Cardinal Falters In Big Game
Nov. 19, 2005
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Marshawn Lynch ran for 123 yards and a touchdown, and first-time starter Steve Levy passed for 125 yards and another score in California's fourth straight victory over Stanford, 27-3 Saturday night in the 108th Big Game.
Justin Forsett ran for a 21-yard score and running back Terrell Williams threw a TD pass for the Golden Bears (7-4, 4-4 Pac-10), who held the Cardinal without a touchdown for the second straight season. Cal's inspired defense sacked Stanford's two quarterbacks eight times in another one-sided edition of Northern California's biggest college rivalry.
Jeff Tedford is unbeaten in the Big Game since taking over at Cal, becoming the first Bears coach to start the rivalry 4-0 since 1921. While relying on the Bears' impressive running game, Tedford asked little of Levy, who performed smoothly in place of struggling starter Joe Ayoob.
Cal has outscored Stanford 126-32 since 2002, and the Bears have won four straight Big Games for the first time since 1939.
T.C. Ostrander passed for 143 yards after relieving injured Stanford starter Trent Edwards, but both quarterbacks took poundings from Cal's dominant defense. The Cardinal managed 224 total yards, including just 16 yards rushing.
Though coach Walt Harris has rebuilt much of the Stanford (5-5, 4-4) program in his first season, the Cardinal must beat Notre Dame next week to become eligible for their first bowl game since 2001. Stanford already would be eligible if it hadn't lost to Division I-AA UC Davis earlier in the season.
Cal, which already clinched bowl eligibility, won for just the second time in six games after a 5-0 start.
Levy, a junior who played fullback last season, got the nod Thursday to replace Ayoob, who struggled through his last four games. Levy, Cal's only East Coast native, was his usual calm self, going 10-for-18 with one interception and hitting freshman DeSean Jackson with a 56-yard TD pass on Cal's second possession.
Forsett scored in the third quarter, and Lynch added a 3-yard TD in the fourth. Lynch surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the season, but Forsett fell 38 yards short in Cal's quest for two 1,000-yard rushers for just the second time in school history.
Williams was a star freshman at Cal in 2001, but had barely played in the ensuing four seasons. He finally got another moment in the spotlight when he threw a 14-yard TD pass to tight end Craig Stevens on a halfback option with 3:31 to play.
Edwards passed for just 75 yards and got sacked five times before his third straight Big Game was affected by an injury, leaving in the third quarter with an apparent neck problem after getting dropped by Brandon Mebane.
The junior was knocked out of the 2003 Big Game with a thigh bruise, then couldn't play last season because of a shoulder injury.
More than half of Stanford Stadium's 71,743 fans were wearing blue and gold - and after the game, most of the Bears went to the southeast corner to celebrate with the crowd, cheerleaders and band. The Cardinal billed the meeting as the final Big Game at Stanford Stadium, which will undergo an extensive $85 million renovation in the offseason.
For most of the night, both teams played a run-dominated, pass-deficient style more suitable to the earliest contests in the building, which hosted its first Big Game in 1921. The schools combined for 221 total yards and 10 punts in a deadly-dull first half.
Jackson, a freshman who dropped a handful of key passes in a loss to Oregon two weeks ago, made the only big offensive play of the half. After outmaneuvering T.J. Rushing for a sideline pass, Jackson eluded Rushing again while scoring his fifth TD.
After Edwards left and Stanford punted, Cal's ensuing drive ended in Forsett's first touchdown in six weeks. After the Cardinal's best second-half drive ended in a missed field goal, the Bears quickly drove 77 yards for Lynch's score.