Syd'Quan Thompson might be the most subdued player on the Cal football team. His words usually come with very little intonation; his emotions are often self-contained. Yet there he was at the center of it all, taking in a 34-28 triumph on the field at Stanford Stadium after the 112th Big Game. It didn't matter that he had suffered a high ankle sprain late in the fourth quarter. It didn't matter that his right foot was trapped in a large black boot. This was the cornerback's final rivalry game with the Bears, and he knew the Axe would last in Berkeley much longer than his injury. Victory, he said, made it all worthwhile. "A random fan asked me if I wanted to be lifted on their shoulders," Thompson said. "I said, 'Sure!'"
Then Thompson shook his long dreadlocks from a perch above and amid the post-game celebration, a moment that embodied what the win meant to Cal. It felt so good because it was so hard-earned. The wear and tear on the players' bodies became unimportant after a match of such historical significance.