Any time the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears meet, the stakes are high, but Saturday's 115th contest of The Big Game is important to each team for specific reasons.
Stanford comes into the contest after an overtime loss to Notre Dame a week ago. The Cardinal are now 4-2 on the season and still raked in the top 25 at No. 20. Quarterback Josh Nunes and the Cardinal offense have not scored a touchdown on the road this season, so Saturday's rivalry game away from Palo Alto will be a test to see if they can get back on track.
Todd Husak, for the Stanford blog Rule of Tree, looked into the things that the Cardinal need to do to carry their strong offense into road games. One of his points was being able to hit big plays:
Stanford has had 11 plays this season go for 40 or more yards. Unfortunately, 5 of those are from the defense and special teams. Last season, Stanford had 7 different players with a carry over 30 yards ... this season, only two have done it. If the Cardinal cannot sustain long drives that finish in the end zone, they need to get back ability to rip off big chunks of yards on the ground or through the air.
For Cal, The Big Game provides an opportunity to build momentum after a slow start to the season. The Bears have won their last two games, but are still 3-4 on the season. At the Cal blog, California Golden Blogs, Avinash Kunnath writes that the outcome of Saturday's rivalry game could determine the future of head coach Jeff Tedford, saying, "after a 3-4 start to the season, Tedford's tenure at Cal beyond this season could very well rest on whether he can bring the Axe back to Berkeley." He goes on to say:
It's gotten to the point where a bowl-less season for California could spell the end for Tedford. And right now the Bears hang on the precipice. A loss to Stanford would mean Cal would have to upset Oregon or Oregon State to end the season to become bowl-eligible at the very least (and Utah in Salt Lake City and Washington at home won't be anything easy). That is a road that would seem to ensure that Cal football would end their decade with their most successful coach of the modern era.
The game kicks off at noon PT from Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. and will be broadcast on FOX.