Stanford freshman RB Austin Jones could break Cal fans’ hearts on Saturday

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By Ana Kieu

Stanford freshman running back Austin Jones attended Bishop O’Dowd High in Oakland and most of his friends are Cal fans. On Saturday, he will play in his first Big Game and try to help Stanford break their hearts.

“I moved here in seventh grade, so I got to go to a couple games,” said Jones, who moved around a lot growing up. “I didn’t really pull for anybody, but I know it’s a heated, long-term rivalry. I just picked up on the emotion that comes with the game.”

Jones’ phone has been blowing up all week.

“I have a lot of good friends on their team,” Jones said. “We’ve been jabbing at each other a little bit and chopping it up. We’re going to get after each other.”

Neither school has produced the season it envisioned. Both have been racked by injuries as Stanford enters with a 4-6, 3-5 Pac-12 record and Cal enters with a 5-5, 2-5 Pac-12 record. The Cardinal boasts a series-high nine-game winning streak, but season records in the 121-year rivalry, often prove meaningless.

“The records don’t matter,” said senior inside linebacker Curtis Robinson, who will play for the Axe for the fourth time. “We know that we’re going to get their best shot because it’s Big Game week. It’s always that way.”

Stanford junior quarterback Davis Mills grew up in Duluth, Ga. and will experience his first start in the rivalry. He quickly discovered the significance of the contest.

“I kind of felt it right when I stepped on campus,” Mills said. “The Big Game is always circled. It should be fun to finally play in the game and I know there is a bunch of tradition behind it and all the ceremonies.”

For the last nine years, no Cardinal senior has tasted defeat.

“It’s kind of crazy to hear our coaches talking about it’s for the seniors and sitting back thinking, ‘Oh, that’s me,”’ said Robinson. “It’s been crazy to win those games with the senior classes and I’m starting to feel the importance of what this game means.”

Robinson knows he’s playing for more than his teammates.

“It means more to us to win the Axe for the Stanford community as a whole,” Robinson said. “Obviously, it’s very important to our pride as a team. But we understand we’re playing for something bigger.”

In the Stanford football office, the Andrew Luck Auditorium includes a wall of photos of seniors who have won the Big Game.

“We talk about the streak,” said Jones. “We always talk about how we don’t want to let our seniors down and want them to put their pictures on the wall.”

David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football, starts off every Big Game week by reminding his team to keep emotions in check, especially the young players.

“This is a different game,” Shaw said. “We have to prepare as well as we can on the X’s and O’s side, but at the same time play with emotion and not let the emotion rule us. It will be a very hotly contested.”

Former Stanford standout Richard Sherman, now playing for the San Francisco 49ers, is pulling for his alma mater.

“The Axe belongs at Stanford,” Sherman said. “There is so much history and it’s such a great rivalry. I feel good about our chances to win it again.”

INJURY UPDATE
Senior quarterback K.J. Costello, senior free safety Malik Antoine, junior cornerback Paulson Adebo and junior tight end Tucker Fisk will not play Saturday. Senior cornerbacks Obi Eboh and Treyjohn Butler are questionable.

Freshman Ryan Sanborn handled kickoffs and field goal/extra points against Washington State but did not punt. He might be available to punt, but Shaw praised the efforts of sophomore Alex Gracey, who downed two of his three kicks inside the 5-yard line last week and could punt again.

“He did a great job,” Shaw said.

Stanford could start three true freshmen in its secondary.

“It’s all-hands on deck,” Shaw said.

MIGHTY MILLS
Mills broke a 21-year-old Stanford single-game passing record at Washington State by throwing for 504 yards.

“Davis had an exceptional game,” said Shaw. “He caught fire, got the protection and a bunch of guys made plays. He broke a record that has been around for a long time. That was a positive for the football team, but we have to do things like that and win.”

Mills made his college debut earlier this year at USC and missed some throws. Shaw said his coming out party was against Oregon State.

“He played a complete game and made some of those throws he missed against USC,” Shaw said. “He almost played better against Washington than he did this past weekend.”

The even-keeled Mills seldom shows much emotion on or off the field. Asked to assess last week’s performance, he said: “I thought overall, I played well. In the end, it would have been nice to get a win.”

Mills credited his line and receivers, and said their hard work was rewarded.

“It really showed what everybody can do,” Mills said. “We’re still chasing perfection.”

Despite all that, Shaw continues to remind himself that Mills only has four college starts.

“He’s still a growing, inexperienced quarterback with a lot of talent,” said Shaw. “He’s much, much closer to his potential, but there’s a lot more up there.”

