Football: Big Game preview

The big day is at hand, albeit a month on the calendar.

Here’s our preview package for the 115th Big Game, starting with my profile of wide receiver Keenan Allen, who needs just seven receptions to break Geoff McArthur’s Cal career record of 202.

Read more on what Allen’s coaches and teammates have to say about him.

Here is a top-10 list of most receptions made by a Pac-12 player in three seasons or fewer:

1. Reggie Williams, Washington (2001-03) 243
2. Dwayne Jarrett, USC (2004-06) 216
3. Robert Woods, USC (2010-cur) 211
4. Keenan Allen, Cal (2010-cur) 196
5t. Mike Williams, USC (2002-03) 176
5t. Hugh Campbell, Washington St. (1960-62) 176
7. Marquess Wilson, Washington St. (2010-cur) 175
8. Keyshawn Johnson, USC (1994-95) 168
9. DeSean Jackson, Cal (2005-07) 162
10t. Shaun McDonald, Arizona St. (2000-02) 156
10t. Justin Armour, Stanford (1992-94) 156
Note: The Pac-12 record for most receptions in a career is 259 by Mike Thomas, Arizona (2005-08).


Here are 10 things you (probably) don’t know about the Big Game (although this crowd may be ahead of the curve).

Here’s Jon Wilner’s look at what Stanford hopes to do to end a drought of eight quarters (plus) overtime without scoring an offensive touchdown on the road.


RECORDS: Stanford 4-2, 2-1 in Pac-12; Cal 3-4, 2-2

KICKOFF: Noon, Memorial Stadium, Berkeley

TV: Fox

RADIO: 1050-AM & 810-AM

SERIES HISTORY: Stanford leads 57-46-11. The Cardinal has won the past two games. Cal has won seven of the past 10.

STANFORD STORYLINES: Stanford, which is fresh off a bitter overtime defeat at Notre Dame, hasn’t lost back-to-back games since the middle of the 2009 season. . . . The Cardinal must win to maintain control of its own destiny. Despite the loss to Washington, Stanford would win the Pac-12 North if it runs the table. . . . Stanford’s streak of 39 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press top-25 poll — the fifth-longest streak in the country — is on the line. A loss would surely drop the No. 22 Cardinal from the rankings. . . . Tailback Stepfan Taylor needs 95 yards to tie Toby Gerhart (3,522) for second on Stanford’s career rushing list. . . . The Cardinal will be without its leading receiver, Ty Montgomery (knee), for the second consecutive game.

CAL STORYLINES: The Bears have won two in a row since starting 1-4 and need this game to nurture any realistic shot at becoming bowl eligible. Without a win here, Cal would have to win three of its final four games, which would include getting past either Oregon or Oregon State, both top-10 teams. . . . After allowing an average of 30.2 points through its first five games, the Cal defense has surrendered just 17 apiece in wins over UCLA and Washington State. The Bears believe they can tilt the game in their direction by rattling Stanford QB Josh Nunes. . . . Cal has forced eight turnovers, including six interceptions, the past two games.

INJURY UPDATE: Stanford — WR Ty Montgomery (knee) is out. Cal — OG Dominic Galas (pectoral muscle) is probable.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Cal’s offensive line vs. Stanford’s defensive front. The Bears have allowed an NCAA-worst 29 sacks, but none last week. If the Bears can protect quarterback Zach Maynard and create holes for their running game, they have a chance to beat Stanford and pull even at 4-4 for the season. It won’t be easy. Stanford’s defense has 19 sacks and ranks seventh nationally defending the run. In four victories, the Cardinal is allowing opponents to average just 2.3 yards per carry.

STANFORD STATS THAT MATTER: Stanford is second in the Pac-12 in run defense, allowing just 89.5 yards per game. . . . The Cardinal has allowed the fewest number of sacks in the conference (six). . . . Stanford is 99th in the nation in third-down conversions (34.5 percent). . . . Tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo have accounted for 38 percent of Stanford’s receptions.

CAL STATS THAT MATTER: The Bears have averaged 251.5 rushing yards in their two Pac-12 wins, but just 118 yards in two conference losses. . . . Cal’s run defense has surrendered just 93.3 rushing yards the past three games. In their first three FBS games, the Bears allowed 226.3 rushing yards. . . . Junior Keenan Allen is second in the Pac-12 with 52 receptions — 13 more than all of Stanford’s wide receivers combined.

                                                     — JEFF FARAUDO & JON WILNER


Jeff Faraudo