California has returned to relevance and respectability in Sonny Dykes' second season as coach. Stanford has slipped back to mediocrity under David Shaw this year.

The surprising developments on both sides of San Francisco Bay give the 117th Big Game quite the twist.

In a change from recent seasons, Saturday's meeting between Stanford (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12) and Cal (5-5, 3-5) has big implications for both teams. The winner will become bowl-eligible, and the loser will be left scrambling to seal that important postseason distinction in next week's season finale.

Making a bowl game means more than just a chance to play another game. It's an extra two weeks of practices, which is especially important for returning players, and added exposure for the program — which never hurts in recruiting.