FRIENDS FOREVER
Last week, Shaw received a text from Sherman with a photo of the two at a recent game between the 49ers and Carolina Panthers. Sherman reminded Shaw that football is only a game and Shaw shared the well-received message with his players after practice.

“It’s the truth,” said Sherman. “At the end of the day, you win some, you lose some and you fight as hard as you can. But once this game is done and the lights are off and the fans are gone, the people that are left are your friends. What’s left are the relationships that you have with the people that you went through the struggles with. Those memories and people are real, and they’ll last you a lifetime.

“At the end of the day, if you win a million championships or lose a million championships, it doesn’t change the relationships and friendship that you have. Those are special, regardless of the outcome of the games or the season.”

WONDERFUL WEAVER
Cal senior inside linebacker Evan Weaver leads the FBS with 151 tackles and averages 15.1 per game. He collected 22 stops against Utah.

Last year, Weaver made 159 tackles, second-most in school history.

“Somehow, Weaver has gotten bigger and faster,” Shaw said. “He’s the best linebacker we’ve seen all year. He just has to be accounted for and he’s hard to block.”

Asked how that can best be accomplished, Shaw said, “First of all, we hope Weaver misses the bus.”

THEME GAME
Every fan who enters Saturday’s game with a paid ticket will receive a long sleeve T-shirt courtesy of Stanford Medicine. Additionally, Stanford will honor local veterans, military, fire and police officers in conjunction with Veterans Day.

The annual Big Game Rally will be held Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium and is open to the public. The Gaieties, dating back to 1911, will be staged Wednesday through Friday at 8 pm.

NOTES
Shaw praised his team Wednesday night after a spirited practice. “I like where we are between the ears,” Shaw said … Stanford leads the overall series, 64-46-11 … Shaw is 8-0 against Cal … Former Cardinal standout safety John Lynch ’92 will be recognized as part of the 125-year celebration of Stanford football. He’s now general manager of the 49ers … Sophomore wide receiver Simi Fehoko has six touchdown catches in his last five games … The Cardinal has played 20 freshmen this season and 18 saw action last week … Saturday’s game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.

QUOTE
“You have to amp up your energy and your execution to play at your absolute best, but you also have to know where that line is. This is a respectful rivalry.” — David Shaw on playing Cal.

Stanford and Cal battle for the Axe on Saturday

Photo credit: californiagoldenblogs.com

By Ana Kieu

The Stanford Cardinal and Cal Golden Bears meet for the 122nd time on Saturday, with the Cardinal leading the all-time series 64-46-11. Stanford has won nine straight in the series, the longest winning streak in series history.

The Big Game is the sixth-most played college football rivalry game. Cal is Stanford’s most common opponent (next is USC with 99 all-time meetings). Stanford’s 64 victories over Cal are its most against any opponent.

Under head coach David Shaw, Stanford is 22-6 against Cal, UCLA and USC. In the six seasons before Shaw, the Cardinal was 7-11 against those three teams. Overall, Stanford is 28-7 against in-state opponents under Shaw.

A total of 20 true freshmen have made their first career appearances so far this season: Bradley Archer, Branson Bragg, Aeneas DiCosmo, Stephen Herron, Elijah Higgins, Jake Hornibrook, Austin Jones, Brock Jones, Spencer Jorgensen, Kyu Blu Kelly, Zahran Manley, Jonathan McGill, Barrett Miller, Drake Nugent, Joshua Pakola, Nathaniel Peat, Walter Rouse, Ryan Sanborn, Tristan Sinclair and Nicolas Toomer. Eighteen true freshmen played in Saturday’s game at Washington State.

A total of 17 Cardinal have made their first career starts so far: Ryan Beecher, Branson Bragg, Henry Hattis, Stuart Head, Houston Heimuli, Jake Hornibrook, Kyu Blu Kelly, Jonathan McGill, Barrett Miller, Davis Mills, J.J. Parson, Andrew Pryts, Curtis Robinson, Walter Rouse, Foster Sarell, Osiris St. Brown and Jack West. Thirty-seven different Cardinal have started at least one game for Stanford this season.

Junior quarterback Davis Mills set the school record for passing on Saturday with 504 yards. He was 33-of-50, both career highs, while his three touchdowns tied a career high. He became the first Cardinal QB since Andrew Luck in 2009 to have a 400-yard passing game, breaking Todd Husak’s 21-year record in the process (450 vs. Oregon State on Oct. 10, 1998).

