Cal has won the Big Game in six of the past seven years. The one time the Bears lost during that stretch, 20-13 at Stanford Stadium in 2007, the empty feeling left a lasting impression on offensive tackle Mike Tepper and running back Shane Vereen. "That was probably the worst feeling I've ever had at Cal," said Tepper, who has been in the program six years. "Going 0-6 against USC is pretty bad, but losing the Axe in '07 was the worst feeling. It tears you apart. It means a lot to us."
Vereen, who will start Saturday in place of the injured Jahvid Best, was a true freshman in 2007. He redshirted that season, so Vereen didn't even suit up for the Big Game. Still, he quickly learned all about the rivalry. "I just remember being on the field and all their fans storming the field and yelling and going crazy," he said. "That's the worst feeling you can have - people beating you and then throwing it in your face."
Research project: Tepper wants to make sure Cal's young players understand the history and tradition of the Big Game. So he "assigned" freshman center Mark Brazinski to write a six- to eight-page paper on the history of the Stanford Axe, due Tuesday.