With both Cal and Stanford football having all but clinched losing records in the Pac-12 this season, the hearts and eyes of the collective fan base turn from the Big Game to the matchup that truly matters between these storied collegiate rivals: the Ink Bowl.
A tradition that dates back to the 1960s, the Ink Bowl features a flag football game between the two school’s respective independent newspapers: The Daily Californian and The Stanford Daily. Following a bitter 58-56 quadruple overtime defeat in last year’s Ink Bowl, the Daily Cal is extra motivated to reclaim the infamous X-Acto knife from the clutches of The Stanford Daily.
“I would equate our preparation to taking a one unit class,” said sports writer, quarterback and spiritual leader of The Daily Californian Ryan Sheehan. “We’ve shown up. We want to pass the class and we’re going to pass the class because we’re playing Stanford.”
Sheehan speaks to the sheer amount of dedication the Daily Cal sports section has put into preparing for the 2022 Ink Bowl. Head sports editor and head coach Maria Khan has held an hourlong practice nearly every Friday at 4 p.m. for the last two months in order to get the team into tip-top shape.
The Daily Californian is bent on avenging last year’s loss.
“We’ve channeled that energy in the right way,” said Daily Cal veteran Will Cooke. “We’ve got great coaches in Emmanuel Macedo and Ryan Sheehan. Both of them are excellent coaches, maybe the best in the country. I feel blessed to be here and I’m looking forward to winning on Saturday.”
The Daily Cal boasts a strong receiving core and an even stronger offensive coordinator in Emmanuel Macedo. Sheehan and Macedo have worked hard this season to build a playbook from scratch.
The playbook features many prominent Daily Cal plays, including “Libel” and “The Oski Special.” The Sheehan-Macedo duo have created an offense that potentially rivals even the likes of Cal football.
“I would say that we are … comparable,” Cooke said. “Comparable in terms of pass protection. Our offensive line, composed of Jem Ruf and Leila Rosenberg, has very similar skill traits to someone like Sioape Vatikani.”
On the defensive side, the Daily Cal understands its potential deficiencies. With last year’s Ink Bowl reaching a miraculous four overtimes, the overarching message for the defense has been: “get one stop.”
The Ink Bowl is bound to be a shootout, and the victory may be decided by the first team to get a stop.
Emotional leader, residential hype man and Stephen Curry enthusiast Justin Kim stressed the sheer amount of effort and dedication it will take to bring the X-Acto knife back to the Daily Californian office.
“What will it take to beat The Stanford Daily?” Kim asked. “Not much, shouldn’t take all that much. Maybe not an awful day but maybe just an off-day kind of effort. A few celebrations might demoralize them and that’s all it takes to beat The Standard Daily. Standard, right? Like Standard University?”
The Ink Bowl will be officiated by four referees: two people from each newspaper who will not be eligible to play for either team. The most-anticipated athletic event of the season will be taking place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ohlone Park.
Cooke had one final message for the Stanford Daily.
“I know this is a big day for you guys, this would be two (Ink Bowl) wins in a row and I can’t remember the last time you did that. Looking forward to beating up on a junior university Saturday!”