Instant analysis/reaction: Bears bark up the right tree, overcome Stanford 41-11

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Theo Wyss-Flamm/Senior Staff

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Key takeaways

Cal’s offense can be good if it really wants to

While this season has been a trying time for the blue and gold, losses and the COVID-19 outbreak notwithstanding, it seems as though the Bears came to the Farm with something to prove. Whether this was because of their embarrassing loss against Arizona or the tragic loss of the Axe to the Cardinal a year prior, Cal did not come to play — well, it did come to play football but not to play around. The second quarter started with a bang as Chase Garbers passed an 84-yard touchdown. This was the second-longest pass in Cal history, second only to Jared Goff’s 92-yard pass in 2014. Shortly after, Garbers passed another touchdown, putting the Bears up 14-3. Whether this was due to sheer luck or the offense finally getting locked in after an entire season, touchdown passes were ever-present in this faceoff.

Big Game means big plays by big players

Stanford entered the match with a five-game losing streak, while the Bears graced the field with a not-so-stellar record. Both teams had something to prove and were expected to throw just about anything against the wall. If it stuck, good. If not, oh well. However, big-name players such as Garbers seemed to fill in the severely lacking spaces on the field. Touchdown pass after touchdown pass, Garbers proved that a Bill Musgrave offense revolves around a quarterback like him. Not forgetting Trevon Clark’s reception of Garbers’ 84-yarder or Marcel Dancy’s 76-yard rush — big players returned in big fashion for this biggest of big games.

The reality lies in the rush

Even as passing and receiving yards are paid great attention to during many a football game, one cannot gloss over the power that a strong rushing ability holds in getting ahead of the opposition. Stanford recorded a total of 38 yards rushing by the end of the third quarter, while the Bears held an awe-inspiring 279 yards. It can be argued that the game was won on account of the number of yards the blue and gold managed by running with the ball, without passing or receiving. The Cardinal were barely able to advance the ball without being bombarded by a wall of Cal’s defense. Whether it came from Cameron Goode sacking Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee for an incredible loss or Collin Gamble rendering multiple passes incomplete, it is more than obvious that, in this game, the Bears outshined the Cardinal in a more-than-impressive fashion. 

Cal’s game MVP

Garbers was definitely missed during the blowout against Arizona, yet other players managed to outshine him in the Stanford game. Even as he brought together a lackluster offense, it is no question that the most valuable player and play of the game were Clark and his 84-yarder. Not only did that turn the score greatly in Cal’s favor, but it also added a much-needed morale boost, making the game winnable for the Bears.

Eye-opening stats

When it comes to any category, the yard comparison between Cal and Stanford is something to marvel at. In this faceoff, Cal managed to top 300 yards, which has not been done since 2018. Individual players were able to collect almost 100 yards on their own, exemplified by Clark and Dancy. The rushing yards at the conclusion of the game were nothing short of embarrassing for the Cardinal, as the blue and gold recorded a total of 352, compared to Stanford’s 43.

Looking forward

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak that Cal Athletics had to deal with these past few weeks, the USC game has been postponed to Dec. 4, after the UCLA game. 

Cal will face UCLA during Thanksgiving week at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Los Angeles. With a stellar record after beginning their season with a breakout win against LSU, the Bruins look like they’ll be a tough contender. Yet Cal, with all its flaws, has managed wins against teams that were deemed unbeatable. Will the blue and gold continue their winning streak, or will they fold under the pressure? This all remains to be seen as the season begins to come to a close. 

Maria Khan covers football. Contact her at [email protected].