession they once again take advantage of all the open space underneath. The Stanford defense seems content to just keep everything in front of them at this point. Then the Stanford defense does what it does best. James Vaughters hit Goff while throwing. The pass was intercepted by Blake Martinez for Cal's second turnover of the game with 4:49 left in the first half.

Stanford's ensuing possession started at their own 25. First play of the drive and Shaw dials up a reverse and Rector carried the ball for a huge gain to the 49. Two plays later in an attempt to take advantage of the weakened Cal secondary Hogan threw a deep pass toward the end zone. Unfortunately Hogan over shot his intended receiver Rector. The result is a Cal interception by Darius Wright at the Cal 5 yard line with 3:28 left in the half. It was a huge opportunity and Hogan blew it.

Cal starts the possession inside their own 5. On 2nd down Goff attempted a pass that was tipped again, this time by Peter Kalambayi. The tipped pass resulted in an interception by Blake Martinez, again. At this point in the game Blake Martinez has two interception and a forced fumble. A handful of plays later and Hogan ran the ball for a touchdown with 1:22 left in the half. Stanford leads 24-7. Things are looking good for the Cardinal headed into halftime.

3rd Quarter

Cal's opening first possession resulted in no points. Stanford took possession of the ball and marched it down the field inside the 15. Hogan is getting a lot of mileage out of Cajuste, Hooper and McCaffrey. A defensive pass interference call gave Stanford the ball at the Cal 2 yard line. The Cardinal lined up in a jumbo package and Remoud Wright punched the ball into the end zone. 31-7 Stanford leads with 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

Needing 4 scores to get back into the game Cal began getting desperate and moved away from the run and short passes that worked relatively well in the first half. Too many deep passes caught up to the Bears and with 5:19 left in the 3rd quarter Richards came up with another interception. The Stanford defense had all of 9 turnovers this entire season headed into the Big Game. The Cardinal now has 4 turnovers in the first 40 minutes of the game.

The Longest Goal Line Stand

Following the interception Stanford punted and Cal had an excellent return giving Cal great field position and a little bit of moment. After two very close runs inside the 1 yard line that were both reviewed Cal was unable to score a touchdown. An unsportsman like conduct penalty moved the ball back to the Cal 16. On 3rd and goal Goff threw a strike into the front corner of the end zone to Lawler. YET a 3rd straight review overturned the call. Stanford had jumped offsides so the result was another 3rd and goal this time from the 11. On 3rd and goal from the 11 the play was called back on a holding penalty. Finally on 3rd and goal from the 21 the pass to the endzone was broken up and Cal settles for a field. With 3 reviews and 3 penalties this might have been one of the longest goal line stands in quite some time. Stanford leads 31-10 with about a minute and half left in the 3rd quarter.

The Onside Kick

After a bizarre trip to the red zone that only scored a field goal the Bears attempted an onside kick. After a big scrum Cal recovered the kick. David Shaw challenged the ruling on the field but it stands. Cal maintains possession at their own 49. The 3rd quarter ended with Cal inside the Stanford 40. 15 minutes left in the big game and Stanford leads 31-10.

4th Quarter

For some reason, Cal has been rotating quarterbacks more frequently than Coach Shaw rotates running backs. Down by 3 touchdowns with less than 13 minutes left in the game Cal is forced to try a 4th and 9 conversion. Goff however was forced out of the pocket and tackled short of the first down marker. Stanford took over on downs with 12:24 left in the game and the clock ticking.

Stanford naturally goes heavy with the run and moves the ball well despite Cal's run defense playing stout all day. A couple of penalties later and Stanford is inside the Cal 10 with 8 minutes left in the game. After 14 straight run plays Remoud Wright runs the ball into the end zone (his 4th on the day) giving the Cardinal the lead 38-10 with 7:36 left in the game.

Cal was able to block a punt and score another touchdown in the final 7 minutes. With less than a minute left Stanford leading 38-17 Rubenzer threw another interception. It was the 5th turnover that day. Alexander returned the interception inside the Cal 5 yard line with 49 seconds left. David Shaw opts instead to take a knee. Stanford beats Cal, and becomes bowl eligible.