Prognostication Station: Cal

"Another year where we come in with high expectations and end up finishing right around .500," Cal coach Jeff Tedford lamented. "Who could have seen this coming?... I can promise you one thing though: we won't go down the same path next year."

Berkeley, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2010)

Stanford completely dominated its archrival Cal to win the 2010 Big Game 37-10. The Cardinal scored 10 points in each of the first three quarters, jumped to a 17-0 lead, and outgained the Bears 475 yards to 206 to avenge last year's heartbreaking loss and run away with their most lopsided Big Game win in recent memory.

"Hard to imagine a better day than this," Jim Harbaugh said. "I think we showed everybody who the best team in the Bay Area was today, and I'm incredibly proud of our guys."

Andrew Luck was the MVP for the Cardinal (8-3, 5-3 Pac-10), passing for 382 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers on 29-of-41 accuracy. Ryan Whalen had 104 receiving yards and Chris Owusu tallied 101, as Cal's (6-5, 4-4) secondary looked helpless against a precise Stanford passing attack.

"Another year where we come in with high expectations and end up finishing right around .500," Cal coach Jeff Tedford lamented. "Who could have seen this coming?... I can promise you one thing though: we won't go down the same path next year."

Ten plays after receiving the opening kick, Stanford struck paydirt with a two-yard Jeremy Stewart run.

The Cardinal defense then forced one of two Cal interceptions at the Bear 25, with Johnson Bademosi completing the tip drill. The good field position meant that when Stanford's next drive went three-and-out, the Card could still count on Whitaker (3-of-4 field goals, four XP) to push its lead to 10-0.

"It's been a tough season for me, I'm not going to lie, so to get 3-of-4 was really big today," Whitaker said. "We're so good in the red zone that I don't get to kick that much, so I wanted to make the most of my chance today."

The early two-score deficit left the home crowd largely silent much of the afternoon, and forced the Bears to mostly abandon a rushing attack that likely represented their best shot at victory. Indeed, Cal would finish with just 45 yards rushing, with many of their 30 carries coming in garbage time.

The early lead, meanwhile, allowed Stanford to pin its ears back and pressure the Bear offense into one of its worst performances of the year, as three turnovers and 5-of-17 third down conversions can attest.

After the teams traded punts, the second quarter came along with aerial fireworks, as Luck first found Whalen on a 25-yard corner fade for a touchdown, and then, on the next drive, Cal quarterback Kevin Riley found his tailback, Shane Vereen, on a 44-yard go route for the Bears' only touchdown of the day. A Whitaker field goal with the half running out gave Stanford a 20-7 cushion at the break.

Cal quickly marched to the Stanford 25 to start the second half, but there, Vereen fumbled into the waiting arms of Card linebacker Thomas Keiser.

"Give Shayne Skov credit, he punched out that ball," Keiser said. "All I had to do was fall on it. I almost tried to scoop it and make some people miss, but our offense is so good, I figured just get the ball and let them score. Everyone's happier that way."

Two plays later, Harbaugh went for the knockout punch, and Chris Owusu made sure it connected, hauling in a Luck bomb with his outstretched arms, and outracing two defenders down the right sideline for a 51-yard score that all but cemented Stanford's win.

"It's just like playing in my backyard with my friends as a kid: run down the field as fast as you can, and beat everyone else to the ball," Owusu said. "Today was just one of those days where I could play until the sun went down and never get tired."

The teams traded field goals in the remainder of the third, and then Griff Whalen got a touchdown of his own on a two-yard slant in the early fourth.

"It's good to see the younger guys stepping up," Luck said. "We're going to need someone to throw to after Ryan and Chris are gone, but Griff had a good game, and so did Levine Toilolo."

Stanford now sits alone at third in the conference. Washington, 6-1 in the league, has clinched a Rose Bowl berth as USC is within striking distance at 5-2 in the Pac-10, but is bowl ineligible.

Scoring Summary
1st quarter
TD Stan: J. Stewart 2-yd run, 11:14 left. Stanford 7, Cal 0.
FG Stan: N. Whitaker, 43-yd FG, 8:23 left. Stanford 10, Cal 0.
2nd quarter
TD Stan: R. Whalen 25-yd pass from A. Luck, 14:07 left. Stanford 17, Cal 0.
TD Cal: 44-yd pass from K. Riley, 9:01 left. Stanford 17, Cal 7.
FG Stan: N. Whitaker, 22-yd FG, 0:06 left. Stanford 20, Cal 7.
3rd quarter
TD Stan: C. Owusu 51-yd pass from A. Luck, 12:52 left. Stanford 27, Cal 7.
FG Cal: J. Stewart, 29-yd FG, 7:45 left. Stanford 27, Cal 10.
FG Stan: N. Whitaker, 25-yd FG, 0:26 left. Stanford 30, Cal 10.
4th quarter
TD Stan: G. Whalen 2-yd pass from A. Luck, 12:51 left. Stanford 37, Cal 10.

Box score

First downs1915
Total offense475206
Passing (Comp-Att-Yards-TD)29-41-382-315-31-161-1
Rushing (Att-Yards-TD)39-93-130-45-0
Third down conversions7-195-17
Fumbles lost01

Key Stanford player stats
QB Andrew Luck: 29-of-41 passing, 382 yards, 3 TD
RB Stewart/Wilkerson: 31 carries, 91 yards (combined)
WR Chris Owusu: 101 yards, 1 TD
WR Ryan Whalen: 104 yards, 1 TD
CB Richard Sherman: 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 4 tackles
LB Thomas Keiser: 8 tackles, 1 INT

Stanford schedule
@Stanford 35, Sacramento State 6
Stanford 22, @UCLA 16
Stanford 52, @Wake Forest 14
Stanford 30, @Notre Dame 27
@Oregon 16, Stanford 7
USC 31, @Stanford 7
@Stanford 36, Washington State 21
Stanford 21, @Washington 11
@Stanford 13, Arizona 3
@Arizona State 31, Stanford 28
Stanford 37, @Cal 10
Stanford vs. Oregon State

Inspired by reading stories like this as a kid in the Michigan student newspaper on game days, the author hopes you enjoy reading this series every bit as much as he enjoys writing it. The 2010 season is being simulated on EA Sports NCAA 2011, with the author playing all Stanford games and simulating the rest in a dynasty mode.
All statistics, game summary, rankings, player news and out-of-town scores are reported unchanged from game simulation. (I.e. Don't call the author pessimistic if Stanford struggles. Call him bad at video games.)
Got any idea for future weeks, especially if they're funny? PM dannovi.

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