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Cal vs. Stanford: 115th Big Game Pregame Thread

The Bears look to regain the Axe in the 115th Big Game.

Jason O. Watson

It is that time of year. Cal vs. Stanford. Stanford vs. Cal. The Big Game, the battle for the Axe, on a crisp November Saturday before Thanksgiv....

Oh, wait. It's October 20th. And it's the Big Game? What?

Okay, yeah. It's freakish. It's the Big Game on October. But it's still the Big Game. It's Cal's chance to regain the Axe after losing the last two to Stanford and Andrew Luck. With Stanford's Luck having left for the NFL, will Stanford be able to sustain its success against the Bears?

Hopefully not. Because it's time the Axe returned to its rightful place in Berkeley. But if that is going to happen today, Cal may need to play its best game of the season against a Stanford team that is still seething from a controversial overtime loss at Notre Dame last week. Cal, meanwhile, is as confident as it has been all season long, coming off a two-game winning streak to inject hope into a season that looked like a lost cause after the Bears got off to a dismal 1-4 start.

But you know what? Throw the records out the window anyway. It's the Big Game. Let's get it on and see who comes away with the Axe. This is your pregame thread. Chatter and woof away as we wait for kickoff. More game info below.


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Saturday, Oct. 20, 12:00 p.m. (PT)
Cal (3-4, 2-2) vs. Stanford (4-2, 2-1)
Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA

Live Coverage
TV: FOX - Craig Bollerjack (Play-by-Play), Joel Klatt (Analyst), Petros Papadakis (Sideline Reporter)

Cal Commercial Radio: KGO 810 AM (San Francisco) - Joe Starkey (Play-by-Play), Mike Pawlawski (Analyst, *Pregame Show), Todd McKim (Sideline, *Pregame Show), Lee Grosscup (^Postgame Show), Matt Foley (^Postgame Show)
Postgame Show: Claremont Hotel Club & Spa, 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, CA
IMG College/Cal Radio Network Affiliates: *KFPT 790 AM (Fresno), KGO 810 AM (San Francisco), +KLAA 830 AM (Los Angeles), KRAK 910 AM (Los Angeles), KAHI 950 AM (Sacramento), KESP 970 AM (Modesto), KFIG 1430 AM (Fresno), XEPE 1700 AM (San Diego)
^Primary, *Secondary; +game will be preempted on Saturday, Oct. 20

All-Access Radio: The Cal commercial radio broadcast of the Golden Bears' game vs. Stanford can be heard on the Internet through the All-Access channel on All-Access can be found under the Multimedia tab at the top of the page at

Cal Student Radio: KALX 90.7 FM, (Berkeley) - Isaac Wolf (Play-by-Play), Josh Toyofuku (Analyst), Anthony Manzella (Analyst)

Sirius XM Satellite Radio:Cal's commercial radio broadcast feed of the Big Game against Stanford can be heard on Sirius XM satellite radio on channel 137 on Sirius and channel 195 on XM. Visit for complete coverage of Cal football, including a live play-by-play update via Gametracker.

We get Petros Papadakis as a sideline reporter?!? Well, yippee!

On offense, Stanford has not been as good as you might have expected. The Cardinal rank a pedestrian 80th in FBS in passing yards per game, 78th in rushing yards per game, and 61st in scoring per game (despite having scored 54 against Arizona). Do these guys miss Andrew Luck that much? Well, duh! ManBearCal previewed the Stanford offense and highlighted just how much.


STARTER: Josh Nunes, Senior - 6'4, 225 lbs

Andrew Luck left some big, goofy shoes...and Nunes has done a poor job filling them thus far. On the season, Nunes has thrown for 1270 yards, 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions...while completing just 53.3% of his passes. Zach Maynard has completed 61.8% of his passes. Just for some perspective...Nunes had a 61.8% completion percentage against Arizona, and it was his highest of the season. Just to take this a tad further...Maynard is 57th among FBS quarterbacks with a QB rating of 134.38. Nunes? 93rd with a QBR of 119.07. Andrew Luck was 5th nationally in 2011 with a QBR of 169.7. To say Nunes has been erratic would be an understatement. To say he's been a significantstep down from Luck is also an understatement. And it's not like Nunes had been constantly under fire either; he's only been sacked 6 times this season. As you'd guess, he relies heavily on a good running game (good...not great), and two quality tight ends in the passing game. He's demonstrated an ability to make some plays with his legs when has to; running for 3 touchdowns against Arizona back in week 5. Probably worth noting that Nunes has been atrocious away from the Farm; completing just 48% of his passes and throwing 3 picks to no touchdowns. Based on that, it's should come as no surprise that Stanford is 0-2 in road games this season. Hmm...

Okay. Suffice it to say that Josh Nunes is not an absolute magician. So if the Cal defense plays well, there is a chance that the Bears can neutralize the Stanford offense. But can the Bears take advantage and score points? That is no easy task, as the Stanford defense is a good one, notwithstanding the fact that it gave up 48 points and a ton of years to the Arizona Rich Rodriguezes a couple of weeks ago. norcalnick previewed the Stanford defense:

This Season

  • 288 yards allowed (4.65 yards/play) in a 20-17 win over San Jose State
  • 385 yards allowed (4.48 yards/play) in a 50-13 win over Duke
  • 280 yards allowed (4.06 yards/play) in a 21-14 win over USC
  • 313 yards allowed (4.40 yards/play) in a 17-13 loss to Washington
  • 617! yards allowed (5.99!! yards/play) in a 54!!!-48 win over Arizona
  • 334 yards allowed (4.64 yards/play) in a 20-13 loss to Notre Dame

In five games this season the Stanford defense has been remarkably consistent no matter the quality of the opposition. Duke and San Jose St. faired almost exactly as well as USC and Notre Dame. About 300 total yards, about 4 to 4.5 yards/play, and somewhere in the range of 17 points.

Except Arizona. For the life of me I can't figure out what happened to Stanford against Arizona. That game might be the single biggest outlier performance in the Pac-12 so far this season. It makes absolutely no sense. Presumably there's something in that game for the Cal coaching staff to look at, but I have no clue if Cal's offense can do what Rich Rodriguez's offense can do.

I wouldn't expect Cal to suddenly go all Rich Rodriguez on us. But what we can hope for is for the Bears to continue the success on offense that it has experienced during the last two games. That's no easy task against arguably the toughest defense the Bears will have faced all season.