A dominant Stanford Cardinal defense wrote the story of the 2012 Big Game, as they shut down the California Golden Bears en route to a 21-3 win. Stanford's pass rush spent much of the day in Cal's backfield, knocking Zach Maynard around and generally disrupting the Cal offense. Cal converted only a single third down, and ended the day with only three net rushing yards on 28 attempts.
Stanford's offense did most of their work in the first half, but it was more than enough to take the win. Stepfan Taylor was running downhill all day, and his hard-nosed runs helped the Cardinal run out the clock in the fourth quarter. Josh Nunes was capable if unspectacular for most of the day, going 16-for-31 for 214 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Officially, only Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas picked up sacks, but the entire Cardinal defense refused to let Cal gain any ground. Maynard was 19-for-31 for 214 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. The Cal rushing attack, ordinarily the team's strong point, was completely shut out. Isi Sofele had 13 yards on 10 carries, C.J. Anderson added another five, but three other backs combined for negative-15 to leave the squad with a net total of three.
Cal's Marc Anthony intercepted Nunes midway through the fourth quarter, but the Cardinal defense ended a long Golden Bears drive with an interception of their own, shutting the door on any chance of a comeback. Stanford was then able to run out the clock, and they head back to Palo Alto still in possession of the Stanford Axe.
Box Score Hero: Taylor carried the Cardinal offense, picking up 189 yards on 28 carries with one touchdown. Zach Ertz led the team in receiving, pulling in six catches for 134 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Rankings Ramifications: Stanford, No. 20 entering the game, could easily see their dominant performance move them up in the rankings.
But Did They Cover? Favored by two points, Stanford easily covered the spread.
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Next Week's Schedule: Cal will face the Utah Utes, while Stanford will take on the Washington State Cougars.
This story originally appeared on SB Nation.com.