The dynamic of this year’s The Big Game between the Stanford Cardinal and Cal Bears is a lot different than what it looked like in Week 1. Back then, Stanford was a nationally-ranked threat to run away with the Pac-12 North, then experienced a Cal Bears-like landslide.
Unlike Stanford, who’s seen consistency from K.J. Costello and Bobby Okereke, Cal had a very good chance of handing the Cardinal their fifth loss. For example, a handful of players have two or more interceptions, in addition to other defensive standouts with 100-plus tackles. Those that lead Stanford in those categories is a slim pickin’, despite Paulson Adebo and Okereke carrying the weight of the defense.
Entering the game, Stanford had a slight advantage because of Costello, who’s had a terrific past couple games. And with Arcega-Whiteside back in action, Costello needed to keep his wits about him, as Cal’s strong secondary with Traveon Buck and Jaylinn Hawkins, have been having their own idea of a productive home stretch finish.
RB Bryce Love
Stats vs. Cal: 22 carries, 74 yards; 2 receptions, 19 yards
Player notes: Cameron Scarlett proved to be the end zone back for Stanford against Cal, as Love finished his collegiate career. Love did cough up the ball in the second half, but Cal didn’t capitalize.
Plagued by injury and an ill-disciplined offensive line, Love finished a season that should have been capped by a Heisman Trophy with 745 yards and six touchdowns.
Game Day grade: B-
Draft stock: Mid-second
TE Kaden Smith
Stats vs. Cal: N/A
Player notes: DNP due to a foot injury
Game Day grade: N/A
Draft stock: Mid-to-late fifth
OG Nate Herbig
Player notes: This was Herbig’s first game back since suffering an ankle injury in mid-October. His performance against Cal was a bit shaky, as Costello was sacked twice for over five yards. Herbig also got picked on by the refs, who committed him of a false start – Herbig’s first penalty of the entire season.
Game Day grade: C
Draft stock: Early seventh
MLB Bobby Okereke
Stats vs. Cal: 13 tackles, forced fumble, 0.5 sack
Player notes: While Cal out-gained Stanford, 352-329, Paulson Adebo (two interceptions) and Okereke headlined the Cardinal defense. Okereke’s best play of the day came up when he forced a fumble that was recovered by Sean Barton, which then led to a Stanford field goal nearing halftime.
Game Day grade: A
Draft stock: Mid-to-late fourth
Stats vs. Cal: 3 tackles
Player notes: Holder wasn’t eligible to play in the first half because of a targeting call in Week 13 against UCLA, but he eventually entered the game in the second half to cover Moe Ways, who finished with five receptions and 39 yards.
For Holder, his senior year was his statistical best since enrolling in 2015, ending with a career-best 49 tackles and eight passes defended.
Game Day grade: C
Draft stock: Early sixth
Preview, introductory stats provided by College Football Reference
Game Day stats provided by NCAA.com