The focus of the Bay Area will be in Palo Alto on Saturday, with Cal and Stanford set to face off in the 114th staging of the Big Game, the annual college football contest that is the region’s most storied sporting tradition.
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Led by quarterback Andrew Luck, the Heisman Trophy candidate and presumable top pick in next year’s NFL draft, the host Cardinal will enter the game as a prohibitive favorite. But as the unpredictable history of this rivalry has shown, anything can happen, and the visiting Bears will be looking to build on their late-season momentum as they head toward another bowl contest under coach Jeff Tedford.
For those fans who weren’t lucky enough to grab a ticket for Saturday’s game in Palo Alto, there will be plenty of places to watch the contest in The City. And the game will only be half the fun anyway, as fans will be able to take part in the usual array of events that accompany the historic contest.
It might just be another old hatchet to many, but for Cardinal and Bears faithful, the Stanford Axe represents school pride to the nth degree.
As far as talismans go in the history of collegiate sports rivalries, few have as colorful a history as the Axe.
The story starts in 1899, when the first theft of the prized tool occurred in San Francisco following the annual baseball game between the two schools. It eventually became the prize for winning the Big Game, and its possession was heavily disputed in 1982, the year of “The Play” and Cal’s infamous lateral gone awry.
Stanford is currently guarding the Axe after winning last year, and the team holds a slight edge in Big Game history with a 56-41-11 record.
— Max DeNike
The forecast for Saturday’s game seems befitting for a late November matchup between two hated rivals.
It’s going to be cold and wet, with temperatures spiking at the mid-50s and light rains expected, according to the National Weather Service. With the conditions making for a slippery pigskin, whichever team finds the most success running the ball will likely win. Fans should bring umbrellas — and extra layers of clothes.
Big Game gaieties
Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University, 8 p.m.
Big Game bonfire rally
Hearst Greek Theater, Berkeley, 6 p.m.
Official pregame tailgate ceremony
Burnham Pavilion, 615 Serra Street, Stanford, 4:45 p.m.
Big Game viewing party
The Republic, 3213 Scott St., S.F., 7:15 p.m.