Junior tight end Colby Parkinson was named a John Mackey Award semifinalist on Monday, one of eight up for the nation’s top tight end award. Parkinson has 41 catches for 392 yards and a touchdown on the season, while also throwing for a touchdown against Oregon State.

Both Connor Wedington and Michael Wilson went over 100 yards receiving in Saturday’s game at Washington State. It marked the first time in each of their careers they had surpassed the century mark. Wedington led the team with eight catches for 119 yards and now has a catch in all 27 career games. Wilson had five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Cal fends off Stanford 64-59 in final game of regular season

Photo credit: @CalMBBall

By: Eric Epstein

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The University of California Golden Bears bested the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavillion Thursday night with a score of 64-59, spoiling Stanford’s Senior Night and last game of the regular season. With their loss, Stanford moved to 8-10 in Pac-12 play, leaving them in 10th place in the conference. Cal improves their Pac-12 record to 3-15, however, they still sit at the bottom of the conference standings.

The Bears dominated the first half, outscoring the Cardinal 37-24. Only a couple minutes into the game, Cal rattled off a 17-0 run over five minutes, extending their lead to 19 points only 10 minutes into the game. Stanford was able to slowly narrow their deficit to 10 points before Cal freshman guard Matt Bradley banked home a long 3-point basket at the half to give the Bears a 13-point lead going into the locker room.

In the first period, Cal shot with much higher efficiency from Stanford everywhere except for the foul line. The Bears made 6 out of their 10 3-point attempts, whereas the Cardinal were not able to connect on any of their 12 tries.

7-foot-3 freshman Connor Vanover provided the Cal offense with a red-hot shooting spree, scoring his 18 first-half points on 7-8 shooting, including connecting on all 4 of his three-point attempts.

The first half Stanford offense ran through sophomore forward KZ Okpala, who scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting. Stanford struggled mightily with ball security and playmaking, as they turned the ball over 8 times and only totaled 3 assists. With usual starting point guard Daejon Davis still sidelined with a foot injury, the bulk of the ballhandling was done by freshman guards Bryce Wills and Cormac Ryan.

Cal scored three straight buckets to open the second half, increasing their lead to a game-high 21 points. The two squads traded off bursts of scoring until Stanford was able to string together some quick baskets and defensive stops to decrease the lead to single digits with 4 minutes left in the game. After missing their first 21 3-point attempts, Stanford hit 3 straight 3-pointers down the stretch to work the Cal lead down to a measly 3 points. However, Vanover responded on the other end, drawing an and-one foul on a shot under the basket. After that, the Cardinal were forced to play the foul game and could not make up the 6 point deficit incurred in the final minute.

Vanover led the game in scoring with 24 points on 9-12 shooting and 5-6 from three. Bradley and junior guard Paris Austin also lit up the scoreboard with 14 and 15 points, respectively. Sophomore forward Justice Sueing also pitched in a notable effort of his own, scoring 9 points and 10 rebounds en route to a near double-double. Only 5 Cal players got on the scoreboard Thursday evening, and the Bears bench was only able to scrape 2 points together over the course of the whole game.

Okpala led the Cardinal in scoring yet again with 21 points on 9-14 shooting. Senior center Josh Sharma put on a good show for Senior Night with 11 points and 13 rebounds, however, his game was cut a couple of minutes short due to his fifth personal foul. Ryan, who missed his first 7 shots, caught on fire down the stretch for 8 points on 3 shots. He also recorded a very impressive no-look overhead pass from his back to a streaking Marcus Sheffield for a transition bucket late in the second half.

This marks the last game for the Cardinal before the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas next week. This game likely marks the last home game for graduating senior Josh Sharma as well as sophomore KZ Okpala, who is expected to enter the NBA Draft this summer.

Three takeaways from Stanford’s 23-13 win over Cal in the 121st Big Game

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By: Ana Kieu

The Stanford Cardinal won their ninth straight Big Game at Memorial Stadium against the California Golden Bears on Saturday. With the win, Stanford (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12) not only preserved bragging rights, but also kept the Axe away from Cal (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12). Congratulations to the 2018 Cardinal squad!

Now, let’s take a look at three takeaways from Stanford’s 23-13 win over Cal in the 121st Big Game.

Early bird gets the worm
Okay, the game wasn’t scheduled at 10:00 am or earlier than that, but its kickoff was set for noon, which was close enough.

Anyhow, Stanford jumped out to an early lead on their first two drives of the game to grab a 10-0 lead on running back Cameron Scarlett’s first score and held on against Cal to extend the longest winning streak in the Big Game, which was established in 1892.

The Cardinal took an early lead and never looked back. That’s the way the game should be played, especially against a rival or archrival.

