Saturday, November 23, 2013
Five things: California-Stanford
By Kyle Bonagura
Here are five things to watch in today's 116th edition of the Big Game.
Gaffney and who?: Internally, Stanford must be licking its chops looking at the porous run defense California has shown on film. Running back Tyler Gaffney figures to be headed toward sixth straight game with over 100 yards, but the potential is there for another Cardinal running back to shoot for that number too. The odds-on favorite is Anthony Wilkerson, who came into the season expecting to split carries with Gaffney. It didn't materialize, so the game could be an opportunity for the Stanford coaching staff to reward Wilkerson, a senior, with a memorable game on his way out the door.
Streaking ... in opposite directions: Stanford's 14-game home winning streak is the second longest in the nation trailing just South Carolina (15). If that were to end, Cal would need to snap a 13-game Pac-12 losing streak, which started with a loss to Stanford in last year's Big Game.
The Buh Connection: Cal defensive coordinator Andy Buh was a part of Jim Harbaugh's initial staff at Stanford in 2007 as the linebackers coach and spent the next two years as the co-defensive coordinator before leaving for Nevada. Stanford's offense has changed significantly since then -- as has Buh's defense -- but Shaw admitted this week he and Buh have spoken at length about football over the years. Will that familiarity with each other's philosophy play a role? Maybe, maybe not, but it's unlikely either will be caught off guard. Whether that translates to execution -- more so from Cal's defense -- is another question.
31.5: Stanford hasn't scored more than 31 points in its last six games, but that didn't stop the Vegas powers that be from installing the Cardinal as a 31.5-point favorite -- depending on which odds you look at. There are several ways to quantify just how bad Cal has been defensively, but that little nugget illustrates it in simple terms. Just twice in the last 38 years has the margin in the Big Game been more than 30 points -- a 48-14 Stanford win in 2010 and a 41-6 Cal win in 2004.
Kline watch: Cal backup quarterback Zach Kline was ESPN.com’s No. 2-ranked high school quarterback in the Class of 2012 behind only Florida State's Jameis Winston. Expectations were that he could become the school's best quarterback since Aaron Rodgers. It’s tough to do from the bench, even tougher when the guy he's behind -- Jared Goff -- is a year younger. It wouldn't come as a surprise if Kline makes the same decision former Stanford quarterback Brett Nottingham did a year ago and decides to transfer. Coincidently, both Kline and Nottingham, who landed at Columbia, are both from Danville, Calif.