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Big Game: The Stanford vs Cal Rivalry

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Looking at the Last Decade of “The Big Game”

California v Stanford Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

My dad and his friends went to the Stanford vs Cal game in 1982, and after seeing “The Play,” one of my dad’s friends read in the paper the next day that it was considered the greatest game of all time. Sitting next to my dad, he then closed the paper, looked at my father, and said, “I’ll never go to another football game ever again.” Thirty four years later, my dad’s friend has become a world renown physics professor and has been adamant to his word. Let’s revisit what my dad’s friend has missed over the last ten years.

2006: The Cardinal finished the season 1-11 after losing to the Golden Bears. Harbaugh had not arrived on the Farm yet, and Stanford was no match for the star studded Bears. Still however, Stanford put up somewhat of a fight as they lost 26-17.

2007: Stanford broke Cal’s winning streak as Harbaugh arrived to the Farm. The win capped a promising year for the Cardinal as they beat two rivals in USC and Cal. In the game, Stanford’s defense was stout and lead the team to a 20-13 victory, and the team reclaimed The Axe for the first time in six years.

2008: Remember Jhavid Best? he ran in this year’s Olympics after concussions in the pros. In this game, he ran all over the Stanford defense. He exploded for 201 yards and three touchdowns as Cal won 37-16.

2009: In my opinion, this was the most interesting and exciting Big Game in recent years. Stanford was potentially on the verge of making the Rose Bowl and had a chance to win the game with less than two minutes left. Heisman runner up Toby Gerhart bulldozed through the Cal defense setting up the Cardinal in the red zone. Everyone expected Toby Gerhart to get the ball and run into the end zone for his fourth touchdown, but Jim Harbaugh thought differently. Andrew Luck threw an interception on the three yard line, and Stanford lost 34-28.

2010: Stanford started their current winning streak at the start of a new decade. Stanford dominated and won 48-14. Andrew Luck did everything for the Cardinal as he led the team in rushing and even demolished a Cal defender during a run.

2011: In Andrew Luck’s last Big Game, Stanford won 31-28 in a close game. Stanford led all game, and Luck threw a pair touchdowns. David Shaw won his first Big Game and hasn’t looked back since.

2012: No Andrew Luck. No problem. Stanford played Cal in October in 2012, which was quite strange, but still pulled out an easy victory. The defense held Cal to only three points, and Stepfan Taylor had a breakout performance. He ran for 189 yards, and Josh Nunes threw for a touchdown. Yes, Josh Nunes was still the starter.

2013: 63-13 Stanford. Five Ty Montgomery touchdowns. Enough said. Let’s move on.

2014: Despite it being a down year for Stanford, the Cardinal managed to get past the Golden Bears easily. Blake Martinez led the team on defense with two interceptions and a forced fumble as Stanford won 38-17.

2015: Stanford had a bounce back season in 2015 and looked to keep their slim playoff hopes alive versus Cal. It was pretty easy with Christian McCaffrey leading the way. In the game, Christian McCaffrey made Cal suffer. He ran for 192 yards and caught a 49 yard touchdown pass. McCaffrey made Cal defenders look flat footed and silly as Stanford won 35-22. Bryce Love got into the action as well with a 48 yard touchdown. Former Cal Bear Brennan Scarlett even held The Axe for the first time as he transferred to Stanford for his final year of eligibility.

Stanford looks to hold onto The Axe for another year on Saturday. Maybe my dad’s friend will finally watch a game...but it’s doubtful.

Go Stanford!

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