The other PA 
No, we’re referring to the initials of Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo, who’s a redshirt freshman.

Adebo may not be a household name in the Cardinal’s world. Well, at least not yet. But please keep in mind that Adebo tied the school record with 22 passes defended on the season–in both pass break ups and interceptions.

Vaughn Bryant also held that record with 22 passes defended with 18 pass break ups and four interceptions.

Almost perfect
Stanford kicker and punter Jet Toner has made 14-of-15 field goals this season. Toner currently owns the highest field goal percentage in school history in a single season with .929 and in a career with 34-of-40 and .850.

Toner ain’t perfect, but he’s almost perfect and that’s nearly the same thing, right? When there’s a healthy Toner, there’s likely going to be a higher chance of a Cardinal win in the end.

Stanford heads to Cal for rescheduled Big Game on Saturday

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By: Ana Kieu

The Bay Area air quality levels had improved, so the smoke and haze shouldn’t be issues in rescheduled 121st Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Here’s what you need to know about the Big Game.

By the Numbers
Stanford Cardinal (7-4, 5-3)
Cal Bears (7-4, 4-4)
Dec. 1, 2018 at Noon PT
Memorial Stadium (63,000) in Berkeley, Calif.

Television
Live national broadcast on Pac-12 Network with Roxy Bernstein (play-by-play), Yogi Roth (analyst) and Jill Savage (sideline).

Radio
Live coverage on Stanford’s flagship station–KNBR 1050 AM–with Scott Reiss ’93 (play-by-play), Todd Husak ’00 (analyst) and Troy Clardy ’97 (sideline). The broadcast begins one hour before kickoff with the Cardinal Tailgate Show and concludes with the postgame Cardinal Locker Room Report.

The game can be heard on Stanford student radio–KZSU 90.1 FM–and online at kzsulive.stanford.edu.

On the Web
GoStanford.comCalBears.com • #GoStanford

Other Stats to Keep in Mind
1 • Stanford is 7-0 this season when forcing at least one turnover, and 0-4 when not forcing a turnover.

2 • Sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson is second in the nation among tight ends with seven touchdown receptions.

3 • Stanford football players have conducted interviews in three foreign languages this season–JJ Arcega-Whiteside (Spanish), Jesse Burkett (Japanese) and Osiris St. Brown (German). All other Stanford football interviews this year have been done in English.

3 • Junior Kaden Smith is one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, joining T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri). The winner will be announced on Dec. 5.

3 • The Cardinal vie for a sweep of its in-state rivals UCLA, USC and Cal for the third time in four years. The Cardinal most recently swept all three in 2015 and 2016. Under Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football David Shaw (2011-current), Stanford is 28-5 vs. in-state opponents, including 22-4 against USC, UCLA and Cal. This season, Stanford is 4-0 against Californian opposition.

4 • Stanford’s four losses this season have come against the AP’s curent No. 3, No. 10, No. 12 and No. 17th-ranked teams in the nation (Notre Dame, Washington, Washington State, Utah). Those four teams have a combined record of 40-8 (.833) this season.

5 • Costello’s five touchdown passes at UCLA on Nov. 24 were second-most in school history (Elway, 6 vs. OSU in 1980) and the most since Kevin Hogan had five in the 2013 Big Game.

8 • Stanford has won a series-record eight consecutive Big Games.

10 • Stanford has clinched its 10th straight bowl game appearance, extending the program record. The previous best streak was three–when the Cardinal went to three straight Rose Bowls from 1933-35. The 10 straight winning seasons is the longest streak since an 11-year run from 1968-78.

10 • Stanford clinched its 10th straight winning season in conference play, extending the school record. The previous best streak was seven straight years under Pop Warner in the Pacific Coast Conference from 1924-1930.

11 • Stanford has won a series-record 11 consecutive games over the Bruins, dating back to 2009 and including the 2012 Pac-12 Championship Game. It is the all-time longest winning streak by any opponent against the Bruins.

14 • Senior wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside tied a school record and ranks third nationally (first among Pac-12 players) — with 14 receiving touchdowns. That ties Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton’s school record set in 1977. He is four away from matching Mario Bailey’s Pac-12 record set in 1991.

16 • In addition to his 55 receptions and 860 receiving yards this season, Arcega-Whiteside has drawn 16 penalties this year—13 pass interference and three holding calls for 210 penalty yards (1.6 penalties/game and 21.0 penalty yards/game).

17 • Sophomore cornerback Paulson Adebo ranks second nationally with 17 pass breakups and fifth in the NCAA with 19 passes defended.

