2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 12, California at Stanford
Pac-12 Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 19 at Stanford 31 … California 28
CFN Analysis: Andrew Luck is doing wonders with a mediocre receiving corps. The Cardinal targets aren’t getting much separation in a plodding passing attack. … It was a sloppy game weather-wise, and the seven penalties and a big pick made the Cardinal work to put the rival away. It wasn’t the game needed to make anyone want to see them play for the national title, but in a weekend of major upsets, simply winning and moving on is enough. … The defensive front got into the backfield, but even with three sacks, Cal QB Zach Maynard didn’t seem bothers. Against Notre Dame, the pass rush has to dominate and force errors.
The Bears made it a fight by holding up well under the pressure of getting beaten on by the Stanford offensive line. The run defense did a nice job keeping Stepfan Taylor to 45 yards on 17 carries, while closing down the Cardinal receiving corps – as much as possible with Andrew Luck throwing the ball. It was a strong performance in the loss. … Mychal Kendricks was terrific with 13 tackles and a sack with 2.5 tackles for loss, while Sean Cattouse made 13 stops. The two were all over the field. … Zach Maynard continues to make nice strides, completing 20-of-30 passes for 280 yards and two scores. He wasn’t able to take off and run too often, though. … The Bears are going bowling, but first they can play a huge role in the Pac-12 race by beating Arizona State and putting UCLA into the title game.
(AP) STANFORD, Calif. -- Andrew Luck slogged through a soggy field, all smiles, hands raised, taking a little extra time watching his Stanford teammates sprint to lift The Axe in triumph.
One last Big Game moment to savor.
Luck threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns and No. 8 Stanford survived a shaky start to beat rival California 31-28 on Saturday night in rain-soaked Big Game with a rare late start under the lights.
"It means a lot," said Luck, who has insisted this year will be his last in a Cardinal uniform. "It will mean more once the season is over, I'm sure, you get to reminisce. I feel very grateful and blessed winning two games in a row against them and retaining The Axe another year."
The pelting rain did little to slow Luck down.
Luck revived his Heisman Trophy campaign by tossing scores to Levine Toilolo and Ryan Hewitt, keeping the Cardinal's slim chances of a Pac-12 title and national championship alive. He overcame an early interception and rallied Stanford (10-1, 8-1) from six points down to keep The Axe on The Farm for the second straight season.
"It's special," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "It didn't really hit me until today. You look in the seniors' eyes, they wanted it so bad. As a coach, you can't help but pull for your guys and want them to be successful."
Cal's quarterback might have been the better of the two for long stretches.
Zach Maynard finished with 280 yards passing with two touchdowns for the Golden Bears (6-5, 3-5) in the 114th edition of the Bay Area rivalry. Cal's offense struggled in the second half before a late comeback came up short.
Stanford had its 17-game winning streak snapped the previous Saturday in a 53-30 loss to Oregon that seemed to dash its national championship dreams. With No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oregon, No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 7 Clemson all falling this week, the Cardinal's chances might not seem so far-fetched anymore.
They host Notre Dame in the regular-season finale looking to stay in the hunt for another BCS bowl -- if not a slim shot at the national title -- but can only reach the Pac-12 title game if Oregon loses at home to rival Oregon State.
Stanford stuck it out in the slop and emerged with a victory to save what's left of its season.
With a steady stream of rain falling, Luck connected with Toilolo for a 4-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter to extend the Cardinal's lead to 21-13. Stanford stifled Cal's offense again and quickly put the ball back in the hands of its star quarterback.
Luck wasted little time.
He found Toilolo for a 41-yard gain and finished off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to fullback Hewitt to put Stanford in front 28-13.
The Cardinal wasted an opportunity to put the game away earlier when Isi Sofele fumbled. Stanford took over and punted quickly, and Cal pushed ahead with the momentum.
Maynard led a 68-yard drive ending with a short TD pass to Spencer Hagan on third down. After a 2-point conversion on a pass to Marvin Jones, Cal cut Stanford's lead to 28-21 with 10:53 left.
"It was kind of frustrating because they were running the ball a lot right up the middle of the field and controlling the clock," Maynard said. "We had to hurry up and run a two-minute offense, and after that, we just ran out of time."
All that time quickly vanished.
Stanford grinded out 7:40 with a 14-play, 57-yard drive with a series of short runs and passes on slick, soggy field that had defenders sliding in every direction. Even running backs, too.
Jordan Williamson, who missed a 33-yard field goal wide left in the first half and hadn't played in the last three games because of an undisclosed injury, kicked a 35-yard field to give the Cardinal a two-score cushion.
"You've got to have faith in your players," Shaw said. "He missed a kick, but that was the right decision at the time."
That proved pivotal when C.J. Anderson ran for a 1-yard TD run for the Bears with 14 seconds left. But tight end Coby Fleener easily recoved the onside kick to seal Stanford's victory.
