Stanford routs rival Cal 38-17 in 117th Big Game
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Stanford players paraded around the field with the Axe, sprinted into the tunnel and shouted so loud outside the visiting locker room at Memorial Stadium that they drowned out coach David Shaw's news conference in the next room.
Despite a disappointing season, celebrating a victory at California never gets old.
Remound Wright ran for four touchdowns, and Stanford used a smothering defensive effort to rout rival Cal 38-17 on Saturday and clinch bowl eligibility.
''Our seniors did not want to be the group that lost the Axe,'' Shaw said. ''They never had an experience at Stanford where they didn't have the Axe.''
And now they never will.
Blake Martinez intercepted two passes and forced a fumble as the Cardinal (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) created five turnovers. Stanford beat the Golden Bears (5-6, 3-6) for the fifth straight year in the Big Game, savoring every second as the announced crowd of 56,483 cleared out.
''It's one of those rivalries you dream of as a kid to play in. Just to finish it off right is huge,'' Martinez said.
Jared Goff tied Cal's record for touchdowns and broke his own school record for yards passing in a season but had little to show for his milestones. He threw for 182 yards, one TD and two interceptions.
Freshman Luke Rubenzer, who has been used primarily as a wildcat quarterback, also threw two interceptions in the second half. Cal can still salvage its season and clinch bowl eligibility at home against BYU next week.
''We certainly don't feel the gap is as big as the score was,'' Goff said. ''We just didn't play up to our potential.''
For a change in recent seasons, the 117th Big Game actually had big implications for both teams.
A series of setbacks put the two-time defending Pac-12 champion Cardinal on the brink of missing the postseason, especially with a visit at No. 11 UCLA looming in the finale. The Bears went 1-11 last year - with the lone win against lower-tier Portland State - but had shown signs of progress in coach Sonny Dykes' second season.
Instead, Stanford turned it into another Big Game blowout.
The Cardinal crushed Cal 63-13 last year - the largest margin of victory in the rivalry - and tied the second-biggest road victory in Big Game history this time.
Wright ran for 92 yards on 23 attempts, becoming the first Stanford player to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Stepfan Taylor in November 2010. Stanford also sustained the momentum even after losing top playmaker Ty Montgomery with a sprained right shoulder in the first quarter.
Shaw said X-rays were negative and Montgomery is questionable to play against the Bruins.
Cal's conference-worst defense couldn't overcome its own loss when safety Michael Lowe was ejected for targeting the head Austin Hooper on the first play from scrimmage. That was just the first in a series of mistakes for Dykes' team.
The Bears finished with 12 penalties for 113 yards, while Stanford had just four penalties for 21 yards. Cal also had a TD overturned on three consecutive plays in the third quarter.
''It was a bit of a strange football game,'' Dykes said. ''It certainly didn't start the way we wanted it to start. I don't even know what to say about some of the stuff that happened out there.''
Kevin Hogan threw for 214 yards and one interception, and he also ran for a short touchdown as the Cardinal overpowered the Bears on both sides.
Martinez jarred the ball loose from Daniel Lasco on third-and-goal, and he intercepted consecutive tipped passes from Goff in the second quarter to sway the momentum Stanford's way. Goff had not thrown an interception in his previous 159 attempts.
Goff entered the game one TD pass behind Pat Barnes' record of 31 in 1996. He also was 110 yards shy of his own record of 3,508 yards passing he set as a freshman.
Goff tied the first mark and broke the other but couldn't bring the Bears back from a big hole - and sometimes didn't even get the chance with Rubenzer at quarterback - that Stanford buried them in.