The Bootleg Archives
Nov. 17, 1995
Vol. II, Nr. 11
The Bootleg's Top Big Games
Back when a pre-vineyard-vintage Bill Walsh still believed he had something to prove. Darrin Nelson went freakin' bananas! There had been a suspiciously low betting line on the game, which went out of control in the final hours before kick-off as the smart money came pouring in. The smart money was right. The legendary swing-pass out in the left flat, where the incomparable Darrin juked half the Cal defense out of its cleats, was a world-class play. The decisive 30-10 victory sent Stanford to the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, where we would spread Margerum on Georgia's toast!
The headline in the Chicago Tribune (that's how big this game was) summed it up perfectly: "Stanford Shuts California Up". The obnoxious "Bullies from Berkeley" were exposed in front of the entire country! For Pete's sake, even their kicker (noted choke-artist Doug Brien) got flagged for a personal foul! Vardell over "Highway 70" (Bob Whitfield) over and over again! "Touchdown Tommy" is still picking Bear-bits out of the cleats he wore that day. Trash-talking Cal WR Brian Treggs never did make good on his "promise" to move to Palo Alto if Cal lost. Bruce Snyder left town in disgrace (or was it the cool 3 mil?). Or perhaps because he wouldn't have to play Stanford for three years? Complete humiliation for Cal! Nice.
Great back-and-forth college football classic. Who can forget the phantom Cal TD in the first half? With 1:27 to go in the 4th, "St. John of Elway" calmly executes the two-minute offense to perfection (something we've seen from him a zillion times by now), calmly scrambling out of trouble, moving his team down the field, completing a clutch pass to Emile "Dirty" Harry on 4th and forever. Mike Dotterer swept left for 21 yards to the Cal 18. Mark "Don't Squeeze the" Harmon boots the winning field goal for a sweet 20- 19 victory in "their house"!
Who can forget the Shot Heard ‘Round the Bay, courtesy of Mike Langford's golden toe? Cal had their breakthrough year under Mike White and was 7-2-1. Stanford had a sputtering offense in spite of the presence of future NFL pros such as Hill, Benjamin, Lofton, Laidlaw etc. and came in 4-4-2. With 26 seconds left, Steve Bartkowski hit Ron "Buick" Rivera for the go-ahead TD, giving Cal a 1-point lead. With no time-outs, Benjamin hit Ted Pappas for a first down and then connected with TE Brad Williams, who heroically dragged two desperate Bear defenders with him out-of-bounds to stop the clock with 2 seconds left. Langford nailed the 50-yarder.
"The game is not over. Please clear the field!" You just had the feeling it wasn't over! After a failed two-point conversion, a sea of blue and gold smugness had washed across the Memorial Stadium plasto-grass. One celebration penalty, one successful on-side kick, one blatant roughing-the-passer penalty later, Card kicker John Hopkins was on the sidelines kicking footballs high into the stands [By the way, if anyone out there has one of those balls, The Bootleg will pay serious dough to acquire it]. A football, sailing effortlessly through the night sky and between the goalposts into a parting sea of red, ignited pure pig- skin pandemonium. That sickly green astro-carpet, now covered with red shirts, dancing the night away to the sacred strains of "All Right Now." Storybook ending to a fairytale game. A classic duel between all-purpose scatback Glyn Milburn and his foil, Russell White. Bruce "Take the Money & Run" Snyder at the post-game press conference: "In my 20-some-odd years of coaching, I've been through a lot of things that were painful, but nothing...that was quite...quite this...painful..." To this day, a game the Weenies need a pigskin proctoscope to remove from their south end-zone.
1977: Cal had not given up a first-quarter point all season long, yet we took the opening kick-off and drove straight down the field for a TD. We dominate, 21-3.
1924: We tied Cal 20-20, but still head to the Rose Bowl.
1988: All hail Tuan Van Lee, perpetrator of the greatest blocked FG in "Large Game" history - the only time we've ever been happy about a sister-kisser of a tie with Cal.
1976: Duncan McColl recovered a Bear fumble on Cal's own 2 yard-line with only 2:25 left and Ron Inge scored the winning TD. Coach Jack Christiansen goes out a winner, 27-24.
1984: "Muster the ball carrier" - 204 yards on 34 carries.
1989: Sentimental choice as it was the last game in which alcohol was allowed into Stanford Stadium.
1971: Last Big Game for the Indians, who had the inside track to go to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive year. Cal was on Pac-8 probation, but was suing to have their games count in the conference standings. If Cal could beat Stanford and win their suit, they would weasel their way into the Rose Bowl. Stanford 14,Cal 0. Thank you, Thunderchickens!
[Editor's Note: This story originally was written in 1995 – It could easily be argued that 2000's OT game or the Rose Bowl clinching "Run for the Roses" game in 1999 (each Cardinal win featuring a memorably clutch, heroic effort from fullback Casey Moore - now a member of the Stanford Football staff!) should be included in this inspirational list - not to mention next Saturday's game featuring two simultaneously ranked rivals.]