The Bears could at least take some satisfaction in closing the disparity between the two teams.
The distance was quite evident a year ago in Berkeley, when Luck and the Cardinal beat the Bears 48-14 in the most lopsided Big Game in 80 years. Cal left Stanford with a 34-28 victory in 2009.
"Any time you lay it all out there like our guys did, these guys have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "They played their hearts out against a really good football team."
This time, both teams had sloppy starts.
Stanford recovered Maynard's wayward pitch back on the game's opening drive and took over at its own 37. Three plays later, freshman Ty Montgomery took a reverse and sprinted 34 yards down the sideline to put the Cardinal ahead 7-0.
The poise and polish Luck has showed so often in his college career again took time to emerge.
Steve Williams stepped in front of a falling Montgomery to intercept Luck's pass and return it 49 yards for a score that was called back because of an illegal block in the back. No matter.
Maynard found half-brother Keenan Allen for a 17-yard TD pass and Giogio Tavecchio kicked his second field goal from 19 yards to give Cal a 13-7 lead in the second quarter.
Stanford powered its way through the rain with a bunched-up running game -- and not Luck -- to regain its rhythm, ending a 10-play, 78-yard drive with Tyler Gaffney's short TD run to go ahead 14-13 at the half.
Cal never came that close again.
California (6-4) at Stanford (9-1) Nov. 19, 10:15, ESPN
Here’s The Deal … There’s plenty to still play for on the Farm; a spot in the National Championship Game and a Pac-12 crown, however, are no longer two of them. Stanford was exposed as a title pretender during last week’s showdown with Oregon, flopping in front of a standing room only audience, 53-30. While it certainly was a deflating first loss for the Cardinal, the program recognizes that two more wins to close out the regular season will likely procure it a second straight bid to a BCS bowl game.
Standing in the way is longtime rival Cal, who’d like nothing more than to salvage something positive out of the 114th Big Game. The Bears are bowl eligible for the eighth time in the last nine years, but that fact hasn’t created a celebratory mood in Berkeley. The program has been no better than mediocre once again for oft-criticized head coach Jeff Tedford, going just 3-4 since sweeping a soft non-conference portion of the schedule. Plus, it’s defeated just one opponent, Utah, that’s currently north of .500.
Why Cal Might Win: Even for a rivalry game, it’s fair to be concerned about the mindset of Stanford, which had its world turned upside down by Oregon. The Cardinal defense was plodding, and QB Andrew Luck was human. Though the wins came in San Francisco against Pac-12 also-rans, the Bears have won their last two games by a combined score of 53-13.
RB Isi Sofele has taken some of the heat away from skittish QB Zach Maynard by rushing for 328 yards and two scores in the back-to-back victories. The defense has really stepped up its play around linemen Trevor Guyton and Ernest Owusu, and linebackers Mychal Kendricks and D.J. Holt. Over the last four games, Cal has not allowed a touchdown pass, while keeping three teams to no more than 69 yards on the ground.
Why Stanford Might Win: While Luck had an uneven game last weekend, two in-a-row from the star quarterback seems unlikely. He’s too good not to bounce back, especially since Cal doesn’t possess as much speed on the edge as Oregon does. With a little more time to throw, the junior will connect early and often with WR Griff Whalen and tight ends Coby Fleener and Levine Toilolo.
The Cardinal defense, which had largely played well throughout the first nine games, ought to bounce back as well. Sofele is playing well, and WR Keenan Allen is dangerous, but Bears QB Zach Maynard is a liability that Stanford is capable of exposing. The Cardinal still leads the Pac-12 in rushing, getting a steady upfield push from well-sized linebackers Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy.
What To Watch Out For: It’s incumbent upon the Stanford receivers to provide more support for Luck than they did a week ago. No, No. 12 wasn’t error-free, but he had an unusual amount of dropped passes. Plus, it’s doubtful that either WR Chris Owusu or TE Zach Ertz will be in pads this weekend. Whalen has stepped up on one side, but Ty Montgomery, whose future is very bright, has shown his tender age since Owusu went down. Luck has access to an outstanding collection of tight ends, but his receivers are nothing compared to what he’ll be throwing to at the next level. His upside has actually been thwarted this fall by his supporting cast.
What Will Happen: This rivalry brings a different degree of emotion and intensity, so anything is typically possible. Cal’s quest for the upset will be thwarted by its inability to sustain drives, and score six inside the red zone. The Stanford defense isn’t as inept as it looked a week ago, and the Bears will be forced to put too much weight on the shoulders of Sofele.
This is not the kind of game that Cal can win with a one-dimensional attack alone. Luck will play with a chip on his shoulder this week, tossing three touchdowns, and combining with RB Stepfan Taylor to humble a streaking Bears defense.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 35 … Cal 23
Click For Latest Line From ATS: Stanford -10.5 O/U: 55.5
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