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Cal Football Provides Familiar Elation as They Renew Their Lease at Stanford Stadium
The California Golden Bears brought the community together one last time in the Bay Area this season
Welcome to a new era of Big Game memories. Gone are the doldrums and mid 2010’s massacres and in are the dominance of the late 2010’s and 2020’s. It has never has been nor ever will be a regular road game.
For 60 minutes on Saturday, the California Golden Bears were on business. This was a fitting, spiritual, and energy inducing finale to the Pac 12 edition of the Big Game. Cal fans descended like madmen on a business trip, carrying the chip on their shoulder as if it were pregame in 2019 all over again. It’s a community that can’t be ripped apart when this game rolls around. When all else spirals in the college football world for Cal, the Big Game restores order.
This community makes these games recollections last a lifetime, and I’m glad I’m able to play a small role in this historical matchup and experience. From pregame tailgates and drinking songs, to forcing false starts with noise on the road, and making the lineup at the Stanford field gates to rush for the third straight time, these Bears fans simply won’t quit.
Don’t let anyone ever convince you that Cal fans don’t care.
As the infamous Nam Le and I joke about now, Cal is 3-0 in Big Games I attend. Back in 2021, there was a bit of a reflection on just how fortunate we are at this current moment.
“It honestly feels pretty great that the next generation didn't have to suffer nearly as hard as us to get the axe back” - Nam Le
There’s still that feral feeling to keep that Axe right where it belongs. Walking into battle with Avi, Nick, and so many others by my side against Stanford will never be lost on me.
This Big Game was never in doubt. Cal was the better team for all four quarters, even when I was feeling a little uneasy after the Cardinal scored to make 21-15 after Fernando Mendoza had been piledriven by Tristan Sinclair. Nevertheless, the Bear did not quit and it did not die.
Jaydn Ott said of Mendoza in the post game presser, “He’s a [bear]”.
Some quick hits that you’ll have seen probably a few times by now
Trond Grizzell had his first 100 yard receiving game at Cal
7 receptions for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, an all around elite performance
This validates everything I saw all the way from spring ball, Trond is a dude and I would not be shocked if there’s a surprise scholarship announcement in the near future
My propaganda is at an all time high
Fernando Mendoza is the first Cal QB since Aaron Rodgers to throw for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Big Game
Mendoza getting up and getting back in the game after taking that hit from Sinclair is otherworldly stuff
This was also Mendoza’s first game with 3 passing touchdowns
Jaydn Ott with absolute workhorse performances in the last two Big Games
2022: 18 carries, 97 yards and 1 touchdown, 3 receptions for 51 yards
2023: 36 carries, 166 yards and 1 touchdown, 2 receptions for 22 yards
Stanfurd fans (they have multiple?) complaining about the loss of Tristian Sinclair, who is the 6th worst rated linebacker according to PFF this season
This is what they were missing.
Video Credit: Our very own Christopher Helling
Rushing the field at California Memorial Stadium South won’t get old. Talking incessant amounts of smack and desecrating the Palo Alto campus won’t get old. The Golden Bears beating the Cardinal into the turf for 60 minutes won’t get old.
It’s all therapeutic comeuppance. I was fortunate enough to talk to and formally introduce myself to Jake Spavital, Jeremiah Hunter, Fernando Mendoza, and Justin Wilcox on the field after the game.
Mendoza was actually excited to meet me and gave *me* a rouse of compliments (as if he didn’t just keep the Axe where it belongs thanks to his performance). Justin Wilcox told me, “I know who you are”.
I guess these think pieces do a thing or two after all. Cal Football has a mission to get to bowl eligibility next week in Pasadena, and I know a bevy of you all will be there. I’ll be there in spirit, but rest assured I will be extending my lease in the meantime along with Cal Football at Stanford Stadium come 2025.
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