(Saturday, November 21st)
Final Score: California 34, (14) Stanford 28
Palo Alto, CA (Sports Network) - Shane Vereen, playing in place of the injured Jahvid Best, ran 42 times for a career-high 193 yards with three touchdowns, leading the California Golden Bears to a crucial 34-28 win over 14th-ranked Stanford in the annual "Big Game" to shake up the Pac-10 standings.
Kevin Riley completed 17-of-31 passes for 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Oregon (8-3, 5-3 Pac-10), which trailed, 14-0, early in the game but still won for the fifth time in six games. Riley added 27 yards rushing, and Marvin Jones had four catches for 45 yards and a score in the win.
"That's a big win right there," said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "Stanford's got a great football team. Like I said early in the week, we're the hottest team in the country right now. I'm really proud of our kids, our coaching staff -- the preparation that we put in to come here and the belief and confidence we had in each other -- I couldn't be prouder of a group of kids.
California dominated the time of possession in the game, holding the ball for 39:06.
Toby Gerhart ran for 136 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries for Stanford (7-4, 6-3), which was coming off a dominant 55-21 win at USC last weekend. Andrew Luck was not very efficient behind center, throwing for only 157 yards on 10-of-30 passing while throwing a game-ending interception inside the red zone with under two minutes to play.
The loss eliminated the Cardinal from Rose Bowl contention, as it is a certainty that the conference winner -- either Oregon, Arizona or Oregon State -- will have two or fewer losses in the Pac-10.
Trailing by 10 with 13:14 to play after a Cal touchdown, Stanford made it a three-point game with seven minutes to play on Gerhart's fourth score of the game -- from five yards away -- to cap a six-play, 87-yard drive.
The Bears increased their lead to six with 2:42 to play on D'Amato's 28-yard field goal, but Stanford seemed primed to move in front late in the game.
Starting from the Cardinal 42, Luck ran for 12 yards on the first play of the drive and hit Gerhart on a screen two plays later, as the running back ran for a tough 29 yards down to the 13. After an incompletion, Luck threw a poor pass over the middle that was intercepted by Cal's Michael Mohamed, sealing the outcome.
"It's not all on that one play," said Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. "If you got to win a game, you have to win at least one of the phases. I thought we did on special teams, but that's two of the three that we didn't."
Stanford didn't take long to go in front, as Gerhart found the end zone from 61 yards away on the third offensive play of the game.
The Cardinal took over at Cal's 19 with seven minutes left in the first after a botched punt play, and Gerhart finished the brief series with a two-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead 10 minutes into the contest.
The Bears got on the board just before the end of the quarter with D'Amato's 21-yard field goal, and Cal cut its lead further in the second quarter.
Starting from their own 15, the Bears marched the length of the field in 14 plays, converting all three third downs they faced. Vereen capped the set with a one-yard rush into the end zone to account for the 14-10 halftime score.
California picked up right where it left off in the second half, taking the kickoff and marching 92 yards in 11 plays. Consecutive 12-yard completions to Anthony Miller and Verran Tucker put the ball at the eight-yard line, and, after a defensive penalty, Vereen ran in from four yards out for a 17-14 Bears lead.
A solid kickoff return by Stanford put it in field goal range, but Nate Whitaker missed a 45-yard attempt to give it back to Cal, who padded its lead with a three-yard touchdown run from Vereen with four minutes left in the third.
Stanford made it a three-point game heading to the fourth, as a 31-yard pass from Luck to Konrad Reuland helped set up Gerhart's one-yard score for a 24-21 contest.
Cal, though, responded by scoring a touchdown on its fourth consecutive drive, restoring its 10-point lead on a 12-yard pass from Riley to Jones with 13:14 remaining.
Gerhart now has 23 rushing touchdowns this season...Cal outgained Stanford, 477-345...Each team had only one turnover...The Bears have won seven out of the last eight in the series but still trail all-time, 55-46-11...The Cardinal play at home against Notre Dame next week, while Cal will play Washington on December 5.
11/22 02:31:54 ET