Last season in the Big Game, Cal defensive coordinator Bob Gregory unleashed an all-out, pass rush attack that produced nine sacks. I see more of the same this season. Opponents have piled up 46 sacks so the Cardinal would appear to be in trouble.
Stanford has averaged a horrible 65.1 yards rushing per game. It doesn’t take a Stanford grad to figure out that if Cal stuffs the running game early, it can turn loose the dogs. I can’t see the Cardinal gaining any rushing yards against Cal’s defense. It just isn’t going to happen.
So the key for the Bears is taking care of the ball. No turnovers like USC. If the game turns into a field position battle early, Cal is going to win that game. Even though the STanford defense has played better, Cal should be able to move the ball against it somewhat. If Cal stuffs Stanford early and gets a few first downs, the game is going to be played on Stanford’s side of the field.
Then, as the game wears on, Stanford’s defense is going to wear out. Cal should dominate the fourth quarter.
In talking with the Bears, they seem legitimately excited about the Big Game and the Holiday Bowl. I think that bye week was a great thing for them. They want to finish big, and in my opinion, I think they will. Stanford’s offense has been terrible and A&M is going to have a hard time moving the ball on the ground against Cal. I think the Bears are getting two very favorable matchups to build momentum for 2007.
Coach Tedford has been extra determined after practice this week, refusing to even discuss A&M. He wants things to go well in this Stanford game. The guy hates to lose, and even more than that, he hates to lose games where his team is a big favorite. After the USC game, a reporter asked Coach Tedford is the loss was the most disappointing of his career. He said no, the Arizona game was.
It will be Marshawn Lynch’s final game at Memorial Stadium in all probability, so look for him to have a big effort. Even though Stanford has a fairly solid defense, I would imagine Lynch will roll up 150 yards rushing and a couple of TDs.
Stanford has played pretty tough against the Bears in the first half of games with Tedford leading the show. I don’t expect that to happen this season. I think Cal will have this game under control by halftime.
It should be great weather and a sell-out crowd. It will be interesting to see what kind of send-off the home fans will give the Bears. Certainly, everyone expects a Cal victory. Will the crowd be able to generate the kind of emotion that a Big Game deserves?