It’s that time of the year again! The Big Game is here. But wait…isn’t it October still?
Feel’s weird, doesn’t it? The Pac-12 kinda screwed us a bit here but you know what, ready or not here it comes! The 115th Big Game and the 30th Anniversary of The Play. Two weeks ago, most of us thought Cal probably had no chance against Stanford but look now, a bunch of sports analysts say Cal is going to pull off the upset including BOTH of ESPN’s Pac-12 Blog Analysts. Uh oh, in the past few years when Cal had to live up to expectations it usually spelled DOOOOOOOM for us. Stanfurd’s offense has not shown up on the road where they have yet to score an offensive touchdown while Cal has looked pretty good the past couple weeks. “IT’S A TRAP!!!”. Remember all those games that Cal played where everyone was like “Oh yeah, the opposing team aren’t looking so hot right now. Cal should have a good chance of winning” and then Cal gets its ass kicked? I may be really pessimistic right now, but that’s the life of a Golden Bear.
So what does Cal need to focus on in order to win back the Axe?
- 3rd and Longs: Cal needs to avoid 3rd and longs like the freaking plague. In the past couple games, Marcus Arroyo has done a great job of selecting the right plays for Maynard to manage on 1st and 2nd downs to allow us to open up the playbook on easy 3rd downs. However, look for Stanford’s Chase Thomas to bring the heat all game long to force Maynard to make those dumb decisions that we have seen in most of the first half of the season. On the flip side, Cal’s D needs to force 3rd and longs to force Nunes to make plays. He’s no Luck and as he has shown in Stanfurd’s losses, he is not very capable of making clutch plays on 3rd and longs. Pendergast will need the same formula that Washington and Notre Dame had on defense to make Nunes uneasy the entire game.
- Tight Ends: Stanfurd has a great All-American Tight End in Zach Ertz and potential future All-American Levine Toilolo. As it always has been since Harbaugh, the tight end has been used on pass plays extensively. Stanfurd’s tight end has been the top receiver for every game except for their first. The tight end was also one of the main reasons Cal lost last year against Stanfurd. Is Nick Forbes or Jalen Jefferson up to the task to prevent big plays from Zach Ertz? For Cal, we have a great tight end in Richard Rodgers, and I think it’s time for him to continue the Rodgers legacy during Big Games. Notre Dame did a pretty good job last week in keeping their tight end involved so Cal should do the same.
- Play-Makers: We know who are playmakers are. Maynard and Tedford just has to get it to them. Anderson will most likely be used extensively to pound it hard on the Stanfurd Defense just like Shane Vereen did in 2009. Bigelow’s speed will create a lot of problems for Stanfurd if he can get into space. And of course, get that ball to Keenan Allen, unless he’s getting tripled team because Stanfurd will most definitely have at least two sets of eyes on him all game. For Stanfurd, it’s their tight ends and running back Stepfan Taylor. Cal’s front seven must be stout but also smart.
- Penalties: Cal is still one of the worst teams in terms of penalties. Luckily, Cal’s offensive line only had one flag the entire game against WSU, which is outstanding. However, there were a lot of PIs (though many controversial) and dumb plays that Cal must cut back on in order to defeat Stanfurd.
Let’s get the AXE you Bears! Fans need a reason to rush the field this season and this is the perfect mid-season boost that the team needs! Go Bears! Let’s do this!!!!