If you believe in statistics, Saturday's 117th Big Game in Berkeley should be a battle of wills between the Stanford defense and Cal offense.
The Cardinal ranks fourth in the nation in total defense (277.7), seventh in defensive scoring (16.5), ninth against the rush (106.2) and 19th against the pass (109.9). The Bears rank fourth in the country in passing offense (352.8) and ninth in scoring (40.7).
Here's the rub: while the Cardinal offense ranks 96th in scoring offense (23.9), it should have scoring opportunities against a Cal defense that rates 124th out of 125 FBS teams in total defense (518.3) and 120th in scoring (39.5).
Then again, it is the Big Game, where momentum, emotion and big breaks often out-weigh the numbers. Both teams enter with 5-5 records. Kickoff is 1 p.m., with the game televised by FoxSports1.
Stanford has won the past four meetings and romped 63-13 last year, the largest margin of victory in series history. Senior WR Ty Montgomery equaled the school record with five touchdowns and found the end zone the first four times he touched the ball.
The coveted Axe aside, the biggest caveat is that Saturday's winner becomes bowl eligible. The loser will still have another chance, as the Cardinal travels to 11th-ranked UCLA (8-2) the following week, while Cal hosts BYU (6-4).
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As always, there are many Big Game activities leading up to Saturday, including but limited to: the Big Sail on Tuesday in San Francisco Bay; the 65th annual Guardsman Big Game Luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday; and the 103rd Gaieties in Memorial Auditorium at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
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Tickets remain for the Big Game. To purchase seats in the Stanford section, call 800.STANFORD.
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Extra Points . . . Fifth-year senior placekicker Jordan Williamson became Stanford's all-time leader in field goals (60) by converting a 51-yarder in the second overtime against Utah. The previous record was held by John Hopkins (1987-90) . . . One of the loudest cheers at Saturday night's game was accorded to Stanford professor W.E. Moerner, who was introduced to the crowd after the third quarter for winning the Nobel Prize in chemistry . . . Also receiving hearty applause was the 2013 NCAA champion Cardinal women's water polo team, which also was introduced on the field.
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==B Quotable . . . "We have a bad taste in our mouths right now, but we know we can come back strong against Cal next week." -- Fifth-year senior DE Henry Anderson, who recorded career highs with 11 tackles, three sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in the overtime setback to Utah.