20 • Junior quarterback K.J. Costello ranks among the Top 20 nationally in completion percentage (16th), completions per game (14th), passing efficiency (13th), passing touchdowns (9th), passing yards (14th), passing yards per game (12th) and yards per attempt (14th). He leads the Pac-12 in efficiency (159.1) and is second in the conference in yards (3,198), touchdowns (28) and yards per attempt (8.71).

21 • Stanford’s seniors finished their careers 20-5 (.800) at Stanford Stadium. In the last four years, the Cardinal has won 37 games, three Big Games, two Pac-12 North titles, a conference championship, and has played in the Rose Bowl, Sun Bowl and Alamo Bowl.

28 • Only Andrew Luck has thrown more TD passes in a season at Stanford than Costello’s 28 in 2018. Luck set the record with 37 in 2011 and had 32 in 2010.

100 • Arcega-Whiteside is the first Stanford player with four 100-yard receiving games in a season since Luke Powell in 2001. His eight career 100-yard receiving games ranks third in school history.

121 • The 121st Big Game was rescheduled due to poor air quality caused by the devastating wildfires in Butte County (Dec. 1 is Stanford’s latest calendar kickoff for a regular season game since the 2007 Big Game was played on the same date). Cal is Stanford’s most common opponent (next is USC with 98 all-time meetings), while Stanford’s 63 wins over the Bears are also its most against any opponent.

300 • Costello is the third Cardinal with seven 300-yard passing games in a season, joining John Elway (1982) and Steve Stenstrom, who set the school record with nine in 1993. He is the first Cardinal with four consecutive 100-yard passing performances since Steve Stenstrom had five in a row in 1994.

1,000 • The last Cardinal to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season was Troy Walters in 1999. Arcega-Whiteside is just 140 yards away from that milestone.

3,201 • K.J. Costello’s 3,201 yards of total offense ranks fifth in school history. He needs 198 yards to move into third which would place him behind only Andrew Luck, who set the school record with 3,791 in 2010 and had 3,667 in 2011. In addition, Costello’s 3,198 passing yards this season are fifth-most in school history and is just 429 yards away from the school record set by Steve Stenstrom in 1993.

2018 Big Game between Stanford and Cal rescheduled for Dec. 1

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By: Ana Kieu

PALO ALTO–I know a lot of college football fans in the Bay Area were looking forward to the 2018 Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium this Saturday, but that fun-filled day will have to wait as the heavy smoke from the devastating wildfires in Butte County has significantly worsened the air quality throughout Northern California. The game has been rescheduled for Dec. 1 at noon PT on the Pac-12 Network.

Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics, Bernard Muir, said in a statement: “The entire Stanford Athletics community recognizes this has been an extremely challenging time for so many people who have been affected by the wildfires, both in the Bay Area and throughout the state. Our thoughts are with them, first and foremost. We are thankful to the University of California for collaborating with us on the logistical challenges of rescheduling the Big Game, and are looking forward to playing the game on Dec. 1.”

The Big Game was originally scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 pm PT in Berkeley, Calif. However, after further consultation with campus medical and environmental experts, the Pac-12 Conference and Stanford, UC Berkeley’s Chancellor, Carol Christ, and Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton concluded that the game should be postponed due to concerns for the health and well-being of student-athletes, staff, the band, student groups, and fans.

While the initial intention was to wait until Saturday to make a final decision, current air quality conditions provided by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and forecasts for the weekend are indicating that AQI (Air Quality Index) levels are unlikely to improve by Saturday afternoon. The decision was consistent with guidelines established by the NCAA Sports Science Institute and the Pac-12’s Health and Well-Being Board.

All tickets to the Nov. 17 game will be honored on Dec. 1, and fans should bring the tickets they currently have to gain entrance on the rescheduled date. Fans with questions should call (800) STANFORD and press option 4.

Since 1892, Stanford and Cal have met 120 times, including each of the last 71 years dating back to a three-year gap during World War II (1943-45). The Cardinal holds the all-time series lead 63-46-11 in the Big Game, and has won a series-record eight in a row over the Bears.

Stanford brings a series-best eight-game winning streak to Cal for the Big Game on Saturday

Photo credit: gostanford.com

By: Ana Kieu

The Stanford Cardinal brings a series-best eight-game winning streak to Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on Saturday against the Cal Golden Bears in the 121st Big Game, but players know it’s going to be a fresh slate.

“It’s one of the more competitive games we play all season,” said Bobby Okereke. “They’re scrappy guys and have a good offense. Their running back (Patrick Laird) is really good, so we’re expecting a dogfight.”

