Cal Visits Stanford In 124th Big Game Saturday
The 124th playing of the Big Game, the longest series in the West and sixth-longest active rivalry in the country, will take place Saturday at Stanford Stadium (4 pm PT, Pac-12 Netword).There have been 123 editions of the Big Game and Stanford leads the series that dates back to 1892 by a 65-47-11. The Big Game having been determined by a touchdown or less on 54 occasions including five times on the final play and most famously on The Play in 1982 when a five-lateral kickoff return propelled Cal to a 25-20 win over Stanford in Berkeley in what is arguably the most iconic moment in college football history.
Cal was a 24-20 winner the last time the Big Game was played at Stanford on Nov. 23, 2019, taking the lead for good in that contest on Chase Garbers' memorable 16-yard TD run with 1:19 left remaining. Garbers was 20-for-30 for 285 yards and a touchdown, an 18-yard pass to Nikko Remigio, while adding 13 rushes for 72 yards. Christopher Brooks (then known as Christopher Brown Jr.) scored Cal's other touchdown on a 7-yard run in the first quarter.
All-American Candiate Elijah Hicks Making His Mark Across The Nation
— Elijah Hicks added to a long list of prestigious honors last week when he was named a semifinalist for the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year for his demonstrated record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field. Hicks is a semifinalist for the award for the second consecutive season.
— Hicks is also a national semfinalist for the Campbell Trophy and Wuerffel Trophy, as well as a candidate for several other national awards and All-American honors. .
— Hicks founded his non-nonprofit organization, Intercept Poverty Foundation, two years ago and then raised nearly $70,000 to help families feed their school-aged children during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through his foundation, he has also recently begun a program that awards emergency grants to Cal students in need of financial assistance.
— On the field, Hicks ranks second on Daniel Scott with a career-high 50 total tackles, including 5.5 for loss (4.0 TFL over his past three games), has an interception in each of his last three games (Colorado, Oregon State, Arizona) and three forced fumbles.
— Hicks has played in 51 games and started during his Cal career.
The Lowdown On Turnovers
— Cal is tied for the national lead for fewest turnovers (6, with Toledo) and fewest fumbles lost (1, with Missouri and Nevada). The Bears are also tied for 22nd nationally and tied for second in the Pac-12 with only five interceptions thrown.
— The Bears have not committed a turnover in their last four games vs. Oregon, Colorado, Oregon State and Arizona. In addition, the Bears did not have a turnover at TCU, making it no turnovers in five of nine games to date.
— The school record for fewest turnovers in a full season is 13 from the 2019 season (13 games) when the Bears last played a full campaign. The school record for fewest fumbles lost over a full season is three in 2016.
— Cal also ranks first in the Pac-12 and tied for fifth nationally in turnover margin (+1.0 per game, +9 overall). The Bears have forced 15 turnovers, including at least one in every game, while giving up only six.
— Marqez Bimage is second in the Pac-12 and tied for second nationally with three fumbles recovered this year - at Washington, at Oregon and vs. Washington State. In the Oregon State game, he forced and recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage, leading to a Cal touchdown and 7-0 lead.
— With three interceptions this season, Daniel Scott, Elijah Hicks and Nate Rutchena are tied for second in the Pac-12 in interceptions. Hicks' picks have all come over Cal's last three games.
— Chase Garbers has not thrown an interception in his last three games and has gone 120 passes without a pick (since throwing one in the second quarter vs. Washington State). The school record is 185 by Jared Goff in 2015.
Defense Rounding Into Form
— After allowing 417.8 yards and 29.3 points per game through its first four games of the season, Cal's defense is giving up 318.4 ypg and 16.6 ppg over its last five contests.
— As a result, the Bears now rank fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing defense (130.8 ypg), fourth in total defense (362.6 ypg) and third in scoring defense (22.2 ppg).
— The Bears held Oregon to 24 points (tied for the Ducks' lowest total of the season) with Oregon averaging 36.6 ppg against all teams other than Cal this year.
— In a 26-3 win over Colorado, Cal limited the Buffaloes to only 104 yards of total offense - lowest for a Cal opponent since Presbyterian had 48 on Sept. 17, 2011. It also marked the first time the Bears held a conference opponent under 200 yards since Utah managed only 178 yards on Oct. 22, 2011.— In Cal's 39-25 victory over Oregon State, the Bears limited OSU to 134 rushing yards after the Beavers entered the game averaging 245.0 ypg.
— Cal held Arizona to 10 points and without a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
Dual Threat Garbers Leads Pac-12 In Total Offense
— Chase Garbers broke two Cal career quarterback rushing records over his last two games. With a 38-yard scamper on his first carry of the game against Colorado Oct. 23, he snapped the school record for most rushing yards by a Golden Bear quarterback, previously held by Joe Kapp (931 yards). Garbers has 1,083 rushing yards, which includes a career-high 96 yards (on 10 carries) vs. Colorado.
— Garbers scored on a 2-yard rush in the first quarter vs. Oregon State for his 10th career rushing touchdown, a school record for a quarterback. Garbers had shared the old record of nine with Dave Penhall and Brian Bedford.
