California may be kicking off the season this Saturday at home against Grambling State, but the game Bears fan has circled on their calendar is Saturday, Nov. 23 – the 118th Big Game against Stanford.
Cal hasn’t won the Big Game since 2009, when a Mike Mohamed interception sealed the deal against Jim Harbaugh and the Cardinal.
Current head coach Sonny Dykes, then, has never won The Axe, and neither has junior quarterback Jared Goff. As a freshman, Goff’s shoulder was dislocated thanks to a tackle by Shayne Skov, though he became the Bears’ single-season passing leader on that throw – a 30-yard completion.
Cal lost that one in Palo Alto by 50 points – 63-13 – while Ty Montgomery made Big Game history with five touchdowns.
After that game, freshman left guard Chris Borrayo made an impassioned speech in the locker room, which helped Cal propel itself into a transformative offseason.
The Bears, though, fell once again in the Big Game in 2014, by the count of 38-17.
Stanford doesn’t have Montgomery anymore, but they still have Kevin Hogan and have added former Cal defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who went across the Bay as a graduate transfer – the first player to play at both Cal and Stanford in nearly 70 years.
In four years at Cal, Scarlett was never healthy enough to play in the Big Game for the Bears. Now that he’s a graduate transfer at Stanford, what are the chances he will be this year? If history is any indication, Cal won’t have to worry.
The players who had to go through the initial humiliating loss in 2013 are now juniors and seniors, and Goff, for one, is tired of losing, and said that this year, he wants The Axe, and he wants Roses.