Okereke and upperclassmen will explain the significance of Stanford’s oldest rivalry to young players, especially out-of-staters. But there is only one way to understand and appreciate the atmosphere, emotion and tradition that rewards the winner with year-long bragging rights and The Axe.

“You just have to experience it,” Okereke said.

Bryce Love has faced Cal three times and rushed for a combined 200 yards and two scores, including a 48-yard dash his freshman year. He ran for 101 yards and contributed a key 57-yard scoring run in last year’s 17-14 win.

Love knows the Bears will be wired Saturday as they’re tired of losing. They boast a stout defense, but he welcomes the challenge on the other side of the Bay Area.

“In my mind, playing in hostile environments…that’s fun,” Love said.

Love’s advice to teammates is simple.

“Just every away game, concentrate on what you can control,” said Love. “You know it’s going to be loud. Focus on the little things, like the offensive line calls and your reads. The rest will take care of itself.”

The Stakes
Stanford (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) and Cal (6-4, 3-4) became bowl eligible with wins last Saturday, the Cardinal downing Oregon State (48-17) and the Bears surprising USC (15-14).

David Shaw competed against Cal as a player and is 7-0 as a head coach. Asked if winning the Big Game has more meaning than upsetting a No. 1-ranked team, he didn’t hesitate.

“This game for me is in a different category,” said Shaw. “There’s something about holding that Axe after the game.”

In a series that began in 1892, Stanford leads 63-46-11. The Cardinal scored 2,097 points while the Bears have tallied 1,926.

Quick Turnaround
Shaw isn’t surprised how quickly Cal head coach Justin Wilcox has improved the program. The Bears play with passion and for each other.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence,” Shaw said. “They’re playing fast and physical and are on the attack all the time. We’ve got to start fast because I know they will.”

Back on the Field
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside returned to practice after missing the OSU game with an injury and could play. He leads the team in receiving and ranks fourth nationally in touchdown catches with 11.

“He’s got a chance if he makes it through the week,” Shaw said.

Trevor Speights is also back and should play, while junior offensive lineman Devery Hamilton is questionable.

Jet Toner and Joey Alfieri are expected to resume practicing but the latter will not play Saturday. Also sidelined are Casey Toohill, Nate Herbig and Drew Dalman.

Only Time Will Tell
Connor Wedington could see action depending on the progress of Arcega-Whiteside. Wedington has appeared in only three contests this season due to injury and will likely redshirt.

“He’s geared on getting that,” said Shaw. “We’ll use him wisely.”

Under the new NCAA rules, a player can compete in four games during the season without sacrificing a year of eligibility.

“That’s what I love about this new rule,” said Shaw. “It gives him flexibility.”

Different Combinations
The Cardinal has used six different offensive line combinations to start the game this season due to injuries. Only Walker Little has started all 10.

“It’s been different, but a lot of guys have responded,” Shaw said.

Last week, Nick Wilson, Dylan Powell and Henry Hattis stepped up.

“We’ll probably see some combination of those guys,” said Shaw.

Numbers
According to Pro Football Focus, KJ Costello achieved the highest passer rating of Power-5 quarterbacks when kept clean last week (155.7). Arcega-Whiteside has the highest targeted passer rating when targeted of any Pac-12 wide receiver (140.6).

“K.J. is an awesome leader,” said Colby Parkinson, who caught four touchdown passes from him against Oregon State to match the school record. “It’s great to see him grow into that role.”

Last week, Costello became just the third Stanford quarterback to collect six 300-yard passing games in a season. John Elway did it six times in 1982 and Steve Stenstrom accomplished it eight times in 1993.

Tough Losses
Stanford’s four losses this season have come against No. 3 Notre Dame (10-0), No. 8 Washington State (9-1), No. 17 Washington (7-3) and No. 21 Utah (7-3). They are a combined 33-7.

Scouting Report
The Cal defense ranks No. 15 nationally and first in the Pac-12, allowing 4.7 yards per play. The Bears also rank No. 16 in the country in total defense (318.6) and No. 27 in points allowed per game (21.1).

The unit is led by Evan Weaver and Jordan Kunaszyk, who have combined for 222 tackles. Additionally, the secondary has pilfered 14 passes, returning three for touchdowns.

Offensively, Laird is the heart and soul. He has rushed for 771 yards, caught 43 passes for 269 yards, and has found the end zone eight times.

“He breaks tackles, he’s quick and explosive,” said Shaw. “A lot in this game comes down to willpower. This guy runs like his life is on the line every play and I appreciate it.”

