Congratulations to Joel Hagler, from Chelsea, Alabama, the winner of last week’s Stanford Daily Football Predictions Challenge, presented by Chef Chu’s.
No. 24 Stanford (7-3, 5-3 Pac-12) at Cal (4-6, 2-5)
Vihan Lakshman: Stanford 34, Cal 26
After decimating Oregon behind a running game that has really hit its groove in the last three weeks, look for Stanford to run, run and then, for good measure, run some more against a Bears rush defense that ranks second-to-last in the FBS. The Cal offense, though, will be more than up to the task of putting up points, as Sonny Dykes’ team looks to snap both a current three-game skid and a six-year Big Game drought. Davis Webb fires up the Bear Raid right away, connecting with his arsenal of weapons early and lifting Cal to an early lead. However, Lance Anderson’s defense tightens the clamps in the second half while Christian McCaffrey slithers through the teeth of the Bears defense for a couple long runs to lift the Cardinal to a comeback victory and keep the Axe on the Farm.
Andrew Mather: Stanford 45, Cal 17
If one thing has become clear in this up-and-down Stanford season, it’s that the Cardinal know how to put up points on mediocre defenses. Considering Cal ranks dead last in the FBS in points conceded, I have little doubt that Stanford will have trouble running up the scoreboard when it heads across the Bay Bridge this weekend. The interesting question, then, is whether the Golden Bears’ own talented offense will be able to keep pace with Chryst, McCaffrey and company. While I might have been tempted to say yes earlier in the season, I just don’t think that Cal has the fight in it anymore to put up another 40- or even 30-point showing.
The Bears’ difficult schedule seems to be catching up to them, and quite honestly, they’ve looked a bit broken in their recent performances against Washington and Wazzu. While they certainly have the talent to make things interesting this weekend, I’d be pretty surprised if they’re able to put together enough pieces to threaten the Cardinal. Stanford has looked really good in its last few games, and, while quality of competition might account for some of that, it’s hard to figure what Cal could bring to the table that Stanford hasn’t already faced and mastered. The Cardinal roll in Berkeley and retain the Axe for a series record-tying seventh straight season.
Tristan Vanech: Stanford 37, Cal 34
Though Cal gives up 45.6 points per game and Stanford has held opponents to under 20 this season, I expect this Big Game to be much closer than the gents above me predict. The Golden Bears need to win out to make a bowl, and their tenacity at home will match that hope. Sure, Lance Anderson’s defense executed its trademark “bend but don’t break” strategy against Oregon last week. But two of the Cardinal’s stops bent all the way into the end zone. The pass-heavy Cal attack consistently finds its way through Stanford’s secondary, leaving it up to a Solomon Thomas-forced fumble to save the day late for Stanford on a rainy Saturday afternoon across the Bay.
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