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Cal Football: Chase Garbers on Short List of Two-Time Big Game-Winning Quarterbacks

Over the past 50 years, only four Cal QBs have steered the Bears to 2 Big Game wins.

Chase Garbers joined some exclusive company on Saturday when he quarterbacked Cal to its 41-11 win over Stanford in the 124th Big Game.

Coupled with the Bears’ victory two years ago, Garbers became just the fourth Cal quarterback in the past 50 years to emerge a winner twice in the Big Game.

Garbers -- who talks in the video at the top of this story about Cal's game Saturday at UCLA -- follows in the footsteps of Kevin Riley (2008-09), Aaron Rodgers (2003-04) and Gale Gilbert (1982-83).

It has not been an easy half-century for the Bears in the Big Game.

Since 1972, when freshman Vince Ferragamo overcame four interceptions to deliver an 8-yard touchdown pass to Steve Sweeney on the final play to beat Stanford 24-22, Cal has won just 18 times with one tie in 50 years.

Garbers and his teammates now own two of those victories.

And he is the only Cal quarterback to beat Stanford twice on its own field over that long span of time.

Here’s a summary of how the four two-time winners performed in the Big Game:

Chase Garbers

2021: Cal 41, Stanford 11 — Garbers completed 17 of 26 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 59 yards as the Bears rolled up a Big Game record 636 yards and sent Stanford to its sixth straight loss.

2019: Cal 24, Stanford 20 — Garbers won it with a 16-yard scramble for a touchdown with 1:19 left, capping a six-play, 75-yard drive that took just 64 seconds. Garbers was 20 for 30 for 285 yards with one touchdown pass and rushed for 72 yards.

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Kevin Riley

2009: Cal 34, Stanford 28 — Riley completed 17 of 31 passes for 235 yards with one touchdown but the game’s headliner was Shane Vereen, who rushed for 193 yards and three TDs.

2008: Cal 37, Stanford 16 — Riley didn’t have to do much of the heavy lifting as the Bears rose Jahvid Best’s 201 rushing yards and two touchdowns to a 37-3 lead on the way to an easy victory. Riley was 7 for 11 for 101 yards with three TDs, including one to Best.

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

2004: Cal 41, Stanford 6 — This was the biggest point total the Bears put on Stanford i recent times until they matched it on Saturday. Rodgers was 11 for 14 for 120 yards with a touchdown while J.J. Arrington (169 yds) and Marshawn Lynch (122 yards) powered the running game.

2003: Cal 28, Stanford 16 — In his Big Game debut, Rodgers was 26 for 37 for 359 yards with three touchdowns, two of them to Geoff McArthur. He also ran for 55 yards.

Gale Gilbert

1983: Cal 27, Stanford 18 — Gilbert passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns to lead Joe Kapp’s team to its second straight victory in the Big Game.

1982: Cal 25, Stanford 20 — Gilbert was 17 for 31 for 289 yards with two touchdowns, more than holding his own against Stanford star John Elway. The game, of course, will be remembered always for Cal pulling off The Play, the five-lateral, 57-yard kickoff return on the final play of the afternoon.

Other winning Cal quarterbacks in the Big Game over the past 50 years: Nate Longshore (2006), Steve Levy (2005), Kyle Boller (2002), Pat Barnes (1994), Dave Barr (1993), Kevin Brown (1986), J Torchio (1980), Rich Campbell (1979), Joe Roth (1975) and Vince Ferragamo (1972).

Cover photo of Chase Garbers by Stan Szeto, USA Today

Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo