Big Game 2011: Stanford Defeats Cal, 31-28

The Stanford Cardinal look to retain the Axe for the second straight year when they face the California Golden Bears in the 114th Big Game to try and keep their BCS hopes alive.

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Andrew Luck Heisman Watch: Breaking Down Stanford Vs. Cal

Saturday night's annual Big Game between arch-rivals the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears was something of a nail-biter. It ended up being another classic case of shaky first-half Andrew Luck being trundled off during halftime and replaced by collected, clutch Andrew Luck. It's a curious thing, but Luck has usually managed to make it work out in his favor most of the time.

Luck helped Stanford to a 31-28 victory which was closer than he or Stanford would have liked, but it was a much-needed victory and combined with an Oregon Ducks loss, kept the hopes of a Cardinal Rose Bowl alive for at least one more week.

Although Luck was held to just 81 yards and no touchdowns in the first half, he came alive in the third and fourth quarters. He finished the game 20-for-30 with 257 passing yards and touchdowns to Levine Toilolo and Ryan Hewitt. His leading receiver was Coby Fleener, who had 65 yards on four catches.

The bad news is that Luck had such a bad first half, which included an interception, making this the only time in his playing career that he has thrown an interception in four straight games. The good news is that he had such a turnaround second half, and was able to lead Stanford to a key victory. And any victory is definitely good news for Stanford fans.

To discuss Andrew luck's current Heisman chances, chew the fat with your fellow fans at Rule of Tree.

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Big Game 2011: Jordan Williamson Field Goal And Poor Cal Clock Management Secure 31-28 Stanford Win

The annual Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears came down to the fourth quarter and a clutch field goal in adverse conditions from a redshirt freshman.

The No. 9 Stanford Cardinal were ultimately victorious b y a final score to 31-28. Cal came within seven points following a fourth quarter pass from Zach Maynard to Spencer Hagan and a two-point conversion. With three minutes left in the quarter, and the rain driving down, freshman kicker Jordan Williamson nailed a 35 yard field goal that would put the Cardinal on top by ten points, and ultimately prove to be the difference in the game.

As the clock ran down, Cal quarterback Zach Maynard led the Golden Bears on a lengthy drive toward the end zone that was aided by two Stanford pass interference penalties. It took Cal nearly three minutes to make a 74 yard drive that ended with a C.J. Anderson short run for a touchdown, but poor clock management by the Golden Bears meant they would be left with only 0:14 to attempt an onside kick and try for a field goal to send the game to overtime. Unfortunately, in a somewhat anticlimactic end to such a tense game, Cal's onside kick was recovered immediately by Stanford, keeping the coveted Stanford axe safe at home in Palo Alto and giving them the win in the 2011 Big Game.

To discuss all things Golden Bears, please visit California Golden Blogs. To talk about the Cardinal, head over to Rule of Tree.

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Big Game 2011: Andrew Luck Helps Stanford To 28-13 Lead Over Cal Entering Fourth Quarter

The Stanford Cardinal are hosting the California Golden Bears in the annual Big Game. Both teams are looking to prove far more than dominance over their division rival. The Golden Bears are looking to make a statement that they are far better than their 3-4 Pac-12 record would indicate. The Cardinal, meanwhile, are hoping to keep their bowl game hopes alive, and will be playing the second half armed with the knowledge that the Oregon Ducks have already lost this week's game.

Through the third quarter, it appears as though Stanford has found more motivation than has Cal. True to form, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has come out with guns blazing in the second half. Many games this season have featured a shaky Luck in the first half and a dominant Luck after halftime. Much to the chagrin of Cal, it is shaping up to be yet another one of those games. Luck led the Cardinal on two long scoring drives in the third quarter. The first ended in a touchdown pass from Luck to Levine Toilolo and the second ended in Luck connecting with Ryan Hewitt in the end zone. Stanford leads 28-13 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Stanford defense has also come alive, shutting down Cal completely in the third quarter and Jarek Lancaster registering an enormous sack of Cal quarterback Zach Maynard on a fourth down conversion attempt that allowed the Cardinal to take over the ball at midfield. Entering the fourth quarter, Stanford is sporting a healthy 15-point lead.