— Garbers entered the season with a career per-game passing average of 162.0 ypg. This year, though, he is averaging 247.4 ypg through the air, which leads the Pac-12. Add in his rushing yardage, and Garbers also leads the conference with 293.0 ypg of total offense (18th in the country).
— Garbers has tied his career high with 14 passing TDs this year (also 2018 and 2019), while his 1,979 passing yards and 2,344 total offense yards are already career bests for a season.
More Garbers Numbers On The Rise
— Through the eight games he has played this season, Chase Garbers has put up some of the best numbers of his career. To date, he is 171-of-269 for 1,979 yards with 14 touchdown passes.
— In addition to ranking first the Pac-12 in total offense and passing yards, he is sixth in total offense TDs (17), third in passing TDs (14) and fourth in completions (171).
— Garbers' 247.4 passing yards per game are a career best, well ahead of his 196.9 ypg as a 2019 sophomore.
— Two of Garbers' four career 300-yard passing games have come in 2021 at Washington (319) and TCU (309). He also threw for a career-high 365 at Ole Miss in 2019 and 315 yards and at Oregon State last season.
— Garbers' 188.1 passer rating vs. Oregon State was the highest of his career.
— Garbers has 53 plays of 15+ yards in 2021 (44 passes, 9 rushes).
Josh Drayden To Set Cal Career Games Played Record
— Josh Drayden will break Cal's career record for games played when he plays in his 53rd against Stanford. He is currently tied for the lead at 52 with Syd'Quan Thompson.
— Right behind Drayden, Elijah Hicks will play in his 52nd game vs. the Cardinal and Luc Bequette will play in his 51st at Cal.
Nick Alftin Has a Block Party
— Nick Alftin blocked his second punt of the season against Oregon State, this one coming late in the third quarter. After the ball went out of bounds on the Oregon State 38-yard line, Chase Garbers connected on the next play - the final play of the quarter - for a 38-yard TD strike to Trevon Clark and a 31-17 Golden Bear lead.
— Alftin's other blocked punt came against Washington State.
— The last time Cal had multiple blocked punts in one season was in 2015 when the Bears had three.
— Alftin's two blocked punts tie him for the national lead.
Grinding The Clock
— The Bears are second the Pac-12 in time of possession with an average of 30:41 per game, including 38:30 vs. Colorado.
— Cal has held the ball for at least 32 minutes five times, including in three straight contests before the Arizona game - Nevada (32:18), Washington (32:36), Oregon (32:10), Colorado (38:30) and Oregon State (33:59) - with each time resulting in at least a 4:20 edge.
Goode Playing Much Better Than Good
— Although he missed the Oregon State game with an injury, Cameron Goode continues to lead the Bears with six tackles for loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks (-40 yards). He has accumulated 33.5 TFLs and 18.5 QB sacks over his career.
— Goode had his 15th and 16th career sacks for a combined minus-27 yards at TCU. The 2.0 sacks tied a career high (also at UCLA in 2019). Goode added another tackle for loss, giving him 3.0 TFLs (-30 yards) for the game.
— Against Colorado, Goode had 1.5 TFLs and sacks as part of a five-tackle performance. He has 34 total tackles this season and tied for team honors with eight at Washington.
9 Super Seniors
— Nine members of the Cal roster are "super seniors" - student-athletes who took advantage of an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to COVID-19. All were set to play their final collegiate seasons at Cal in the fall of 2020 but decided to return for one additional year.
— The group includes Trevon Clark, Kekoa Crawford, Valentino Daltoso, Marcel Dancy, Kuony Deng, Josh Drayden, Cameron Goode, Elijah Hicks and Luc Bequette.
First-Quarter Drives Help Bears To Quick Starts
— Cal has scored on its opening drive in six of its nine games this season (5 TDs, 1 FG), helping the Bears get off to strong starts.
— Cal opened against Nevada by going 63 yards on 15 plays over 9:03, culminating with a 1-yard TD run by Damien Moore. The Bears followed with a seven-play, 72-yard drive over 4:08 and closed it out with a 2-yard TD pass from Chase Garbers to Nikko Remigio to mark the first time Cal scored touchdowns on its first two possessions since 2018 against Colorado.
— At TCU, the Bears drove 68 yards on their first possession only to be stopped on downs deep inside Horned Frog territory. But the next time they got the ball, they went 68 yards again, finishing with a 54-yard touchdown pass from Garbers to Trevon Clark.
— Against Sacramento State, Cal's first drive went 85 yards, ending in 4-yard TD run by Damien Moore.
— After an interception on its first possession at Washington, the Bears responded with a 13-play, 67-yard TD drive (Garbers to Tonges 1-yard TD).
— Cal had a seven-play, 79-yard opening drive to reach the end zone vs. Washington State (Christopher Brooks 11-yard TD run).
— The Bears drove 75 yards on 13 plays for a TD on their opening drive at Oregon (Garbers to Tonges 9-yard TD).
— Cal ended its first drive vs. Colorado with a 49-yard Dario Longhetto field goal.
