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The Stanford D plays BIG in the 121st Big Game

The Cardinal beat the Bears 23-13 in Berkeley on a tough, and clutch defensive performance.

Stanford v California Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Stanford Cardinal (8-4 / 6-3 PAC 12) finished their season exactly as they had hoped, by retaining “The Axe” with a 23-13 win on the road over their arch-rival CAL (7-5 / 4-5 PAC 12). The victory extends the longest winning streak in the 127 year history of the rivalry to nine games, and continues Stanford head coach David Shaw’s incredible perfect record of 8-0 vs. the extremely disliked (Not ‘hated’, as there is no more room left in the world for that word) Bears. Believe it or not that means more to coach Shaw than anyone, as he was a three sport athlete on The Farm long before he was the football Field General.

In regard to Coach Shaw’s ’18 regiment, it was the defense that played big in this, the 121st Big Game. Stanford super sophomore cornerback Paulson Adebo (4 tackles / 2 INT / 2 PD) made two clutch 4th quarter interceptions, one a circus grab in the endzone to prevent the tying score. He is not a star in the making any longer, he is simply a star.

Senior linebackers Bobby Okereke (14 tackles / 1 sack / 1 TFL / 1 PD) and Sean Barton (10 tackles / 2 QBH / 1 fumble recovered) were the other two key players defensively that helped produce this ideal result for the Cardinal. It is only fitting that these two seniors played their best games in their last Big Game, as they have both given their heart and soul to the Stanford program over these past years.

Cardinal sophomore outside linebacker Gabe Reid (5 tackles / 3 TFL / 2 sacks / 1 QBH) also had an impressive day on the gridiron. Alongside Adebo, junior OLB Jordan Fox (6 tackles / 1 QBH), junior safety Malik Antoine (6 tackles / 1 PD), and junior defensive end Jovan Swann (2 tackles / 1 QBH), Reid will be expected to help lead this defense in ’19.

The Stanford offense as a whole could never quite find their rhythm in this contest, but as he always seems to, senior all-conference wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (5 receptions / 109 yards / 21.8 YPR) made enough big plays to come out on top. JAW$ as he is referred to on The Farm, has an amazing ability to use his body to create space, as well as some of the best hands in college football. He will be an asset to whichever NFL franchise scoops him up next year, likely in the 1st or 2nd round of the draft.

Cardinal junior quarterback K.J. Costello (18 for 29 passing / 237 yards / 1 TD / 71.7 QBR) had an effective day behind center, and while he missed a few throws along the way, he most importantly did not turn the ball over. Coming back in 2019, Costello is expected to be the top QB in the conference.

Stanford senior All-World running back Bryce Love (22 carries / 74 yards / 3.4 YPC / 2 receptions / 19 yards / 9.5 YPR) has played injured all season, and looked like a shell of himself in this matchup. All the same, he has created a legendary legacy on The Farm, and along with all the other seniors finishes 4-0 vs. their arch-enemy CAL.

One of those fellow seniors, jack-of-all-trades RB/WR/KR/special teamer Cameron Scarlett (4 carries / 12 yards / 1 TD / 3.0 YPC / 3 receptions / 54 receiving yards / 1 receiving TD / 18.0 YPR / 1 KR for 27 yards), again did the dirty work for his side. With Love battling a severe injury all year, Scarlett always showed up to work with his boots laced tight. I have a great deal of respect for his toughness, athleticism, and humble nature.

For the Bears, it was without question a quality defensive performance. Junior LB Evan Weaver (15 tackles / 1 PD) has been one of the best linebackers in the PAC-12 all year, and he had another impressive effort against the Cardinal on Saturday.

Going forward Stanford (8-4) plays Pitt (7-6) in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on December 31st, which will make this a great New Year Holiday for the entire Stanford faithful. Separately, CAL (7-5) will play TCU (6-6) in the Cheez-It Bowl on 12/26 in Phoenix.

As always, win or lose, ROLL RED.