For more on Stanford, please visit Rule of Tree. For all things Cal, head over to California Golden Blogs.

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Big Game 2011: Tyler Gaffney Gives Stanford Slim 14-13 Lead Over Cal At Halftime

The annual Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears is living up to its storied history between these two Pac-12 rivals. At halftime, the Cardinal are clinging to a slim 14-13 lead.

Giorgio Tavecchio was able to nail his second field goal of the game toward the beginning of the second quarter to put the Golden Bears on top, 13-7. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck had, to that point, been looking hurried and harried.

Midway through the second quarter, Stanford was able to put together a 78 yard drive that ended in a 6 yard Tyler Gaffney touchdown rush to put the Cardinal back on top.

At halftime, Luck only has 81 passing yards and an interception, completing only eight of 15 pass attempts.Cal quarterback Zach Maynard, meanwhile, is 11-for-14 with 168 yards and a touchdown. This game is anything but over, and right now the outcome of the 2011 Big Game is up in the air.

To discuss matter pertaining to Cal, please visit California Golden Blogs. To opine about the Cardinal, head over to Rule of Tree.

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Big Game 2011: Zach Maynard To Keenan Allen Gives Cal 10-7 Lead Over Struggling Andrew Luck, Stanford

The Stanford Cardinal are hoping to stay on the winning track and keep their bowl game hopes alive as they host the California Golden Bears. Through the first quarter, Cal is taking it right to their arch-rivals and are leading by a score of 10-7.

Stanford took the early 7-0 lead on a 34 yard Ty Montgomery touchdown run. The Golden Bears scored on a 25 yard field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio midway through the quarter and then took the lead two minutes later on a 17 yard touchdown pass from Cal quarterback Zach Maynard to his half-brother, wide receiver Keenan Allen.

The Cal defense is keeping the pressure on Cardinal quarterback and Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck, who has now thrown an interception in four straight games for the first time in his career. Luck only has 36 passing yards through the first quarter with no touchdowns and an interception.

To keep up to date with the Cardinal, pleas visit Rule of Tree. For all things Cal, please visit California Golden Blogs.

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Big Game 2011: Kickoff Time, TV Schedule And More

The Big Game is here. The annual rivalry between the California Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinal has huge BCS implications this time around and both sides are hungry for a victory. These two programs and fan bases do not like each other at all and one should expect all of the stops to be pulled out on Saturday.

Start Time: Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. from beautiful Palo Alto. 

TV Coverage: ESPN will cover the game live. Carter Blackburn will handle the play-by-play duties, Brock Huard will serve as the analyst and Shelley Smith will report from the sidelines.

Radio Coverage: KGO 810 will have the game across the Bay Area. Joe Starkey and Troy Taylor will call the game.

Weather Forecast: It will be a chilly night for football once kickoff rolls around. Temperatures will be in the mid-40's throughout the game, though no rain is in the forecast.

Opening Line: Stanford is favored by 20 points this weekend.

Team Sites: Rule Of TreeCal Golden Blogs

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Big Game 2011 Injury Report: Chris Owusu, Zach Ertz Will Not Play

The Big Game is here and it comes with big BCS implications in 2011.

After a tough loss to Oregon, the Stanford Cardinal are looking to take their frustrations out on their rival and get back on track for a big time bowl game. For the Cal Golden Bears, a win over the Cardinal would be huge for the program and could propel them into a much better bowl game next month.

The Cardinal will be without two of their best receiving options with Chris Owusu and tight end Zach Ertz ruled out for the game. Other than these two, though, Stanford will be healthy heading into the Pac-12 showdown.

California has been relatively healthy throughout the season and will only be without linebackers Chris McCain and David Wilkerson later this evening. The Bears will need all hands on deck if they hope to pull the huge upset.

For more on this game, head on over to Rule Of Tree and Cal Golden Blogs.

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Big Game 2011: Andrew Luck and Griff Whalen, An Unlikely Combination That Works

There is no denying that Andrew Luck is one of the better collegiate quarterbacks of the past decade. His arm strength is impressive, his accuracy is unparalleled and his leadership on the field is something to behold.

