The Axe will be up for grabs once again, as Stanford and Cal will face off in the 116th edition of the Big Game this weekend. Stanford suffered a bet of a setback last week in losing to USC on the road, and will be looking to avoid another against lowly Cal, who is still looking for its first conference win in over a year.
If the 1-10 Bears are to have any chance at keeping it close, they will need to generate turnovers, get stout play on the edges from their defensive ends and tackle well — all of which have been in short supply this season. Otherwise, they'll just look to escape unscathed, as this game will end a disastrous, horrific first season for Sonny Dykes.
Rankings and records: No. 9 Stanford has won three straight in the series and leads all time 58-46-11.
Weather: Sunny without a chance of rain.
Three names to know
Brendan Bigelow (California running back) — In the midst of their 21-3 loss to Stanford last season, only one player on Cal's offense looked capable of threatening the Cardinal. That was Bigelow, who showed off an explosiveness that Stanford had difficulty containing, coming tantalizingly close to the end zone on several of his touches. Injuries and some positional shuffling have sapped him of his effectiveness this season, but the man they call the Fresno Flash could be starting to get back on track, as Bigelow crossed the century mark and scored his first two rushing touchdowns of the year against Colorado. If he's at full strength, he has the tools to make things a bit interesting.
Viliami Moala (California defensive tackle) — It takes strong play in the middle to be able to slow Stanford's rushing attack — players who are capable of holding their ground, disrupting things in the backfield and demanding double teams will then free up other defenders to make plays. The 6'2, 315 pound Moala has done that all season on an largely terrible Cal defense, recording 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks at a position that doesn't usually call for stat making.
Ty Montgomery (Stanford wide receiver) — While there figures to be a heavy dosage of Tyler Gaffney all afternoon, when the Cardinal decide to throw it, there's a good chance it will land out in the hands of Montgomery, who has 45 catches on the year to go along with 662 yards and five touchdowns. At 215 pounds, his size is a huge asset against a very small Cal secondary.
Two things at stake
California needs a win to avoid its worst season since 2001, although the odds remain slim that they will actually do so.
After their loss to USC last week, Stanford lost control of the Pac-12 North and would need another Oregon loss to regain it. The best they can do is keep pace with a win and remain in BCS contention as well.
How to witness
TV: 4 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1 (1p.m. PT)
Radio: Cal football radio broadcast: KGO AM 860 | Stanford football radio broadcast: KNBR AM 1050 | XM Satellite Radio 193, 194, 195 | TuneIn radio app
Online streaming: XFinity subscribers can stream the game here.
Rule of Tree has your Stanford needs covered.