The Stanford Cardinal (4-2) will travel up the road to Berkeley this weekend to reignite the Big Game rivalry with the California Golden Bears (3-4).
No. 20 Stanford is coming off a bitter overtime loss at Notre Dame in Week 7, while the Golden Bears have won two in a row after starting the season 1-4. The Cardinal have won the last two matchups between the West Coast rivals, but Cal has won seven of the last 10 meetings overall.
Here we get you set with everything you need to know for Saturday afternoon's Big Game in Berkeley.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, CA
When: Saturday, October 20 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Listen: KNBR 1050 AM (Stanford), KGO 810 AM (San Francisco)
Live Streaming: Pac-12.com
Betting Line: California (2.5), according to Covers.com.
This year's matchup marks the 30th anniversary of "The Play" in 1982. Cal would lateral the ball countless times and eventually score a touchdown on the final play to win 25-20 over Stanford in Berkeley.
Fast-forward three decades. On Saturday, Stanford will attempt to make it three wins in a row over rival Cal. The Cardinals survived by three points at home in 2011, but trounced the Golden Bears in Berkeley two years ago. Prior to 2010, Cal had won seven of eight in the rivalry.
Who May Not Play for Stanford
*According to USA Today
WR Ty Montgomery (Knee), questionable for Saturday
FB Geoff Meinken (Knee), out until mid October
T Cole Underwood (Knee), out for season
Who May Not Play for California
*According to USA Today
TE Spencer Hagan (Knee), questionable for Saturday
LB Jason Gibson (Foot), out until mid-November
OL Mark Brazinski (Knee), out indefinitely
OL Dominic Galas (Pectoral), out indefinitely
DB Stefan McClure (Knee), out indefinitely
LB David Wilkerson (Ankle), out for season
LB Cecil Whiteside (Academics), out for season
LB Khairi Fortt (Knee), out for season
Stanford is No. 20 in the season's first BCS standings. The Cardinal is the highest ranked two-loss team in Week 8 thanks to its big win over USC on September 15. If Stanford can beat Cal it will play two more winnable games against Washington State and Colorado over the next two weeks, which could have the Cardinal 7-2 and in the thick of things heading into the final quarter of the season.
On the other hand, Cal is a long way away from climbing into the BCS mix. But a win on Saturday would bring the Golden Bears to 4-4 and put them two wins away from bowl contention.
What They're Saying
Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes has struggled to put together a decent road performance this season, and The Stanford Daily's Josephe Beyda was quick to point that out after the Cardinal's loss at Notre Dame last weekend:
[Nunes] Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week performance against the Wildcats was electric, but it was sandwiched between consecutive losses in which he completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Another one of those at Berkeley for Big Game next Saturday would be upsetting to say the least.
Nunes is a combined 30-for-62 with 295 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions on the road this season. He also has five rushes for minus-2 yards on the road.
Cal head coach Jeff Tedford expressed his disapproval with the date of the Big Game this year to The Oakland Tribune's Jon Wilner:
It's just not natural when you've been doing it for so long at a certain time. This is getting a little bit out of hand, traditions are not even thought of anymore.
Cal and Stanford usually meet in late November but will meet just halfway through the season this year, which no doubt takes some of the tradition and meaning away from the matchup.
Stanford Player to Watch
Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor has been a reliable workhorse out of the Cardinal's backfield all season long. The senior has rushed for 657 yards and five touchdowns through six games in 2012, and has run for more than 100 yards in four of Stanford's six games this fall.
The Texas native is averaging 4.5 yards per carry coming into this weekend and is sure to have his number called plenty against a suspect California defense that is allowing more than 26 points per game this season.
California Player to Watch
College football fans would be wise to keep an eye on Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen on Saturday afternoon. The junior playmaker has 52 receptions in seven games for 633 yards and five scores. Allen's half-brother Zach Maynard is also Cal's starting quarterback which explains their explosive connection.
Allen is a huge part of the Golden Bears' offensive attack. He has 34 more catches and 400 more yards than any other Cal receiver this season.
The most important battle happening down on the field Saturday will be that between Stanford's offense and Cal's defense. It's a simple matchup but one that will surely determine which side walks away with bragging rights this weekend.
Cal's defense has held its last two opponents to just 17 points each, while the Cardinal is averaging 28.5 points per game coming into Saturday. The Golden Bears will need to keep Stanford around the 20-point mark this weekend if they hope to win. If the Cardinal can come close to its season average against Cal, then it will be on its way to a third straight win in the series.
On the Hot Seat
Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes is struggling to follow in the footsteps of Cardinal legend Andrew Luck. The junior has thrown for 1,270 yards and eight touchdowns this season, but has been terrible on the road.
Nunes is completing just 48 percent of his passes away from Palo Alto and has zero touchdowns to three interceptions. He's coming off his worst game of the season at Notre Dame last weekend and will be on the hot seat Saturday in Berkeley.
Stanford has to get its first road win of the season at some point, doesn't it? Sure, Cal has looked like a much improved team over the last two weeks, but they have yet to play a team as complete on both sides of the ball as the Cardinal. I like David Shaw's squad to earn a hard-fought road win this weekend to run its streak to three straight over the Golden Bears.
Stanford 27, California 21
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