Every quarterback needs a big-time wide receiver to throw to. Despite a slow start to the season, Griff Whalen is emerging as that player for Luck. Kevin Gemmell of ESPN has the story.

Whalen got off to a sluggish start in the first quarter of the season, catching just nine balls for 101 yards with no touchdowns through the first four games. He also caught just 56 percent of the balls thrown his way.

But over the past six games, Whalen has been solid and reliable, catching 36 balls for 540 yards and four touchdowns. More importantly, he's catching the ball 76 percent of the time he's targeted during that stretch. He also leads the Cardinal in total catches with 45 for 641 yards.

"The last month of the season we've leaned on him more and we've put him in positions and he continues to impress us," Shaw said. "Even against guys that are considered better athletes and faster and bigger. The guy just gets open and catches the ball."

With an iffy Cal secondary, the Luck-to-Whalen connection could happen early and often. While no one is expecting the Cardinal to shy away from their many tight ends, Whalen gives the offense a different dimension that it did not have two months ago.

For more on this game, check out Rule of Tree and Cal Golden Blogs.

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Big Game 2011: When Stanford and Cal Play, Fans Should Expect The Unexpected

When the California Golden Bears and Stanford Cardinal play, fans always expect a heated battle between two bitter rivals. With the Cardinal hoping for BCS bowl bid in 2011, the game will be even a little bigger than usual this weekend.

Throughout history, The Big Game has delivered some incredible moments for both programs. As Kevin Gemmell chronicles, the battle of the Bay Area has had a history of unpredictability. Here are a few of the more wacky and memorable games in the rivalry:

1982: The Play. Enough said.

1990: Known as "The Revenge" John Hopkins connected on a 39-yard field goal as time expired, leading Stanford to a 27-25 win. But it was the series of events that led up to the field goal that were so dramatic. Jason Palumbis hit Ed McCaffrey for a touchdown with 12 seconds left, but Stanford missed the two-point conversion and trailed 25-24. Cal fans stormed the field, which led to a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff -- and Stanford recovered the onside kick. A questionable (depending which colors you wear) roughing the passer call turned a 54-yard field goal into a 39-yard field goal which Hopkins nailed to close out the game.

Will this year's version of The Big Game become an instant classic just as so many have in the past? For all the analysis and predictions that will be made by the experts this week, just remember one thing: expect the unexpected on Saturday.

For more on the showdown, check out California Golden Blogs and Rule Of Tree.

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Big Game 2011: Can Stanford QB Andrew Luck Take Advantage Of Injured Cal Linebackers?

The California Golden Bears need all hands on deck to contain Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal this Saturday. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that'll be the case. Cal was without their outside linebackers Chris McCain and Dave Wilkerson last week against Oregon State. And John Breech of CBS Sports reports that both of them haven't practiced and are doubtful for the Big Game this weekend.

With McCain out, Cal is down their best pass rusher, and Wilkerson is emerging as one of their most reliable outside tacklers in space. This puts the older but less talented Ryan Davis and Dan Camporeale on the outside. It could mean Cal returns to a 4-3 defensive front (which they flashed last week against OSU with such minimal linebacking depth). They can put Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu in 4-3 DE spots while rotating Aaron Tipoti (back to practicing), Kendrick Payne (Tipoti's backup), DeAndre Coleman (in a more natural defensive tackle position) and Vei Moala (the young talented freshman) to try and outphysical Stanford's bruising front.

Cal might try and use their defensive line talent to stuff the run and Stepfan Taylor. It remains to be seen whether they can they stop Luck and the Stanford pass attack if they aren't able to generate the pass rush needed to pressure him out of the pocket.

To discuss the Big Game with Cal fans, check out the California Golden Blogs. To discuss it with Stanford fans, hit up Rule of Tree.

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Big Game 2011: Can The Cal Running Game Keep Andrew Luck Off The Field?