— Cal's first drive vs. Oregon State began on the OSU 22-yard line after a Marqez Bimage forced and recovered a fumble to set up a 22-yard drive and Chase Garbers 2-yard TD rush.
Remigio Among Pa-c12 And National Leaders In Returns
— Nikko Remigio is proving to be one of the top returners in the Pac-12 if not the country.
— His 27.1 yards per kickoff return are third in the conference and 14th in the nation.
— Remigio is the only Pac-12 player to have returned a kickoff for a touchdown this season, going 99 yards against Sacramento State. It was Cal's longest return since Trevor Davis had a 100-yarder at Washington State in 2014 (one of two for Davis in that game) and the first for a touchdown since Ashtyn Davis went 89 yards against Idaho State in 2018.
— Remigio is also tied for the Cal lead in receptions with 28 (160 yards, 2 TD).
Hunter, Clark, Crawford Big-Play Receivers
— Cal receivers Jeremiah Hunter, Trevon Clark and Kekoa Crawford each rank among the top 10 in the Pac-12 in yards per catch.
— Hunter is second at 18.5 ypr (21 receptions, 288 yards, 1 TD), while Clark is third with 18.0 ypr (26 receptions, 469 yards, team-leading 3 TDs) and Crawford is ninth (28 receptions, 408 yards)
— Crawford leads the team with 13 catches of 15 or more years, while Hunter and Clark have 11 each.
— Clark (122 at TCU) and Crawford (107 at Washington) have both had 100-yard receiving games this season.
'Uncle Luc' Bequette One Of Most Experienced Players In History
— Luc Bequette, now in his seventh collegiate season - five at Cal, one at Boston College last year, back to Cal for 2021 - continues to be a productive force along the defensive line. Through eight games (he did not play at Arizona), he has 35 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss (-17) and 2.5 sacks (-15 yards).
— Bequette has played in 61 games (50 at Cal) and made 57 starts (46 at Cal) during his career. He is tied for third among active FBS players in career starts and only two behind Thomas Hennigan of Appalachian State (59) while his 61 career games played are tied for eighth and four behind tri-leaders James Skalski, Will Spiers and Will Swinney of Clemson (65). The totals are also believed to be the most ever in FBS history.
— Bequette, whose first season in Berkeley was in 2015 when many of his current teammates were in middle school, has 183 career tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks and six forced fumbles (includes Cal and BC).
— Cal's defense has limited four of eight opponents to under 100 yards rushing this season - Nevada (61), Sacramento State (59), Washington (92) and Colorado (35).
— Dario Longhetto ended the first half vs. Colorado with a 51-yard field goal, the second longest of his career and tied for the longest by a Pac-12 kicker in 2021. He had a 52-yarder at Oregon State in 2020. Longhetto was 4-of-4 on field goals against the Buffaloes, also hitting from 30, 33 and 49 yards. The last time a Cal kicker made four field goals in a game was Matt Anderson vs. UCLA in 2017.
— Five student-athletes have started 30 or more games at Cal: Luc Bequette (46), Valentino Daltoso (43), Elijah Hicks (43), Cameron Goode (34) and Chase Garbers (31).
— Josh Drayden and Cameron Goode, Cal's only two sixth-year seniors who have been teammates all six years, have also been roommates during their entire time in Berkeley.
23 Bears Make CaL Debuts In 2021
— Seven Golden Bears made their Cal debuts against Nevada: Marqez Bimage, Ricky Correia, Lu-Magia Hearns III, Jeremiah Hunter, Keleki Latu, Stanley McKenzie and Raymond Woodie III. Hearns and Latu were the only two true freshmen to play against the Wolf Pack, while Correia, Hunter and McKenzie did not see any game action last season. Bimage (Texas) and Woodie (Florida State) are transfers. Hunter caught a pair of passes for 35 yards, including a 28-yarder that was Cal's longest pass play, and McKenzie was in on two tackles.
— At TCU, four more players made their Golden Bear debuts in Matt Horwitz, Darius Long, Femi Oladejo and Jermaine Terry II. Horwitz is a fifth-year senior who saw his action on kickoff cover while Oladejo became the third and fourth true freshmen to play in 2021.
— Nate Rutchena became the fifth true freshman to see action in 2021 when he made his debut against Washington State and had an interception that he returned six yards. Isaiah Young also made his Cal debut against the Cougars.
— Everett Johnson played in his first game vs. Colorado.
— Andy Alfieri and Dejuan Butler played in their first game against Oregon State.
— Eight Cal players made their first appearances of the 2021 season at Arizona: S Hunter Barth, QB Ryan Glover, C Bastian Sweeney, WR J. Michael Sturdivant, OL Bastian Swinney, FB Beau Tagaloa and DE Derek Wilkins.
Travers Family Endows Head Coaching Position
— The Travers Family made a $10 million commitment from the Travers Family Foundation to UC Berkeley's Light the Way campaign, including a $7.5 million commitment to endow the Travers Family Head Football Coach position, providing essential resources for Cal football to ensure a world-class program, an exceptional coaching staff and a continued positive impact on student-athletes. In addition, the Travers have also made a $2.5 million commitment to augment their endowment for the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science that supports this preeminent, nationally-ranked department.