Behind a strong defensive effort and heroics from Daniel Scott, Cal comes back to retain The Axe
This was a game that was best experienced in person. Both offenses were bad and the football was often nearly unwatchable. But the stadium was packed, the energy high throughout, and we witnessed a wild play sure to be discussed in Big Game lore. It's up there with Mikey Mo picking off Luck in the end zone and, of course, the famous event that's now enshrined in statue form.
I was skeptical when they announced the game had sold out but the seats were occupied enough that I was standing on mine throughout. And it wasn't even due to the cool mini axe giveaway that most people didn't seem to know about. It's a reminder that there's interest in Cal Football if only we can cultivate it with better play and fan outreach.
Nick, I agree 100% with these sentiments: "It remains a vital and joyful signpost of community, family, and friendship. For as much as we bemoan a lack of interest in Cal football for the rest of the season, the way the entire Cal community turns out for the Saturday before Thanksgiving warms my bitter heart."
I'm one of those guys that just forgets a rough season as long as Cal beats the furd. So things are OK. Nice article.
*My wife, who dies inside when she sees my reaction to Cal losing the Big Game, insisted that she was 100% sure Cal would win the whole way
I even looked at you when they went up 10-3 and told you that Cal was still going to win.
Good job Nick!
"It remains a vital and joyful signpost of community, family, and friendship."
I don't get to many Cal games, particularly in Berkeley, but came down from Portland for this one. I was so pleased to see the crowd, the size, the makeup, the breadth of ages, and even the enthusiasm from the non-student section. I LOVED it, and "stormed" the field down the staircase with a handrail. Loved being on the field and loved the win. Go Bears! Thanks for the win.
"Still, this shouldn’t overshadow a strong bounce back game from Plummer, who was money when he had a clean pocket and gave his WRs chances to make plays all game long."
But he too many times tries to overreach his skills and this is from where problems come. He is trying to sling some bombs like Caleb WIlliams, who could hit a dime at 60 yards, while such accuracy is not, yet, in Plummer's skill set. I say we need to give Milner some non-garbage time play, coach up up Plummer, and re-evaluate who should be QB.
The Play 2.0. Just a shorter version of and equally unlikely of a chain of events as The Play, itself.
And, apart from the 4th quarter rally, our offense was especially unspectacular and business-as-usual. In fact, Sirmon's TD was a Hail Mary answered, since, at that point, it was clear our offense was not going to score.
Another fun moment: Loved the image of Ott being forced to serpentine his way out of the loving exuberance of his teammates after his TD.
After 3 quarters of Because Cal, something magical happened.
Agree with all, and especially the last paragraph. We're going to need an OC who can convince the skill position players that they can have fun and make plays in the new system.
"Think about how many different ways this play could have turned out..."
Oh, trust me, Nick, I have.
It's so maddening that Cal games often turn on tiny margins like this, since I'd prefer the team simply play better so that the team wouldn't need a lucky bounce to change momentum. But I suppose it evens out the events of the Notre Dame loss, if we're into that sort of sicko scorekeeping.
That said, it was only fitting that both Earby and Scott engineered the initial sequence of that play, since our defensive backs have been the one positive constant of the Wilcox years. (In fact, Scott's overall hero ball efforts in the final quarter in single-handedly trying to stem the tide, was reminiscent of DB Artis Houston's desperate struggles to try to hold back UW by himself in what ultimately turned out to be a loss in 1993...)
And for Sirmon, he's now etched his name into Cal lore into something far beyond being "the coach's kid".
In some respects the Big Game win redeems the season so it is not a total loss. Maybe there is a little to build on, the players were as happy as the fans. Largely the UCLA game is meaningless because Cal will not be eligible for a bowl, but it could provide some needed momentum for recruiting and confidence heading into next season. I do hope that we try someone else at QB, since Plummer was OK but had those critical picks which put the outcome in jeopardy. Hope the next OC will get things going, starting with the O-line.
Wow. What a negative article.
In spite of a good day passing Plummer's erratic play cost us two tugs because of really stupid interceptions. I have said that the teams with the best QB's always fare the best. PAC 12 standings they are USC, Oregon, UW, Utah, UCLA, OSU, WASU, AZ, CAL, ASU, Stanfurd and CO. I would say that if you ranked the QB's of these teams they probably would fall in the same order with the exception of WASU. It just goes to show; we need a really good QB. Maybe a new OC can coach up Kai.
One thing I did notice was the offensive line was getting blown by much less frequently. Assume that a large part of that was Stanford's anemic defensive line, but I'm also glad that the simple slant play which allows our talented (but oddly drop prone) wide outs to get the ball in space and steadily gaining 4-8 yards a play. Stanford's middle of the field was soft and we kept throwing the ball there, which loosened things for the runs in the second half and deeper balls later in the game
Any idea why one of the Cal coaches (looks like Vic So'oto) was wearing a Nike Virginia Cavaliers hoodie on the Cal sideline?
I have always said that for the boring axe faceoff Cal should get some high level trashtalkers and let them go crazy. Would make it way more interesting