Bears Pummel Cardinal with Speed

The first half was a close game, but after halftime California made a number of big plays and Stanford was not able to come up with enough plays of their own to outscore Cal…

The Axe once again will reside in Berkeley. For Stanford, this game was not just about the Axe, but an opportunity to become bowl eligible with a win over their rival. The Bears put an end to Stanford's bowl dreams with a 37-16 victory. Stanford's running back Toby Gerhart is one of the best backs in the county, but Stanford does not have enough talent at the other skill positions to strike fear into opposing defenses. The difference in this game was that Cal had more talented players that played great in the Big Game than Stanford did.

The receiver position has been a major issue for California all season long and the only reception by a receiver today did not gain any yards. What the Bears did well today was getting the ball in Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen's hands on a consistent basis. Best and Vereen combined for 31 total carries and 95 yards receiving. Best and Vereen have the ability to break long runs, and on Saturday, when it mattered the most against their rival both players had a number of big plays.

In the second quarter, on quarterback Kevin Riley's best pass of the game, Vereen was split out wide when he ran right by a Cardinal defender Bo McNally for a 59-yard catch for a touchdown. Jahvid Best had so many big plays; it is hard to come up with one that stood above the others. In the first quarter, Best caught a swing pass and was stopped for a loss, but Best was able to break the tackle and run across the field for 60 yards. That play summed up the speed difference between Cal and Stanford.

Once again, the Bear defense made play after play. Before halftime, Stanford was attempting to score a touchdown and Toby Gerhart was stopped at the one-yard line on consecutive plays, and the Cardinal had to settle for a 20-yard field goal. In the second half, Stanford again went to Gerhart on a 4th-and-1 and the Bear defense came up big again and stuffed him. California was able to send a message to Stanford that they had the ability to stop Stanford's best player in crucial situations. On the other hand, Stanford did not have an answer for Best or Vereen.

Best finished the game with a career-high 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Tavita Pritchard was sacked multiple times by Zack Follett and was picked off three times. Gerhart was able to gain 101 rushing yards, but Stanford had an opportunity to go up 7-3 when Tyson Alualu stripped the ball from Gerhart. The defense has been successful all season at creating turnovers and Stanford became another victim to the swarming Bear defense on Saturday afternoon in the Big Game at Memorial Stadium.

Cal was able to stop a two game losing streak on a resounding note. With a win on December 6 over Washington at home, the Bears can end the regular season with two victories in a row. Furthermore, if Oregon State and USC can win out and both make BCS games it is possible that Cal could end up in the Holiday Bowl. No matter what bowl game Cal goes to, they will have the opportunity to finish the season with nine wins. The Bears also can prove that if they experience a couple bad weeks in a row, they have the ability to get back on track.

By any means, if Cal can carry this type of attitude into next season, one loss will not dictate the level of effort they play with for the remainder of the season. It would be more likely that they could finish a season 11-1 or 10-2 and not 8-4 or 7-5.

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