The 2012 Big Game might be starting a little bit earlier than usual. Instead of taking place as the last or next-to-last game of the season, the California Golden Bears will be battling the Stanford Cardinal on the third week of October. Despite the earlier start to the season, both Cal and Stanford will be playing for a lot.
Cal head coach Jeff Tedford has plenty to worry about considering his job security. The Bears are currently a game below .500 and a loss would put them in a tough situation to win at least six games and get to another bowl game. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News files this report.
A victory Saturday would validate their midseason turnaround and open a reasonable path to the postseason: The Bears would become bowl eligible by taking care of Utah (2-4) and Washington (3-3).
At the same time, a loss to Stanford would erase the Bears momentum and put them in the situation they want to avoid: Having to beat No. 2 Oregon or No. 8 Oregon State to become bowl-eligible.
That would mean two losing seasons in three years for Tedford, and could spell his end in Berkeley.
Meanwhile, Stanford isn't facing such dire straits, but a loss in the Big Game would really set their season back. More from Wilner.
Stanford controls its destiny: Run the table, and it wins the North.
But a loss in Berkeley– especially if the loss involves more woeful offense – would wipe away the last remnants of Stanford’s early-season momentum.
The Cardinal would be one game over .500 with two cupcakes (Washington State and Colorado) and then a brutal finishing stretch: Oregon State, at Oregon, at UCLA.
The Cardinal still are very much alive for the Pac-12 North crown. But a loss against Cal really could trip them up.