In addition to beating to USC, Cal upset No. 10 Washington (12-10), and had No. 10 Washington State on the ropes in Pullman before the Cougars escaped with a 19-13 victory in the final 32 seconds, their lowest point total of the season.

Fun Fact
Stanford football players have conducted interviews in three foreign languages this season: Arcega-Whiteside (Spanish), Jesse Burkett (Japanese) and Osiris St. Brown (German).

Local Boy
Jack Richardson grew up in Salinas and both parents were standout student-athletes on The Farm. His mother, Teresa, was a two-time All-American in volleyball and is a member of the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame. His father, Kevin, was a standout linebacker and recorded a team-high 113 tackles in 1987.

Kevin proposed to Teresa by hiring a plane to fly over Stanford Stadium during the 1991 Big Game.

Notes
The contest will be televised on Pac-12 Network … Stanford has permitted one touchdown in the third quarter and no more than seven points to any opponent … Parkinson’s 166 receiving yards against OSu were the most by a Cardinal tight end since Coby Fleener (173) in the 2011 Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech … Parkinson averages 17.8 yards per catch … Costello ranks in the top-20 nationally in seven statistical categories. He leads the conference in passing efficiency (156.9) and yards per attempt (8.65) and is second in passing yards (2,854) … Arcega-Whiteside’s 11 receiving touchdowns are tied with Ken Margerum for No. 2 in Stanford history, three behind all-time leader James Lofton … Shaw said sophomore quarterback Davis Mills could be available to play in a bowl game.

Quote
“He’s a mismatch everywhere.”
— Shaw on Parkinson

Big Game aftermath: Cal, Dykes have a lot of work to do

By Morris Phillips

The 116th Big Game needed to be Cal’s last stand, their final opportunity—win or lose–to show that their football program was headed in the right direction with major improvement coming in 2014.

Instead, the Bears suffered the worst loss in Big Game history, allowing a Stanford-record 42 points in the first half alone.  Combined with Oregon’s loss to Arizona, Cal found itself trapped in the Cardinal’s big moment with nowhere to go until the final horn sounded.

Talk about a violent manner in which to swing an Axe.  According to Coach Sonny Dykes, his program is currently under reconstruction, in large part due to what transpired on Saturday at Stanford Stadium.

“Actually, we’re going to learn how to pick up our locker room.  We’re… going to learn how to go class. We’re going to fix our graduation rates, graduate.  We are going to appreciate being a Cal student, be supportive of other Cal students.  We’re going to get faster, stronger in the weight room.  We’re going to get bigger and improve our diet.  We’re going to be more committed to getting sleep, rest, recovery.  We’re going to learn how to play on offense and defense,” Dykes said.

Less than a year after accepting the job at Berkeley, Dykes admitted that he’s starting over.  And typically, that means there’s nowhere to go but up.  But when you hit rock bottom this hard, typical doesn’t apply.  When asked who among his staff would return next season, Dykes was brutally honest.

“I’ll take a look at it all,” Dykes said.  “I can’t guarantee I’ll be back next season.”

Given the millions of dollars invested in Dykes, former coach Jeff Tedford and the rebuilt Memorial Stadium, don’t expect Dykes to go anywhere but back to work.  Cal can’t afford to start over like they did in 2001 when Tom Holmoe was shown the door after a one-win season. In fact, Dykes said that process would begin soon after the bus ride back to Berkeley, saying that it couldn’t wait until Sunday afternoon or Monday to commence.

The Bears came into Saturday’s game knowing that Stanford’s physical attack could embarrass them as it had other opponents.  So Dykes and the Cal defense loaded up to stop to run only to see Stanford take to the air and take advantage of the Bears’ young secondary.  The transition for the Cardinal was seamless as star receiver Ty Montgomery racked up five touchdowns and the Stanford offense over 600 yards.

The highlights—seen by far more than the 50,000 in the stadium and those that sat through the broadcast buried deep in the recesses of expanded cable—were noticeable for the lengthy plays produced by Stanford with Cal players trailing in their wake.  Not only has Cal sunk this low, but at the same time, hated rival Stanford has reached its zenith, possibly on its way to back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances, and all of that was neatly summed up in a brief video package of Cal quarterback Jared Goff taking hits and Montgomery running into the end zone.

When you take into account that 17 and 18-year olds have short attention spans, watch television and are impressionable, you start to get a sense of what a win-win the whole afternoon was for Stanford, and just the opposite for Cal.

