Stanford University

120th Big Game – GoStanford.com


Television

Live national broadcast on FOX with Joe Davis (play-by-play), Brady Quinn (analyst) and Jen Hale (sideline).

Radio

Live coverage on Stanford’s flagship station — KNBR 1050 AM — with Scott Reiss ’93 (play-by-play), Todd Husak ’00 (analyst) and John Platz ’84 (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.com • CalBears.com • #GoStanford


Big Game History

  • • Beginning with the first game played between the two schools on March 10, 1892, the rivalry between Stanford and California has grown into one of the most colorful in all of college football. Cal is Stanford’s oldest rival. Saturday marks the 120th meeting between Stanford and Cal, which ranks tied for the seventh-longest rivalry among FBS programs. The Cardinal leads the series, 62-46-11, and has won seven in a row and eight of the past 10.
  • • An overflow crowd of over 20,000 filled the Haight Street Grounds in San Francisco to witness the first Big Game in 1892. Stanford’s team manager, Herbert Hoover, who later became the 31st President of the United States, printed 10,000 tickets for the 15,000-seat stadium on the corner of Haight and Stanyan Streets. As the crowd continued to fill the stadium, Hoover ran out of tickets and was forced to collect coins at the gate, dispensing the money in empty wash tubs and boxes.
  • • With the team captains from both teams on the field for pregame instructions, referee Jack Sherrard politely asked for the ball to commence the game. However, there was one slight problem — no one had remembered to bring the ball. A fan set off on horseback to retrieve a ball from a nearby sporting goods store and the first Big Game was born. Stanford upset Cal, 14-10, and Hoover and the Cal team manager counted $30,000 receipts from the game — enough to finance the team for next season.
  • • The Big Game has been a series where “anything can happen and usually does.” The 1982 game will forever be remembered for one of the most memorable and dramatic endings in college football history, known simply as “The Play.”
  • • Stanford had taken a 20-19 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Mark Harmon with just four seconds left in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Cal scored the game-winning touchdown on a five-lateral, 57-yard kickoff return, culminating in Cal’s Kevin Moen bowling over Gary Tyrell, a trombonist in the Stanford band.
  • • Stanford’s answer to “The Play” occurred in 1990 when the Cardinal scored nine points in the final 12 seconds to pull out an improbable 27-25 victory. Stanford quarterback Jason Palumbis connected with wide receiver Ed McCaffrey on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left, drawing the Cardinal to within one point at 25-24. After Stanford’s two-point conversion failed, the Bears celebrated certain victory. However, the Cardinal recovered the onside kick and after Cal was penalized 15-yards on the first play of the drive, Stanford found itself at the Cal 22-yard line. John Hopkins calmly kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Cardinal a 27-25 victory in Berkeley.
  • • Stanford owns the longest winning streak, claiming seven consecutive games from 1995-2001. However, Cal rebounded to capture five straight from 2002-2006. The Bears also won five in a row from 1919-1923 and own the longest unbeaten streak of eight games from 1947-54 (two ties). The Cardinal also posted a six-game winning streak from 1961-1966.
  • • Stanford has produced nine shutouts in the series, with Cal recording 13, including a three-year stretch from 1936-1938. There was also a 0-0 tie at Cal in 1932. The highest winning point total is 63, set by Stanford in 2013. In 1975, Cal won at Stanford, 48-15, scoring the most points by the Bears in the Big Game.
  • • The Stanford Axe is a trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Big Game. The trophy consists of an axe-head mounted on a large wooden plaque, along with the scores of past Big Games.
  • • The Stanford Axe was originally a standard 15-inch lumberman’s axe. It made its first appearance on April 13, 1899, during a Stanford rally when yell leaders used it to decapitate a straw man dressed in blue and gold ribbons while chanting the Axe yell.
  • • The Axe made its second appearance two days later on April 15, 1899, at a baseball game played between Stanford and Cal in San Francisco. The Stanford yell leaders paraded the Axe and used it to chop up blue and gold ribbon after every good play by the Stanford team. Soon after the game, a group of Cal students seized it and ran off with the Axe. It was passed from student to student, and a chase ensued through the streets of San Francisco, first followed by Stanford students and fans and second followed by the San Francisco police. During the chase, the Axe’s handle was broken off. The Axe made its way to Berkeley and was stored in a fraternity house, and later, in a bank.
  • • Since 1933, Cal students have stolen the Axe three times and Stanford students four times. The most recent incident occurred in 1973. When Stanford has the Axe, it is guarded by the Stanford Axe Committee and kept in a secret location, when not on display in Stanford’s Home of Champions.
  • • During the Big Game, the Stanford Axe is displayed by the school that won the Big Game during the previous year. The Stanford Axe is transferred at the Big Game during what is known as “The Stare Down.” With two minutes remaining in the Big Game, the Stanford Axe is brought to the 50-yard line, where the chairman of the UC Rally Committee and the Stanford Axe Committee wait until the end of the game to determine who will take the Axe. Once the game ends, the winner of the Big Game takes possession of the Axe until the next Big Game is played.

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