Stan­ford: Car­di­nal will try to ex­tend dom­i­nance

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTING GREEN - By Tom FitzGer­ald

The last time Cal beat Stan­ford in the Big Game, the Yan­kees were World Series cham­pi­ons, Tiger Woods was still mar­ried, and the U.S. was still in the sub­prime mort­gage cri­sis.

It was Nov. 21, 2009, and the Car­di­nal had a first down at the Cal 13, trail­ing 34-28. Toby Ger­hart, col­lege foot­ball’s an­swer to the rhino, had rushed for 139 yards on 20 car­ries and scored four touch­downs.

In­stead of giv­ing Ger­hart an­other crack, how­ever, head coach Jim Har­baugh had An­drew Luck throw two passes. The first was in­com­plete, the sec­ond in­ter­cepted by line­backer Mike Mo­hamed with 1:36 left to clinch the out­come.

Since then, Stan­ford has beaten Cal seven straight times, the last six with David Shaw as head coach. At 5 p.m. Satur­day, the teams meet again in the 120th Big Game at Stan­ford.

Three times dur­ing the streak, a loss to Stan­ford cost Cal a bowl op­por­tu­nity (the Bears fin­ished 5-7 in 2010, 2014 and last year). This year, No. 20 Stan­ford (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12) needs to win and hope Wash­ing­ton beats Wash­ing­ton State the fol­low­ing Satur­day; that would put the Car­di­nal in the con­fer­ence ti­tle game against USC. Cal (5-5, 2-5) again needs a win to be­come bowl el­i­gi­ble.

Shaw is among the many im­pressed with how Justin Wil­cox has re­versed the Bears’ for­tunes in his first year as head coach, es­pe­cially trans­form­ing the de­fense.

“They’re very sound, they’re very phys­i­cal, they’re very var­ied,” Shaw said of the Cal de­fense. “You’ll see even fronts, odd fronts, a va­ri­ety of blitzes, in­ter­nal blitzes, ex­ter­nal blitzes, safety blitzes, cor­ner blitzes — a va­ri­ety of way of at­tack­ing you.”

Asked what he has re­mem­bered most from the win streak in the ri­valry, Shaw pointed to Ty Mont­gomery’s five touch­downs on as many touches in 2013. “I hadn’t re­ally seen any­thing like that in my time here,” he said. “… That was amaz­ing.”

When com­pletely healthy, Stan­ford tail­back Bryce Love is ca­pa­ble of as­ton­ish­ing feats, too. He’s still not 100 per­cent be­cause of an an­kle in­jury he sus­tained more than a month ago. Nev­er­the­less, Love logged 30 car­ries for 166 yards and three touch­downs Fri­day night in the up­set of Wash­ing­ton.

“His 80 to 90 per­cent speed is still faster than any­body else out there,” Shaw said.

An ex­am­ple, Shaw said, was Love’s 35-yard run with less than five min­utes left that “sealed the game for us. If he’s 100 per­cent, he would have scored.

“We’ve learned not to ask him how he feels be­cause he’s al­ways ‘OK.’ We have to see func­tion­ally what he can and can’t do. He can play through ridicu­lous pain.”

Briefly: Love re­gained the FBS rush­ing lead with 1,622 yards and ranks first in yards per game at 180.2. With 8.96 yards per carry, he is sec­ond to Ari­zona quar­ter­back Kahlil Tate (11.45) . ... A tar­get­ing penalty against the Huskies that was re­versed by re­play re­view was not tar­get­ing, Shaw con­ceded af­ter an­grily protest­ing the hit on wide re­ceiver Con­nor Wed­ing­ton dur­ing the game. Shaw is still wait­ing for word on an­other re­versed tar­get­ing call in­volv­ing a hit on full­back Daniel Marx. … Wed­ing­ton and tight end Dal­ton Schultz are ques­tion­able for Satur­day, and tackle Walker Lit­tle re­mains out, Shaw said.

David Madison / Getty Im­ages 2016

David Shaw and Stan­ford knocked off Cal 45-31 at Me­mo­rial Sta­dium last year, Shaw has been the head coach for six of the Car­di­nal’s past seven Big Game wins.

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