The California Golden Bears have struggled to try balancing the offense all season. The Cal offensive line has improved as the season has gone on, but struggled in pass protecting the quarterback.  Zach Maynard has been decent at times and horrid at others, and was directly responsible for two defeats against the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins when he coughed up multiple turnovers.

But in Cal's last two victories against Oregon State and Washington State, the Bears turned to the ground game and wiped the mat with their opponents. Cal used a platoon of Isi Sofele, C.J. Anderson and occasional doses of Mike Manuel, Will Kapp, Covaughn Deboskie-Johnson and Brendan Bigelow, and amassed nearly 300 yards of rushing on each occasion. The run blocking has improved game-by-game, which has bode well for the Cal rush attack.

While Cal can't be expected to do the same this Saturday against a pretty solid Stanford Cardinal front, anywhere from 150-200 yards from Sofele and Anderson could help open up the passing game, and unleash potent weapons like Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones on the outside and Anthony Miller inside. Ball control could be critical (just like in Cal's 2009 upset of Stanford) in keeping Andrew Luck from doing the deadly damage needed to beat up the Cal defense.

Cal is not going to have an easy time trying to exploit Stanford's speed like Oregon did, but they might need to use some of the same tricks and stay committed to the ground to notch the win.

To discuss Cal football, check out the California Golden Blogs. To discuss Stanford football, check Rule of Tree.

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Cal Vs. Stanford, Big Game 2011: Andrew Luck Seeks Winning Record Against Golden Bears In Third Match-Up

The Stanford Cardinal and Cal Golden Bears are preparing for the 114th edition of the Big Game this weekend. Stanford looks to rebound from a disappointing 53-30 loss to the Oregon Ducks last week and improve its BCS ranking while Cal hopes to play the role of spoiler and hand Stanford its first losing streak in two seasons. Both sides have motivation to win, but Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck may have more on the table than most others involved in this game.

To date, Luck is 1-1 against Cal. He lost 34-28 at home to the Golden Bears back in 2009, during his first season as a starter.Luck completed just 33.33% of his passes (10-of-30) in the game for 157 yards and one interception.

Last year, Luck got revenge by completing 80% of his passes (16-of-20) to help Stanford cruise to a 48-14 victory. Luck passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns while leading his team to scores on all eight of the possessions that he was on the field for.

Saturday's game presents Luck with a chance to secure a winning record over rival Cal. It also gives Luck the chance to bounce back from last week's loss to the Ducks in a big way.

Cal has experienced its fair share of struggles this year but enters this contest with a two-game winning streak. The team has outscored opponents by 40 points during that stretch and will be motivated against a Stanford squad that just endured a big loss.

Both teams will be focused and ready on Saturday. For Luck, winning Saturday's game could help secure his legacy at Stanford as one of the best- if not the best- quarterback in Cardinals history.

For more on Luck and Stanford, click through to Rule of Tree. For more on Cal, check out California Golden Blogs.

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Big Game 2011 Odds: Cardinal Open As Heavy Favorites Over Bears

The Big Game is one of the better rivalry games played every season and it comes with big BCS implications in 2011. Despite their rough loss last week, the Stanford Cardinal are hungry to knock off their Bay Area foes and move back up in the polls. And while the Cal Golden Bears may not have lived up to expectations this year, a win over the highly ranked Cardinal could propel them to a big bowl game.

Heading into the week, Stanford entered as heavy favorites. According to Odds Shark, Andrew Luck and the Cardinal will be favored by 20 points on Saturday. Various gambling websites such as Bodog and 5 Dimes have the spread slightly lower at 19 points.

The spread may seem high, but you have to expect Andrew Luck, Stepfan Taylor and Co. to come out angry and ready to release some of their frustrations out on an iffy Cal defense. At the same time, though, if Stanford presses and plays errant football, the Bears could use it to their advantage and just might sneak away with a huge conference victory.

For more on the game, check out California Golden Blogs and Rule Of Tree.

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Big Game 2011: Stanford Looks To Keep BCS Hopes Alive Against Cal

The Stanford Cardinal look to retain the Axe for the second straight year when they face the California Golden Bears in the 114th Big Game to try and keep their BCS hopes alive.

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