Stanford-Cal: Can the Cardinal Avoid a Huge Hangover in the Big Game?

Jason Figueiredo@sportschatterCorrespondent INovember 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal greets his offense after a touchdown during the game with the USC Trojans on November 14, 2009 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  Stanford won 55-21.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Everyone has experienced a hangover once or twice before.  But those who really like to party know that the effects of a multi-day binge can be much more gut-wrenching and so much harder to recover from.

In this weekend’s Big Game against Cal, Stanford hopes to keep the drinks flowing and continue on the vast amount of success they have experienced over the past two weekends.

The unexpected beginning to Stanford’s ferocious final four games has many believing that if they can do what they did to those two Top-Ten teams, it's much more likely that they will be able to do the same to a beat-up Cal and a beleaguered Norte Dame. 

While Cal experienced a flurry of wins in the Big Game the past decade (winning seven of the past ten games), this isn’t your father’s Stanford team marching out onto the field this Saturday. 

Stanford played the David role to at T against Oregon’s and USC’s Goliath, but on the Farm this weekend they are a touchdown favorite over the Golden Bears.  Will Stanford be able to play with the head of steam that possessed as they did as underdogs?

They better hope so.

Jim Harbaugh is undefeated against Cal in Palo Alto after a surprising victory in his first Big Game two years ago.  But after a convincing loss to the Bears last year in Berkeley, it is hard to say which coach really has the edge in the 112th matchup of this heated cross-bay rivalry.   

Stanford holds a slight edge in this series (43-39-6), which started back in 1918.  They also possess a winning record when the Big Game is played on the Farm (24-18-1). 

But when these two teams face off, all historical games can usually be thrown out the window.

Have no doubt that Stanford is looking at this game as their chance at the Pac-10 title. A loss this weekend all but negates their chances at the coveted crown. 

But how will Jim Harbaugh and the Cardinal respond after the huge win last weekend?

In 2007, after Harbaugh’s Cardinal went into Los Angeles Coliseum and slayed the Pete Carroll dragon, things didn’t go too well the next week on the Farm. A ranked TCU came into Palo Alto and sucked the air right out of Stanford’s balloon. 

But once again, this isn’t the Stanford Cardinal that teams have longed to kick around. 

This team put up 50-plus points on both USC and Oregon.  Teams that Cal failed to put up more than a field goal against. 

This team has a bulldozer for a running back who sneezes and gains five yards.

This team has a gun-slinger for a quarterback that is quite possibly the best passer this college has seen since the legendary John Elway walked these campus lawns.

If Oregon and USC can put up exorbitant amounts of points on this Golden Bear defense, there is no doubt in my mind that the Cardinal will be able to do the same. 

So, before you grab for that aspirin in anticipation for any type of hangover, it might be time to head to the liquor store, because the party isn’t quite over just yet.