First, Dykes and the Bears have to learn from their mistakes and improve.  The Cal depth chart this season was littered with inexperienced first-and-second year players even before numerous injuries robbed the team of its veteran players.  In a Pac-12 conference that’s bigger than it’s ever been and likely more talent-heavy than it’s ever been, the combination proved to be pure disaster for Cal.

In addition, Dykes’ Bear Raid system is a high-risk operation with its spread sets and frequent passing. But it’s not anything new to opposing coaches and defenses.  Repeatedly, those defenses bent but didn’t break against Cal, by dialing up pressure that Cal’s offensive line, labeled as lacking physicality by even its’ own coaches, couldn’t withstand.  On Saturday, the Bears were awful on third-down, failing to convert on 11 of 13 opportunities.  If the Bear Raid can’t gain rhythm, can’t stay on the field and wear on opposing defenses, little if anything is realized.

In summary, Cal’s got a long way to go.  Dykes appears forthright and committed, but he needs help from his players and coaching staff.  Even with all the pluses afforded Cal through the university and athletic department, it won’t be easy, and it won’t be any less lengthy a process given that the competition in the Pac-12 is as steep as it’s ever been.

Michael Duca on Cal football and basketball

by Michael Duca

BERKELEY–Anytime you have a chance to make history and this year the Cal football Bears have made history, they are among the worst team among the FDS in every category and therefore in the long and storied history of the Big Game which is coming up this Saturday at Stanford they are the biggest underdogs ever. Do you want to know what their in store for?

This will shock you but I would tell you to take Cal and points in this game on Saturday and the only way that Cal could be able to beat the spread with their 32 points and their never going beat the spread and hold the score down and the only way your going to hold the score down is to run the football. Their going to actually concentrate on running the football and Stanford is going to expect them not to run the football.

Their going to concentrate on trying to control the ball on the ground and Cal can’t do that they only have two Pac 12 quality lineman and that’s the problem. These games, these rivalry games can throw everything out the window and they don’t even bother printing these in the racing forms because there is no forms to these games. Remember Joe Kapp’s last game was an 17-11 victory over a Stanford team that was a four touchdown favorite.

Is there any chance for Cal to pull out a miracle and shock the crowd at Stanford with a win answer: I don’t think the band will be on the field.

Cal hoops: Playtime is over the real games start next week in Maui for the Maui Invitational to face some really good teams, the Maui tournament will see Arkansas, Baylor, Cal, Chaminade, Dayton, Gonzaga, Minnesota, and Syracuse, and Cal will find out what a good team really is. This team is doing well going into the tournament they are 4-0 the last time Cal was 4-0 going into a tournament they were riding high and they were fat, dumb, and happy and they went back to Wisconsin and played a Big Ten that just physically manhandled them.

From the time they tried to leave the locker room and until the time they got on the bus to go back home they have not forgotten that and they have brought that and a little bit more focus in the Pac 12. They realize they have a chance to be a really decent team this year. They may not be at the very top pius echelon of the Pac 12 this year looks like Arizona and UCLA are those big teams but Cal is right behind them which means all they need one or two players or wins in winning the league and that’s always been their goal.

Guard Justin Cobbs he was fine the other night after recovering from an injury. The first question we asked Cal head coach Mike Montgomery last Monday night after beating Southern Utah was what did he learn about his team after a game like that? Montgomery was honest he said, “not very much.” Southern Utah was overmatched physically and talent wise from about the time they got off the airplane.

However their coached by a former player at Stanford Nick Robinson suddenly it gave Robinson an opportunity to play a in bigger arena in front of 4,000 to 5,000 people which is more than who their going to play in front of in Utah.

Michael Duca does commentary on Cal football and basketball each week for Sportstalk Radio

Cal hopes for redemption at Colorado

By George Devine, Sr.

After a 62-28 loss to USC in this year’s last game at Berkeley, the Bears hope for their first Division I win of the season at Colorado, kicking off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 16.

The Buffaloes lost their 14th straight Pac-12 game and are 0-6 in conference this year (3-6 overall), bringing up the rear in the South division as Cal (0-7, 1-9) is in the North division cellar.

The Colorado loss was to Washington, 59=70. Huskies are now 6-3/3-3 and bowl eligible. Leading the charge for the Buffs against Cal will be WR Paul Richardson and running backs Tony Jones and Christian Powell. On defense, ILB Addison Gillam will give the “Bear Raid” offense trouble, despite the chemistry achieved this year between Cal QB Jared Goff and wideout Kenny Lawler, a fellow freshman.

Following the game at Colorado, the Bears will go to Stanford for the annual Big Game, this year on Saturday, November 13 at a time TBD.