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Cal Ends Drought in the Big Game

Bears have an easy time in 30-7 triumph over Stanford, their first in the series since 1994.

November 24, 2002|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

BERKELEY — While a sellout throng of 71,224 was busy filling Memorial Stadium on Saturday for the 105th game between archrivals California and Stanford, the public address announcer made an announcement: "Enjoy the game in a safe, positive and friendly environment."

Of course, the fans booed loudly.

And who could blame them? After all, who wants any of that feel-good stuff when you can enjoy an old-fashioned case of genuine dislike instead?

The first Cal sellout crowd in eight years saw the Bears grate their chief tormentor, end seven years of frustration and claim the Axe with a 30-7 Big Game blowout of the Stanford Cardinal.

There were some big performances, from Cal tailback Joe Igber, who ran for a Big Game-record 226 yards, and from quarterback Kyle Boller, who passed for 188 yards and two touchdowns to LaShaun Ward.

But as far as Big Game standards go, this one took on the appearances of a more modest production, which is what happens when Stanford stares at a 2-9 record and California is posting its first winning season in nine years.

"It's great to knock down some of the barriers in front of us," said Cal Coach Jeff Tedford. "Now, we get to sit back and reflect."

The Big Game has not been Cal's to call its own since 1994, the last time the Bears won. The Bears were 7-5 under first-year coach Tedford and there were reports last week that boosters were concerned he might bolt for a better job, even though Tedford is in the first year of a four-year deal and Cal is coming off a 1-10 season.

"This is so big for our seniors, our program, our team, our coach and our school," Boller said. "And, hey, we got the Axe to Berkeley."

This series has come a long way since the first game in 1892, a 14-10 Stanford victory played in a grassy field at the corner of Haight and Stanyon in San Francisco. Herbert Hoover was the Stanford student football manager.

The rivalry is deeply rooted in tradition. Stanford, the private school, versus California, the state school. Red and white versus blue and gold. Two teams separated by a bay, competing in the same conference, recruiting the same players, fans not liking each other all that much.

As the Stanford players stretched before the game, they were taunted by Cal fans.

"Tyrone hates you, Tyrone hates you," they yelled, referring to Tyrone Willingham, the Stanford coach who quit to take over at Notre Dame this season.

When the California band formed the letters "Cal," the fans in the Stanford section chanted "Boring, boring."

The game was more bashing than boring, with Cal holding a 23-7 lead at the half behind Igber, who had a 42-yard touchdown run.

Stanford scored the first time it had the ball, but its last 13 possessions resulted in nine punts, two intercepted passes, a lost fumble and the ball going over on downs.

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