The Big Game beat rolls on and on: Stanford triumphs over cal, 63-13, in a record-setting Big Game rout

November 25, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 25, 2013

The 116th edition of Big Game got off to a brisk start. Stanford put the first points on the board exactly one minute in, courtesy of Lee Ward advancing the kickoff 30 yards, a pass interference flag and Ty Montgomery’s 31-yard touchdown run. Fewer than three minutes later, california (lowercase c intentional) had matched that score with Jared Goff’s touchdown toss to Maurice Harris.

cal, alas, is a team that does many, many things wrong. That proved true upon the ensuing possession. First, there was the kickoff — a 15-yard boot that was caught at midfield with no return. On the very next play, Kevin Hogan dropped back and found Montgomery, who went the distance for a 50-yard touchdown.

Here’s how the rest of the possessions in the first quarter went:

• cal: 3 plays, minus-1 yard, punt.

• Stanford: 7 plays, 51 yards, 12-yard Montgomery touchdown pass from Hogan.

• cal: 3 plays, 5 yards, punt.

• Stanford: 3 plays, minus-2 yards, punt.

• cal: 11 plays, 83 yards, 29-yard Vincenzo D’Amato field goal.

The home team ended the first quarter up by a 21-10 margin, and things only got more lopsided from there. D’Amato would hit a 47-yard kick in the second quarter for cal’s last points of the game. But in that same period, the Cardinal added another 21 points: a 72-yard touchdown on a short Hogan-to-Montgomery connection, a 45-yard TD that Hogan tossed to Michael Rector, and a 9-yard touchdown thanks to another Hogan hookup with Montgomery.

Montgomery’s four passing touchdowns, and five overall TDs, tied school marks respectively set by Ken Margerum in 1980 and Darrin Nelson the following year.

Also of note: The 42 points were the most Stanford had ever had in the first half. And other records would be rewritten…

The Bears were in trouble, and not just because of the score. A legal but hard hit by Shayne Skov appeared to leave cal quarterback Jared Goff with an injured arm, just after Goff had set a school record for total offense in a season. (Ironically, this happened shortly after Skov laid a helmet-to-helmet hit on Goff that struck me as both highly illegal and highly dangerous; no penalty was issued.) Backup Zach Kline was therefore charged with attempting to rally the Bears.

cal got the ball to open the second half. Sonny Dykes called for a fake punt on fourth down and four yards to go at the Bears’ 42-yard-line, but Stanford sniffed out the play, and Patrick Skov stopped the receiver three yards shy of the first-down line.

The Cardinal’s drive ended with a Hogan fumble, but the defense induced a cal punt. Hogan and company responded by driving 93 yards; on second down and 10 to go, Tyler Gaffney took a snap out of the mildcat — wait, make that wildcat; or on second thought, let’s call it the WildGaff — and rushed 58 yards for a touchdown. Conrad Ukropina’s PAT kick made the score 49-13 in Stanford’s favor, thereby setting a new mark for points scored by a team in Big Game.

Following a Bears punt, Stanford fielded its offense with backups Evan Crower under center and Anthony Wilkerson at running back; 9:16 was left in the third quarter. That drive led nowhere, but on the next Cardinal possession, the speedy Kelsey Young swept around left end for a 27-yard rushing touchdown. Nine minutes away from the final gun, the men in red held a 56-13 lead.

Montgomery (five catches, 160 yards, four receiving touchdowns; one rushing touchdown) was out of the game; so were Hogan (17 for 26 with a career-best 329 yards and five throwing TDs) and Gaffney (95 yards and a score on 16 carries — excellent, but just shy of what would have been a sixth straight game breaking the century mark). But there was still a little suspense left in the contest: Would Stanford, which entered on a 35-game-long streak of forcing an opponent turnover, manage to extend the string?

Khalfani Muhammad fumbled on the kickoff after Young’s score, but he managed to recover the ball. But on third down, sophomore linebacker Blake Martinez picked off a Kline pass. Interestingly, Martinez — who doesn’t even appear on the Stanford three deep — had forced Muhammad’s fumble moments earlier.

The Cardinal took advantage, with Crower converting fourth and four at cal’s 26-yard line with a pass to Keanu Nelson. Shortly afterward, he found Francis Owusu for a 14-yard touchdown. The first of what will hopefully be many more scores for the freshman — yes, the younger brother of Chris — followed a 42-yard reception earlier in the drive, which was his initial collegiate catch.

Owusu’s touchdown, with 1:51 remaining, closed out the scoring. When time had expired, Stanford was on top with a 63-13 win, and the team had set Big Game records for points scored and margin of victory. James Vaughters (six tackles, tied with Martinez for the team lead) had a sack; so did Trent Murphy, who has a nation-leading 13 this year.

But savvy Stanford fans weren’t watching only this game on Saturday. The shocker that was developing in the desert in Tucson came to fruition thanks to the running of Ka’Deem Carey (206 yards, four touchdowns) and B.J. Denker (102 rushing yards, plus 178 passing yards with two scores). That plus some uncharacteristic turnovers by Oregon resulted in the Ducks being upset by Arizona, 42-16.

The unexpected loss abruptly reopened the pathway for Stanford to reach a BCS bowl; the Cardinal is set to face Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship game, and a win there would return the team to Pasadena for a second Rose Bowl in as many years.

But first things first. Having the Stanford Axe is awesome, especially since this 50-point blowout will send off the fourth-year seniors with four straight victories over california.

But returning the Legends Trophy to the Stanford campus wouldn’t be too shabby. Next Saturday night, the Cardinal will meet Notre Dame under the lights at Stanford Stadium. Anyone who recognizes the phrase “Stepfan was in!” knows that Shaw’s squad has a bit of unfinished business from last year to attend to.

I’ve got a feeling that the game could be a lot of fun to watch. What say you?

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