Finally, a Big Game that lives up to its name. This, folks, is what rivalry week feels like in Eugene and Los Angeles and Columbus but something Bay Area fans haven't experienced in nearly 20 years. Cal and Stanford are both 7-3. Both are ranked in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings. Both are bowl eligible. One team has the Rose Bowl in its sights and a Heisman Trophy candidate — it's just not the team we expected when the season began. Fresh off its beatdown of USC, Stanford is four reasonable steps from the Pac-10 title, and tailback Toby Gerhart is making a late-season charge for the Heisman.
Following its best defensive performance of the season, Cal is hunting for a top-tier bowl bid and yet another eight-win season. The way the Bears rallied to defeat then-No. 18 Arizona was enough to make you think they have a chance to beat Stanford. Well, almost enough. In reality, the Bears have very little chance. If we've learned anything over the years, it's that the better team wins the Big Game and "anything" hardly ever happens. Only once in the past decade has the favorite lost — and that favorite, Cal in '07, entered the Big Game with a hobbled quarterback (Nate Longshore) and five losses in its previous six games.