An excruciating defeat for the Bears, who drove to a potential game-tying touchdown with 58 seconds left, only to have Dario Longhetto's PAT kick blocked.
Christopher Brown Jr., who sat out much of his second straight game, helped power the final 90-yard drive and scored on a 3-yard third-down run to pull Cal within 24-23.
But special teams torpedoed the Bears one last time, following an early blocked field and fumbled fair catch on a punt return try.
Cal fell to 0-3 and must win its final three games in order to become bowl eligible. The Bears face No. 9 Oregon at home next Saturday.
Cal and Stanford bring identical 0-2 records to an empty Memorial Stadium for what shapes up as a unique Big Game. And that's hard to do after 122 previous editions.
The game is big for both teams because the Pac-12 Conference has ruled that a team must have at least a .500 record in conference games to be eligible for bowl play.
That means the loser of this game must win its final three games to be considered for the postseason.
Cal's remaining schedule begins next Saturday at home against Oregon, followed by a Dec. 12 trip to Washington State. The Bears' final regular-season game on Dec. 19 has yet to be determined.
Teams are beginning to warm. Cal running back Christopher Brown Jr., who missed the Oregon State game last week with an undisclosed injury, was on the field early but it's unclear whether he will play or was just testing out his body. Will update as soon as we have something definitive.
About 35 minutes before kickoff and Brown is dressed. But while others are doing the usual pre-game stuff, he was talking with one of Cal's trainers and riding a stationary bike. Playing status still seems iffy.
For your pregame viewing, we offer this video interview from former Cal quarterback Mike Pawlawski with current Bears QB Chase Garbers. Our thanks, as always, to Mike. If you know anyone looking for coaching in a range of sports, check out his website: www.eliteathletestv.com
Back soon with personnel updates, then our in-game thread that will keep you up-to--date on what's happening on the field.
*** Personnel update: O-linemen Jake Curhan, Valentino Daltoso and Will Craig are out (COVID-19 protocol). Also out are OLB Braxten Croteau, NG Stanley McKenzie and TE Collin Moore. But center Mike Saffell is warming up and expected to play. RB Christopher Brown Jr. has warmed up - we'll see how much be plays.
*** A few adventurous fans have made their way up Tightwad Hill despite announcements it would be closed off for Big Game Viewing:
10:57 3rd Q: Austin Jones, a sophomore running back from Antioch who attended Bishop O'Dowd High in Oakland, scores on a 2-yard run and Stanford takes it first lead of the day. The 41-yard drive was set up by Marcel Dancy's fumble at the end of a 10-yard run after taking an option pitch from Garbers. Thomas Booker made his second fumble recovery of the day for the Cardinal. Davis Mills put the Cardinal in striking distance with a 33-yard completion to Michael Wilson to the 8. Stanford 17, Cal 10.
9:13 3rd Q: Cal ties it up on a 3-yard TD pass from Garbers to Remigio, capping a 75-yard drive. The big play - a 54-yard run by freshman RB Damien Moore to the Stanford 12. Garbers is now 14 for 16 for 102 yards and two TDs. Cal 17, Stanford 10.
1:51 3rd Q: Jones into the end zone again, on a powerful 8-yard blast through left tackle and Stanford is back in front. The drive turned when Cal's Elijah Hicks was flagged for defensive holding, nullifying an interception by Daniel Scott. Davis Mills was 5-for-5 for 40 yards on the drive. Stanford 24, Cal 17.
1:02 4th Q: The Bears drove from their own 10-yard line to score on Christopher Brown's 3-yard burst on third down. Then the special teams struck again, and Stanford's Omari Porter blocked Dario Longhetto's PAT try that could have tied the score. Cal's subsequent onside kick try was unsuccessful and the Cardinal ran out the clock. Final score: Stanford 24, Cal 23.
Coin toss: Stanford won the toss and deferred. Cal will receive the opening kickoff at the south end of the stadium.
First play: Marcel Dancy starts at RB and goes 23 yards to the Cal 48. (Christopher Brown Jr. is not playing; Michael Saffell started at center).
10:32 1st Q: Cal completed 75-yard, eight-play drive with a 7-yard TD pass from Chase Garbers to Kekoa Crawford. Garbers rolled right and found Crawford, who made a sliding catch in the end zone. Big contributions from Dancy and Damien Moore on the drive. Moore had a 10-yard reception and a 16-yard run. Dancy had runs of 23 and 6 yards. Garbers converted a third-and-3 play with a 6-yard completion to TE Gavin Reinwald. Possibly Cal's most impressive drive of the season. Cal 7, Stanford 0.
6:19 1st Q: Stanford manages a pair of first downs before Cal forces a punt from the Bears' 39, Cal takes over at its own 7-yard line. Cal 7, Stanford 0
END OF 1st QTR: Stanford is about to attempt a 27-yard field goal after the Cal defense held in the red zone. Jet Toner is quite dependable from this distance. Total yards in the quarter: Stanford 89, Cal 81. Cal 7, Stanford 0.
14:55 2nd Q: Jet Toner converts 27-yard field goal. Cal 7, Stanford 3.
10:15 2nd Q: Dario Longhetto makes 24-yard field goal after the Bears drove from their own 25 to the Stanford 7. Big plays were scrambles of 22 and 16 yards by Garbers and a 9-yard run by Moore with a 15-yard late-hit penalty tacked on. Cal 10, Stanford 3.
4:06 2nd Q: Remigio fumbles ball on fair catch try of Stanford punt, Thomas Booker recovers for the Cardinal at the Cal 16. Cal 10, Stanford 3.
3:09 2nd Q: Davis Mills passes 12 yards to Michael Wilson for a touchdown on third-and-6. Wilson beats Cam Bynum in the near left corner of the end zone. Cal 10, Stanford 10.
HALFTIME: Cal 10, Stanford 10. Another foulup on special teams as Dario Longhetto's 32-yard FG attempt on the final play of the half is blocked. Halftime stats: Cal 185 yards, Stanford 123. First downs are 12 to 7 for Cal. The Bears are averaging 5.8 yards per rush, Stanford 1.3 yards. Garbers is 12 for 15 for 98 yards and a touchdown. Davis Mills of Stanford is 13 for 17 for 104 yards and a touchdown. No turnovers by either offense, but Cal's special teams again doing harm. A muffed punt return sets up Stanford for its only touchdown on a 16-yard drive. And a blocked field goal costs Cal three points. A 10-point swing.
*** Cal coach Justin Wilcox talks about the Bears' special team breakdowns at Oregon State last week: