Stanford football David Shaw has been involved in the Big Game as a player and assistant coach. It still means a lot to him.
"Guys have no idea until they play in their first Big Game," Shaw said Tuesday. "During the course of the week you start to feel it. The campus gets involved. People who never talk sports all year are suddenly aware it's Big Game week. Everybody gets excited about this game."
Cardinal junior tight end Greg Taboada, who was raised in Atlanta, nearer to SEC rivalries, grasped the significance of it during last year's game.
"I had no idea," he said. "You see things walking around campus. People are excited about it. There's a lot of history to it."
Saturday's 7:30 p.m. kickoff is the 118th edition of the Big Game. The Cardinal has won 60 of them. Fifth-year senior defensive end Brennan Scarlett will play in his first Big Game, despite the four years he spent on Cal's football team. He's Stanford's first-ever graduate transfer, but missed the Big Game because of injury. Dale Rubin was the last to play for both teams, at Cal in 1962 and at Stanford 1964-65.
Shaw has yet to lose to the Bears as head coach, winning four games.
"Every rivalry has its own history. The best rivalry is the proximity," Shaw said. "You see people wearing a Cal shirt who say 'Go Bears' and they see people wearing a Stanford shirt who say 'Go Cardinal.' You see those people a lot and we want the bragging rights. Then there's the history of the ax. People who have been around have seen some phenomenal games in the Big Game."
Senior cornerback Ronnie Harris will not play against Cal due to an ankle injury suffered in Saturday's 38-36 loss to Oregon.
"It's too bad because he was having an all-conference type season," Shaw said. "He was playing well. He's working like crazy to get back for Notre Dame."
Sophomore Alameen Murphy will start in his place and will be backed up by junior Taijuan Thomas and senior Ra'Chard Pippens.
Harris has 32 tackles, including one for a loss, and has recorded 10 break ups, easily the most on the team.
GOLDEN BEAR TO CARDINAL
Scarlett's transfer to Stanford was fortunate for the Cardinal, which was thin on the defensive line before he showed up.
"He's brought an energy, a fire," Shaw said. "He makes the extra effort. He runs down guys from the backside. He sprints full speed and makes plays."
Scarlett was still rehabbing when he got to Stanford and had to learn a new position.
"It's been tough," Shaw said. "He had a lot to learn from the playbook and had a lot to learn technique-wise once he could play. He's willing to learn. He wants to do it right."
Scarlett has 26 tackles, including 3 1/2 sacks, 5 1/2 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
"He's shown how important he is," Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez said.