Big Game Week Kibbles & Bits

The media was out in full force Monday in San Francisco as reporters crawled over Coach Harbaugh, Heisman front-runner (at least in our minds) Toby Gerhart, and a couple of random representatives from the "Evil Empire of the East Bay". Read on for the latest themes and dreams as we head toward Saturday's looming match-up of ranked rivals in the no longer "friendly" confines of Stanford Stadium!

Big Game Week Kibbles & Bits

The 112th Big Game should bring a full house of Stanford cardinal & white and Cal blue & gold to Stanford Stadium on Saturday. The kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Cal owns The Axe after belting the Cardinal 37-16 last year in Berkeley behind running back Jahvid Best's 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns. However, Best is out of Saturday's game with concussion symptoms, according to Cal coach Jeff Tedford.

Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh is taking the same approach no matter who is suiting or not suiting up for the Bears (7-3, 4-3 Pac-10). Stanford (7-3, 6-2 Pac-10) still has an outside shot for the Rose Bowl if a few dominos can fall just right.

The Big Game Is... The Big Game

"We have in our minds that this game has an 'NFL-playoff' mentality," said Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who is attempting to win his second Big Game in three years. "This may be the championship game. We win, we stay in the hunt for a Pac-10 championship. We don't win, we're out of it. We haven't left ourselves any 'exit strategy'."

"It's the Big Game," Cardinal running back Toby Gerhart said. "It's above and beyond one game. It's the school, it's the community. Everyone takes pride in that one game. We want to beat Cal."

Gerhart Could Win Heisman Trophy

Gerhart, with 1,395 yards and 19 touchdowns, is in line to become Stanford's second Heisman Trophy winner. Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com currently has Gerhart No. 2 on his Heisman Watch list behind Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

"The Heisman Trophy is one of those awards that has evolved to where 50 percent of it is about preseason hype," Harbaugh said. "Twenty-five percent of is giving it to somebody who is on an undefeated team. And the other 25 percent is actually what the player is accomplishing. You like a running back who can score touchdowns, then he has 19 of those. He has been over 100 yards in eight of our games. The two others, he had 88 and 97 yards. Gerhart is very deserving of the Heisman Trophy."

"Gerhart catches the ball out of the backfield," Tedford said. "He's a great protector in pass protection. He's an all-around great player. I would agree with Coach Harbaugh in saying he deserves consideration to be one of the top players in the country. You won't find many tougher runners than Toby Gerhart."

Gerhart isn't the kind of guy to walk around campus bragging about himself.

"I've always been real quiet, real shy, real humble," Gerhart said. "That defines my personality. But, winning the Heisman is every kid's dream. But, that's more about the team. We're finally getting national attention. It has made a name for Stanford Football."

Gerhart isn't sure if he'll return to play baseball for the Cardinal in the spring. The NFL seems to be in the offing in 2010.

"It seems to be that way," Gerhart said. "I'm trying to stay healthy for these past few games. After the season's over, I'll evaluate things. I love football. At this point, it looks to be my future."

Gerhart, who is taking 21 units this quarter, is expected to graduate in March.

Nothing "Luck-y" About It

Cardinal redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck keeps improving each game. Luck has thrown for 2,220 yards and 13 touchdowns. He leads the Pac-10 conference in passing efficiency at 151.8.

"I thought Andrew Luck would play well," Harbaugh said. "He has surpassed what we thought he would do in his freshman year."

"Andrew Luck is the most underrated quarterback in the country," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "You don't hear a lot about him.
He is unbelievably poised, confident and accurate as a passer. If you pressure him, he can escape and make plays. He's smart with the football. They've done a great job of coaching him. He's one of the most impressive quarterbacks I have seen this year."

Harbaugh Extension

Harbaugh is confident that he'll be at Stanford for awhile. A contract extension is expected to be finalized soon.

"I love Stanford," Harbaugh said. "I love Stanford Football. I love the stadium, our tradition, our coaches and, most of all, our players. I hope I have the honor of coaching at Stanford for a very long time. Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby and I will have an announcement on that in the not-so-distant future. Right now, our focus is on Cal and the Big Game this weekend."


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